I’ve been meaning to post this for a long time now. We’ve been using this system for over five years and it has met our needs well, providing plenty of potatoes from harvest to harvest. This is what any remaining potatoes look like after wintering in the freezer. As of mid-May in Ohio, they’re just starting to sprout, but most are still very firm and taste great. None are rotting or smelly. The Kennebecs seem to fare better than the Pontiacs (red) which can be a little bit softer.
We pull out a bunch to take to the house to eat over the summer and then use the rest for “seed potatoes.” I’m not sure what “best practice” would be in terms of selecting potatoes for seed (maybe reserving the biggest, nicest ones for this purpose?) It’s tempting to cook those ones up, and honestly we always seem to have plenty so I just never gave it much thought, but it could be worth considering, especially if you are limited on garden space.
Once it’s consistently warm outside, I do recommended dealing with potatoes in the freezer one way or another as they will begin to deteriorate in the summer heat.
We had a bumper crop of potatoes last year. After freezing them (as fries, casseroles, etc), canning some, and giving over 200 lbs away, we needed a reliable way to store the rest. The goal was to have enough potatoes stored to take us through to the next harvest…and possibly never to have to buy potatoes again. We didn’t have a basement or root cellar (or time/funds to build a full-blown root cellar), so we had to get creative. Clyde remembered his dad talking about burying old chest freezers for overwintering vegetables and we decided to give it a try. His sister’s freezer had recently died and so was recruited for the job.
Clyde removed all of the working parts and cut two holes in each side. (Note: if your appliance still contains freon, certified individuals can be hired for freon removal or these services may be available at area junk yards or recycling centers.) To the holes he attached PVC pipe for air circulation. When in the ground, it looked like someone had buried a semi. A tarp was partly buried as well in order to protect the freezer and allow easier access during icy conditions. We later added a sheet of insulation under the tarp as well. Clyde made crates for easier storage and better air circulation.With hopeful trepidation, we packed away our harvest. We were careful to store only the best potatoes and packed the smaller ones in the upper boxes so we’d use them first.
I’m pleased to report that our deep-freeze root cellar had great results! Mid-winter the potatoes looked just as we’d left them. In early spring only a little bit of sprouting had occurred. Later in the spring we sorted through some of the more deteriorated ones to use as seed potatoes for this year’s crop. Now, in late June, they are not as attractive out of the box, but most still scrub up well, are quite firm and have a good taste and texture. Although a true root cellar is still on the wish list, it’s nice to find an easy, inexpensive solution that works so well.
This post is part of Homestead Revival’s Homestead Barn Hop. Check out the rest of the great homesteady ideas and information by following the link!