Storing root vegetables

Beets and other roots vegetables are stored in damp sand

As well as freezing, pickling and preserving fruit and vegetables, we also store some crops as is.

Most root vegetables can be stored in clamps—layered between straw with soil heaped over the top—or in boxes that replicate the effect of clamps by keeping the vegetable cool, slightly damp and away from the air.

We used heavy duty plastic tubs, as these are strong, stackable, reasonably ratproof and able to be carried when full (if you’re reasonably strong as they weigh about 30kg when full).

We select the larger, mature roots, reject any that are blemished or damaged, and lay them out in layers, covering each layer with sand.

When the tub is filled almost to the handles, the top layer of roots are covered with a final inch of sand and a watering can is used to sprinkle a little water over the top.

The tubs are stacked in the centre of the workshop, away from the walls where the temperatures can drop below freezing on the coldest winter nights.

The smaller, more tender roots tend to be used for pickling while damaged ones are used for chutneys or processed and frozen.

Wooden boxes or wicker baskets are also suitable, but are more prone to rat attacks. They also rot after a few seasons use.

5 Responses to “Storing root vegetables”

  1. My Dad remembers storing vegetables in just that way (minus the plastic) in the very cold Ukrainian winters, except that they stored their veg in an underground room.

  2. I remember you saying some of your family members don’t care too much for beets. Perhaps the Swedish dish pyttipanna might bring them round. The beets can either be pickled or just cooked (boiled or roasted). Its other main component is potato, which you seem to have in abundance. It can be made vegetarian or with meat if there are any leftovers around. I like it for breakfast (sometimes even with a fried egg on top) when I anticipate a lot of heavy work. But it could serve for dinner too. -Good peasant food with simple ingredients made tasty.

  3. May I ask what kind of sand you use? I never realised there were different types until I wanted to get some to try and improve drainage in some the garden of the last place I lived and ended up getting very confused at the garden centre (one of the bigger ones, can’t remember now which one though). There were lots of different types and colours, most of it seemed to be intended to construction rather than gardening and I just got the Look (you know, the one that makes you feel like you’ve got two heads and possibly something strange growing out of your ears) from the staff when I asked.


  4. You want horticultural sharp sand for anything to do with soil and plants. It’s chemically inert and safe to use in soil and with plants.

    Builder’s sharp sand may be washed—although the cheaper stuff often isn’t—but it’s still not as clean and inert as the horticultural sharp sand.

    As for the grades:

    Sharp sand is coarse with large particles and is used for concreting, laying slabs, etc.

    Builders/bricklayers/soft sand has smaller particles and is used for mortar.

    Plastering sand is finer still.

    Play sand is finer still and is for the children to make a mess with.

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