How to Store Fresh Vegetables all Year Long

How to store fresh vegetables from the garden in every season, including: lettuce, kale, radishes, turnips, asparagus, zucchini, celery, eggplant, corn, onions, squash, pumpkins, root crops, canning, pickling and freezing.

| August/September 1996

These harvest tips show you how to store fresh vegetables from your garden all year round.  

How to Store Fresh Vegetables all Year Long

I am continually amazed at all the things that go on in a vegetable garden. Each year is different — changed by the weather, by my own "experiments" with fertility, by the varieties I grow, and perhaps by my attitude. Each vegetable is different in color, size, shape, taste, growing characteristics. Take storage characteristics, for example. There are some vegetables that can't be stored while others can be thrown in a corner and stay wonderful for six months. Go figure. 

I grew up with my mother telling me there was no such word as "can't," so I better fix that. You can store lettuce by drying it. I just don't know what to do with dried lettuce. Smoke it? After more than 20 years of harvest success and failure, bounty and boondoggle, I've planted just about everything that I thought had a fighting chance in our northern climate, and the list that follows, though not absolutely comprehensive, provides a bird's-eye view of how your produce should be doing at the end of the season, as well as some storage secrets that will keep a steady supply of it on your dinner plates through the year.


There are a number of vegetables that I don't store any longer than they will keep in the refrigerator. Lettuce is one of these, but I love lettuce so I want to have it fresh from the garden for as long as possible. I extend the season in the spring by starting seedlings in the house. The first lettuce from transplants will reach the table in mid-June. That planting will have pretty much gone by in a month, which is when the second planting, planted from seed in mid-May, should be ready for harvest. Plantings in mid-June, mid-July and mid-August will keep the lettuce coming until November. We have even had lettuce from the garden on the Thanksgiving table. People in more southern climates may not think that is much of a feat, but our first fall frost comes around September 20.

Lettuce is not killed by early frosts because the cell walls are more elastic than most vegetables. When the water within the cells expands as it freezes, the cell walls expand also. Tender crops like cucumbers die at the first light frost because their cell walls burst.

6/23/2016 7:47:48 AM

That list comes very handy, thank you! I love asparagus and I was always wondering how to store it right. I found that trick just a couple of years ago and I've been storing them like this ever since. It was interesting for me to see how you store other veggies, thanks! Diana,

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