by Judy Kautz, OSU Extension Master Gardener
Our first hard freeze is imminent, and now is the time to harvest your remaining produce before our lows dip down to really freezing temperatures. Even though we have had a light frost, you can still harvest your veggies to enjoy later this winter. Here’s how to store these vegetables so you can enjoy them into the winter.
Fall-planted carrots are some of the easiest vegetables to store; wash roots, trim the tops to ½ inch and place in perforated bags. These veggies can be stored in a refrigerator, cold garage or pit for 2-4 months. A box works well for storage; simply layer carrots in sand or soil and place in a cool garage. You may also overwinter your carrots in the ground if you cover them with a heavy layer of mulch. Winter or black radishes may be stored the same way as carrots. Other radishes should be washed and trimmed, top and bottom, and stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator; they will keep up to one month.
Carrots can be stored in a box with soil or sand so they can be used well after harvest.
Winter squash and pumpkins should be stored with part of the stem attached. These vegetables can be placed on shelves in a single layer so air can circulate around them; they will keep for several weeks. Of course, pumpkins are among our favorite decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and they make great pies and soup as well.
Pumpkins should be stored with part of the stem still attached and will keep for several weeks.
Onions are another vegetable that keeps well long after harvest; you should remove tops and then place onions in shallow boxes or mesh bags. They really should be cured in a garage or barn for 3 to 4 weeks before using. Onions will keep for several months if they remain dry.
This was a banner year for green peppers! The recent rain we had in the fall coupled with our cold snap in mid October resulted in a bumper crop of green and jalapeno peppers. Your peppers can be stored in plastic bags at 40 degrees for at least 2-3 weeks. Peppers also freeze well; you can dice or slice them, blanch them in boiling water for four minutes, and freeze them in plastic bags. These frozen peppers work great in sauces, spaghetti, fajitas, etc. – anywhere you use cooked peppers. If you want to use them in salads, do not blanch; just dice them and place in plastic bags right in the freezer.
If you have green peppers that are medium to large sizes, stuffed peppers are a perfect way to prepare a delicious meal for your family and use those extra peppers. Here is my husband Ron’s favorite stuffed pepper recipe: brown 1 ½ pounds of ground beef with 1 cup chopped onion. Add 1 can whole kernel corn, ½ cup instant brown rice, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 can garlic and onion flavored diced tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir and simmer for 15 minutes. In the meantime, cut the tops off 6 – 8 green peppers and remove seeds and excess membrane. Sprinkle inside of peppers with garlic salt and place upright in baking pan. Stir 1 cup shredded cheese into meat mixture and spoon into peppers. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Serve with Texas toast or garlic bread for a yummy and satisfying meal. If you have many, many peppers, you can also freeze your stuffed peppers; when ready to serve, thaw, cut each pepper in half and cook in microwave for 3 minutes. They may be a bit juicy, but extra juice can easily be absorbed by a paper towel. They are a great quick meal for busy evenings.
With proper storage, you can enjoy your vegetable harvest for many weeks to come!
Stuffed peppers are a great way to use green peppers harvested before our recent frost.
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