There’s no denying it – fall is right at our heels. There can be a lot to take care of this time of year, and if you’ve been lucky quite a bit of it will have to do with harvesting and storing your garden’s bountiful rewards. Here are some tips for some common vegetables:
Onions and other Alliums
Onions and alliums are a desert-island staple among many of the world’s top chefs. As summer comes to a close, you’ll start to notice your onion greens folding and hanging over. This means it’s time to harvest, and they can be gentled pulled by the greens to remove them from the soil. Pungent onions should be cured prior to storage, which is achieved by giving them plenty of space in a dry environment for up to a month. Store your alliums in a dark and cool place. Mild onions tend to spoil more quickly (often less than a month), but you’ll be delighted to hear that the more pungent counterparts can keep sometimes up to a year!
Winter squash can take quite some time to ripen, but once they do they’ll be full of flavor and can be stored for the long haul – if cared for properly. Once the vines die back and the squash has developed a hard skin, they should be ready for harvest. Make sure to take them in before frost or will ruin the flesh! Store your winter squash on a drying rack in a cool, dry place and they should be usable for several months.
The summer months are full of flavor with herbs growing at their fullest, but you can enjoy them throughout the year by drying or freezing. If you choose to dry the plants, pull up the whole plant by the root and hang upside down until the leaves have become brittle and paper-like. Then remove the leaves and collect in a jar for use throughout the year. Alternatively, freezing your herbs can retain more flavor, but this is really better suited for cooking use. Wash, trim, and dry your herbs thoroughly before freezing for best results.
Potatoes and Tubers
Nothing says fall like a pan of roasted potatoes. When your potatoe greens begin to die away and turn brown it’s time to dig up the gold. Nothing too fancy here! Just be careful not to damage the skin or the flesh, as this will obviously reduce shelf life. Cure your potatoes for a few weeks prior to storage by spreading them out in a dry environment. Store them in a cool and dry place without cleaning and you’ll be stocked up for the winter.
Artichokes are the classic Western American vegetable – and truly a delicacy if prepared well. They are ready to harvest once the leaves are just beginning to spread, and should be cut such that a generous amount of stem remains. Unfortunately they don’t have the longest shelf life, so keep them cool and make sure to use them quickly so they don’t go to waste!