If you’re like me, it’s an exciting time when fall hits home in Michigan. The cooler weather brings out comfortable layers and more of my time is just naturally spent in the kitchen. But as fall sinks in, I really start to feel the need to store and savor the last bits of summer and the flavors of fall.
There is still plenty to preserve this time of year, and simple ways to stock up on storage crops so you’ll have them well into the winter. Here are my favorite tips:
Let’s be honest, you can pickle anything. But some of my favorites are: Spicy Pickled Radishes, Pickled Red Onions, Pickled Carrots with Dill and Serrano, and Pickled Beets. You’ll find a lot of quick-pickle recipes online which are meant to be stored in the refrigerator, but if you’re canning to store pickles for the winter, be sure to follow these steps for water bath canning to ensure proper food safety precautions. Pickled radishes and onions top a burger or taco perfectly, pickled carrots are one of my favorite sandwich accompaniments and any of these pickles would be a great addition to liven up a salad.
Canning or flash freezing are great ways to preserve fruit. At this point in fall, a lot of our variety in fruits have come and gone, but apples and pears are still a plenty! Try an applesauce, pie filling or pears in a light syrup to top your ice cream this winter.
Fall is all about the squash and root vegetables for me, so I try to stock up on the varieties that store well and keep local produce in my kitchen deep into the winter. Finding a cool, dry place in your home is the first step to winter storage. Here are a few tips I’ve gathered for some of fall’s best storage crops.
Potatoes: Don’t wash them! Keep them covered with no light, in a ventilated container. 35-40 degrees is optimal, but they will keep for several months at 45-50 degrees.
Onions: Store in mesh bags, away from the light in a cool place (35-40 degrees) But do NOT store onions and potatoes together, they can release gases and moisture that will cause the other to spoil faster.
Squash: Some varieties store longer than others so be sure to choose accordingly. Store in a dry, dark, cool place (~ 50 degrees) and check frequently for any bruising, remove and use the damaged fruit quickly!
These are just a few of the many tips you can learn, so don’t forget to ask questions! Your farmer can help you pick the best varieties and give you advice to store this season’s bounty. Just ask!
Do you have another great way to savor the fall season? Share it with us in the comments!
Tricia Phelps is the Operations Director for Taste the Local Difference. She owns a farm in Cedar, MI and loves to cook with family and friends. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org