The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Curing Storage Vegetables

Some of your storage vegetables need to be cured before storage; some don't.  If you cure vegetables that don't need to be cured, they'll rot.  And if you don't cure vegetables that do need to be cured, they'll rot too.  Time for a good list!

Curing method
1 - 2 weeks in a warm, dry place
2 - 3 weeks in a warm, dry place
2 weeks at 50 - 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 95% humidity (slightly warmer than a root cellar)
Sweet Potato
2 weeks at 80 - 85 degrees Fahrenheit (dry)
Winter Squash (including Pumpkins)
2 weeks in a warm, dry place.  (Don't cure acorn squash!)

Curing serves a couple of purposes.  In all crops except white potatoes, a primary purpose is to dry the vegetable up so that it won't rot in storage.  White and sweet potatoes and winter squashes develop a hard skin during curing that will protect the crop during storage.

Curing sweet potatoes and butternut squashThe cheapest and easiest method I've come up with for curing vegetables is to lay them out on some old window screens Mom found for me by the side of the road.  I put the first screen on four cinderblocks, cover the screen with drying vegetables, then put bricks on the four corners of the frame to let me put another screen on top for a second drying layer.  The trick is to get good air circulation all the way around your vegetables, so don't pile the roots on top of each other.  If you're a good scavenger, you can recreate my curing rack setup for next to nothing.

People with more space will get away with drying their vegetables inside, but our trailer just isn't big enough to handle that type of operation.  Instead, I harvest my crops a bit earlier than other folks might and put my drying racks under a tarp or roof outside to cure storage vegetables before the frost hits.

This post is part of our Storage Vegetables lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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