How to Harvest, Cure and Store Onions – Root Cellaring, Braiding, Dehydrating and Freezing

How to Harvest, Cure and Store Onions - Root Cellaring, Braiding, Dehydrating and Freezing

You can enjoy home grown onions for months after the growing season has finished with just a little extra time and effort. In this post we’ll cover onion harvest, curing onions, and several different onion storage methods.

Which Onions are Best for Storage?

I usually grow onions from onion sets (the little mini onion bulbs).  Out of the red, white and yellow varieties I’ve tried, the yellow Stuttgarter Riesen has been the best keeper. Stuttgarter Riesen is a large, deep golden-yellow onion with firm white flesh.  The reds and whites I’ve tried have not kept as well, so I usually use them first.  My friend, Tami, said that the onions she started from seed were much more solid and less prone to rotting than the ones that she started from sets.  The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible recommends Stockton Reds for storage.  I’ve grown them, and they store fairly well, but the Stuttgarters store better.  He also recommends the varieties Copra and Prince. [Read more…]

Preserving Strawberries Four Ways – Freezing, Drying, Fruit Leather and Kombucha

Preserving Strawberries Four Ways – Freezing, Drying, Fruit Leather and KombuchaThe boys and I went strawberry picking twice this season, and came home with two trays of berries each time.  To put away some of these beautiful berries to enjoy for the rest of the year, we made two batches of low sugar jam (strawberry and strawberry-banana).  We also used four other methods of preserving strawberries – freezing, drying, making fruit leather and flavoring kombucha.

Preserving Strawberries Four Ways - Freezing, Drying, Fruit Leather and Kombucha

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Preserving Asparagus Three Ways – Freezing, Drying and Lacto-Fermenting

Preserving Asparagus Three Ways - Freezing, Drying and Lacto-Fermenting

I had the opportunity to babysit my neighbors asparagus patch for two weeks earlier this season, and I was blessed with a bounty of asparagus like I have never seen.  The photo above was just one picking – and it kept coming!  For those who are not asparagus savvy, you need to keep the spears harvested during the production season, otherwise they will get tall and produce seed, and you will have no more asparagus to harvest.  Thus, I was over picking every two to three days to keep the plants producing.  The neighbors have a lovely 100+ year old farmhouse, and four different asparagus patches around the yard.  As I was picking, the fresh spears looked so good that I decided to try one raw for the first time.  It was really good!  It tasted very much like fresh picked green peas, without much of the stronger “asparagus” taste that puts many people off.  I ate several more.  :-)  Since there was such a bounty, I used several methods of preserving asparagus. [Read more…]

How to Make Sauerkraut

How to Make Sauerkraut - Naturally fermented and filled with probiotics, sauerkraut is a time honored way to add color and flavor to your meals.

Sauerkraut has been around for at least a couple of thousand years.  If you’d like a more detailed history, you can take a peek at this article.  It was eaten by workers on the Great Wall of China, packed by Captain Cook to prevent scurvy, and valued by Northeastern Europeans as a staple food through the long winters.  While the name may mean “rotten cabbage”, if you do it right it should be quite the opposite, staying fresh for an extended period of time. [Read more…]

Corn Party!

I wasn’t sure how much of a corn harvest we’d have this year, as we were hit with heavy wind and rain about the time the corn was tasseling out.   July 15th found much of my corn nearly flat on the ground.

knocked down corn

Comments were flying around Facebook about how to cope with this, and most folks said just to leave it and hope it came back up, but the ground was so wet and the corn was so tall that I knew if I didn’t get it upright the stalks would grow curved.  (I have had this happen before and ended up with a tangled mess.)  The boys and I pounded in stakes at intervals along the rows.  We then tied twines/ropes between the stakes, bracing the tipping corn against the twine.

corn stalks

We got hit bad one more time, but most of the corn stayed upright.  We did end up with a few curved stalks, but nothing too serious.

My sister and her husband came to visit recently and were kind enough to pitch in with round one of corn harvesting (variety – Spring Treat from Fedco Garden Seeds).  Never let it be said that I don’t know how to show someone a good time. 😉  We ended up with a bumper crop, harvested in high heat and humidity.  Husking the corn was sticky work.

husking corn
boys husking corn

Two five gallon tubs turned into a pretty sizable pile of corn – over twice the size of last year’s harvest.

lots of corn

I won’t get into the picking and processing details here (you can look at last year’s post for that information). As I said above, we ended up with more than twice the amount of corn harvested last season.

processed corn

With this and second crop (Tuxedo), we should be more than set until next harvest.

I do want to point out something that is frustrating to me that I can’t do a darn thing about – genetic contamination.  Take a look at this close up of a corn cob.

genetically contaminated corn

Every strand of silk forms a kernel.  Corn pollen to fertilize those silks is borne on the wind and can travel for miles.  Look at the center of the photo.  See the darker kernel?  That’s likely GMO (genetically modified organism) contamination from my neighbor’s field corn.  The majority of field corn planted in the United States is now genetically modified.  Although I’d prefer not to eat this, it’s not a huge deal for me on such a minimal scale.  The same can’t be said for others.  Bt corn (corn that is modified to produce it’s own insecticide) is making pests resistant to Bt, one of the only natural pest control methods available to organic farmers.  (Bt is a naturally occurring organism that gives caterpillars “fatal tummyaches”.)

I’ve been suspecting for some time that the recent rise in allergies is influenced by the increased amount of GM corn and soy in our diets, and I’m not the only one.  Further, for those that save seed, GMO corn is destroying heirloom varieties that have existed for generations, and contaminating non-GMO fields around the world.  My favorite seed catalog, Fedco Garden Seeds, tests their seed corn each year for contamination.  They regularly have to pull some varieties because they have been contaminated with GM seed.  It’s pretty frustrating.

What can we do?  Educate yourself.  If you have a garden, look for seed sources that are not owned by the agri-business giants (my sidebar has my personal favorites).  Try heirloom, open pollinated and standard hybrids.  Buy organic when you can.  Organic products (as of this writing) cannot use GMOs.  The corporations are dominated by profits.  If we won’t buy products, they loose money.  If you feel inclined, write to the food manufacturer of your choice and tell them that you don’t want to eat genetically engineered food.  Write to your congressman and tell them you support labeling of GM foods.  It’s slow going, but people demanding real food are making a difference.

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This post has been added to: Simple Lives Thursday