We put so much work and thought into our gardens, and there's nothing like being rewarded with a bountiful harvest of potatoes, carrots, turnips, or radishes. Sometimes, the garden provides much more than we can eat today or even tomorrow. Some crops, we grow specifically to store. It is heartbreaking to watch the fruits of our labor shrivel up in the crisper or get soggy and rotten before we can enjoy them.
Food always tastes best when it's freshly harvested, but knowing how to store your root veggies properly can both help retain some of that great garden-fresh flavor and prolong the amount of time it will keep. With that in mind, here are the best ways of storing some of the most popular root vegetables.
How to Store Root Vegetables
- Beets: Cut the tops off. Brush off any soil, but don't wash them. Store your beets in an open bowl or another container with a damp towel or paper towel set over the top. Don't refrigerate.
- Carrots: Cut the tops off, brush off any soil. Store them in a cool place (the refrigerator crisper drawer or lowest shelf) in an open container. They need to be kept moist to stay crisp, so wrap them in a damp towel.
- Celeriac: Wrap the individual roots in a damp towel—store in your refrigerator's crisper drawer.
- Garlic: Remove the foliage and let the garlic sit out in a dry spot for a few days to cure. Brush off any soil, then store your garlic in a cool, dark place. Garlic bulbs can be stored in bowls or baskets; make sure to check stored garlic regularly for any mushiness or signs of sprouting.
- Onions: Remove the foliage and let the bulbs cure for a few days in a dry spot. Brush off any soil and store in a cool dark place. It's better if you can avoid placing onions in bowls since they need good air circulation. Store them in old stockings or mesh produce bag. Hang if at all possible.
- Parsnips: Remove the greens, brush off the soil. Best stored wrapped in a damp towel in the crisper drawer.
- Potatoes: Harvest, brush off any soil. Let them sit out to dry a bit before storing. Store the potatoes in a cool dark place. They can be stored in baskets, bowls, or even paper bags. Try to avoid storing potatoes too close to onions, as this can make them go bad more quickly.
- Radishes: Remove the greens, brush or wash off any soil. Radishes can be stored in the refrigerator in a bowl covered with a damp towel.
- Sweet Potatoes: Harvest, let the sweet potatoes' skin dry before storing. Clean off any soil, and store your sweet potatoes in a cool dark place that has good ventilation. They can be stored in bowls or baskets.
- Turnips: Remove the greens and clean off any soil. Store turnips in a container covered with a damp cloth. Best stored in the refrigerator crisper or lowest shelf.
Don't Forget the Greens
Several of the root crops listed above also have edible greens. So when you remove the tops from your turnips, radishes, or beets, don't toss them out! Store the greens wrapped in a damp towel or paper towel in an airtight container. They should be stored in your refrigerator. Beet, turnip, and radish greens are all delicious added to soups or stir-fries, and smaller leaves are great added raw to salads.