How to Best Pick and Store Your Vegetables
Pick all your vegetables in the coolest weather you can. Cloudy days, early mornings, and evenings are always best.
Use a clean, sharp knife to cut your vegetables from the plant. Use clean containers to put your crops in. Be gentle when you handle your crops so they don’t bruise. Put a clean, dry cloth at the bottom of each container to protect the crops.
Keep your containers in the shade as you fill them. Then follow instructions for each vegetable to store it in the right way.
If the vegetable needs to be moist when stored, cover it with plastic with slits or holes. Or, if you have a humidifier in your cooler, set it to 95%.
Take your crops to the market as soon as you can. Then they will be fresh, healthy, and colorful.
Some vegetables are still good a long time after you pick them. That is why it is important to pick and store these common American vegetables first:
Cabbage. Pick cabbage when the heads are firm. Keep them cold and moist. Cabbage will spoil after about five months.
Carrots. Pick carrots when the tops are one inch around. Take the tops off the carrots. Keep them cold and moist. Carrots will spoil after about eight months.
Garlic. Pick garlic when about half the leaves are yellow. Dry bulbs at room temperature for about two to four weeks. Store them under dry and cold conditions. Garlic will spoil after about four months.
Onions. Pick onions when their necks are tight and their scales are dry. First store them dry at room temperature for two to four weeks. Then store onions dry and cold, but do not freeze. Onions will spoil after about four months.
Potatoes. Pick potatoes when the vines die. Keep them cold and moist and away from the light. Potatoes will spoil after about six months.
Other crops will spoil soon after you pick them. That is why it is important to pick and store these vegetables last:
Basil. Pick basil when the leaves are tender. Put stems in water. Keep at room temperature. Basil will spoil after about five days.
Beans (snap). Pick snap beans two to three weeks after the plant blooms. Keep them moist and cool, but not cooler than 40 degrees. Beans will spoil after about one week.
Cauliflower. Pick cauliflower when the heads are still white. Keep them cold and moist. Cauliflower will spoil after about three weeks.
Corn (sweet). Pick sweet corn when the silks are dry and brown. Check a kernel by cutting it open with your thumbnail. If the inside of the kernel is milky, it is the right picking time. Keep corn cold and moist. Corn will spoil after about five days.
Cucumbers. Pick cucumbers when they are six inches long. Keep them cool but not colder than 40 degrees. Do not store cucumbers with apples or tomatoes. Cucumbers will spoil after about one week.
Eggplant. Pick eggplant when their color is bright. Keep them cool but not cooler than 50 degrees. Eggplant will spoil after about one week.
Lettuce. Pick lettuce while the leaves are tender. Keep leaves cold and moist. Lettuce will spoil after about one week.
Peas. Pick peas while the pods are still tender. Keep them cold and moist. Peas will spoil after about one week.
Peppers. Pick peppers when they are the size and color you want. Keep them cool but not cooler than 45 degrees. Peppers will spoil after about two weeks.
Radishes. Pick radishes when the roots are up to 1 and 1/4″inches around. Take the tops off the radishes. Keep them cold and moist. Radishes will spoil after about one month.
Spinach. Pick spinach while the leaves are still tender. Keep the leaves cold and moist. Spinach will spoil after about ten days.
Squash (summer). Pick summer squash when they are four to six inches long. Keep them cool. Summer squash will spoil after about one week.
Tomatoes (red). Pick red tomatoes when they are pink or red all over. Keep cool but do not refrigerate. Tomatoes will spoil after about five days.