Farmbox Co.

How to Store Root Vegetables to Keep Them Fresher for Longer

Do you know how to keep your radishes fresh for three weeks? Do you know what bags and containers to use in and out of the fridge for your veggies? To find out these answers and more check out our blog series on keeping your fruits and veggies fresher for longer to maximise their nutrition and taste. You can find the first blog *here* (or link in bio) about all things root vegetables. We’re rooting for you to keep your veggies fresh!

Welcome to the first FarmBLOG in our series on fruit and vegetable storage. Our aim is to give you a really great idea on how to maximise the freshness of your fruit and veg so that you can make the most of what you have in the fridge. The goal of course being to reduce waste and keep costs down to help both the planet and your wallet.

How you store your fruits and veggies has an enormous impact on their longevity and how tasty they are when you use them. The first step in veg freshness is actually the selection process. You want to ensure your fruit and veg are fresh to begin with and haven’t been sitting for months in refrigerated storage. This usually means shopping seasonally, which is actually better for you, your budget and the planet. You also want to look for signs of aging in your veggies and fruits; mould, soft spots and sprouting in root vegetables.

Of course, if you’re getting your fruits and veggies from us, then you don’t have to worry about the selection process because we’re doing it for you! Our fruit and veggie boxes are sourced from local producers and seasonal, so you’re automatically getting freshness and quality.

In this first blog we’re talking all things root vegetable, including pumpkins, squash, turnips, potatoes, onions, carrots and more – basically anything in that could belong in a deliciously warming winter stew.

There are no general rules when it comes to storage for these veggies unfortunately. Some like the fridge and others like a cool, dark place outside the fridge. Let’s start there. 

VegetableHow long does it keep
(ideal conditions)
Notes
Onions1-2 months Don’t store near potatoes. Store in a mesh bag
ShallotsUp to 1 month Store in a mesh bagStore in a mesh bag
Garlic

3 weeks (Several months)
Store in a mesh bag
All pumpkin varieties, including butternut2+ weeks
(2-4 months)
Once cut, wrap in food wrap and store in the fridge. Cooked pumpkin can be frozen for up to 10 months.
Hard squash

2+ weeks
(2-4 months)
Includes winter, acorn, spaghetti
All types of potatoes3+ weeks
(4 – 6 months)
Potatoes shouldn’t be kept in the fridge (see below)
Rutabagas2-3 weeksThese can also be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks
Carrots2-3 weeksAlso very happy in the fridge 

You can see the huge difference depending on whether conditions are ideal or not. Temperature, moisture and airflow are the biggest factors here. Ideally, you would keep your veggies at 10-15 degrees Celsius, which means they’ll do much better in winter than in summer depending on conditions in your house.

So what are the ideal conditions?

The space has to be:

Dark – the absence of light means your veg won’t sprout

Cool but not damp – these veggies will rot with moisture

Have some airflow –  a cupboard isn’t ideal, but since you may not have access to a cool cupboard or root cellar, it will have to do if you don’t have a pantry. Ensure it’s not too full so that your veg have a better chance of ventilation.

A dedicated pantry is the best option aside from our gold standard root cellar/cold cupboard, especially one that’s well ventilated. Your usual pantry will work well if you have a dark, airy corner for your root veggies.

You also want to keep these veggies out of plastic, which will increase the moisture and hasten rotting. You’re much better off using a fabric string, paper, hessian or mesh bag to store them. An added bonus here is that these can double as shopping bags when it’s time to go to the market. 

You also need to either store these veggies unwashed, or make sure you dry them thoroughly after washing them.

So now we know the ideal conditions, let’s talk through some of our fussier veg that prefer even more specific conditions.

Potatoes should never be in the fridge or next to onions

Who knew the humble potato could be such a troublemaker?! Keeping potatoes seems easy, but spud storage can actually have some potentially serious health implications. Storing your potatoes in the fridge can increase the amount of sugar they contain, which can lead to higher levels of a chemical called acrylamide. While this chemical is naturally occurring, it’s considered to be a potential carcinogen in humans at increased levels, so keeping your spuds out of the fridge will decrease the risk of ingesting higher levels of it and be generally better for your health. Don’t panic though – it’s naturally occurring, so it’s perfectly safe to have your potatoes, just keep them out of the fridge.

You also want to keep your potatoes separate from your onions. Onions are a bad influence on potatoes, which sprout faster when there are onions around.

In The Fridge

It might seem like we’ve come to the easy part, but storing veggies in the fridge is more complicated than you may think. Your fridge will likely have a crisper, or vegetable compartment, but did you know that some fridges allow you to control the humidity on those compartments? Have a look in your fridge and if your veggie drawers have air vents which you can open and close, then you can control your humidity my friend!

While most fruits like low humidity, most veggies prefer high humidity, so it’s best to close those vents. You can also influence humidity by storing your veggies in reusable veggie bags. Fortunately, we like to keep our veggies away from our fruits (see below), so you can just have one high and one low humidity veggie compartment in the fridge.

Before we get any further, let’s have a look at our fridge-loving veggies: 

VegetableHow long does it keep
(ideal conditions)
Notes
Spring onion3 – 5 daysAlternative storage in a glass – see below
Summer squash, yellow squash3 – 5 daysBlanch and freeze to keep for up to 3 months
Carrots
3 – 4 weeks
Keep in a container or reusable veggie bag to avoid them drying out
Parsnips, turnips3 – 4 weeks
Keep in a container or reusable veggie bag to avoid them drying out. Remove turnip tops
Beetroot
2 – 3 weeks
Remove the tops (and use them) and pop them in a reusable veggie bag or airtight container
Radishes (including daikon)2 – 3 weeks
Remove their tops (and use them!) and pop them in slightly damp paper towel or reusable veggie bag in a container.
Ginger1 – 2 weeks in the fridge, 6 months in the freezer (but it will lose some flavour towards the end of the 6 months)Store in an airtight container. You can also freeze it whole or sliced in an airtight container to prolong its life

Spring Onion (green onion / scallion)

Spring onions will last pretty well for 3-5 days in the fridge if you follow the below instructions, however, you can also prolong their life in a clean jar.

First the fridge instructions. Remove the rubber band holding the spring onion bunch together and wash them thoroughly. Pat them mostly dry and then store them in the fridge wrapped in damp (not wet!) paper towel and in a veggie bag or just in a damp reusable cloth veggie bag. They’ll happily keep for 3-5 days. Just dampen the cloth or paper towel if it dries out

To prolong their life for a couple more days, or a week in the right conditions, after washing and drying the spring onions, pop them in a tall clean jar standing up and fill up the jar with enough water to cover the white part. Next, pop a reusable cloth bag or plastic bag over the green tops and use a rubber band to secure the bag against the jar (without pulling down the green ends). Now place the jar in the fridge and go about your day!

Your final option is to place them in a jar as above, with a little water to cover the white part and pop them on a sunny window. With this method, they’ll keep growing. Just change the water every couple of days.

Carrot, Beet, Turnip & Radish Tops

You want to remove the leafy parts of these veggies before you store them in the fridge because they draw moisture from the veggies, but don’t throw them out! Carrot and radish tops can be used in pesto and beet leaves can be roasted or thrown in salads. Beet and turnip leaves are delicious in soups or stir fries. Store them as you would other leafy greens and they’ll keep for about a week.

Keep your fruits and veggies separate after unpacking your box

Just like with potatoes and onions, we want to separate our fruit and veggies both in and out of the fridge. The reason is fruits like apples and pears produce a gas called ethylene, which speeds up the ripening process in other veggies and fruits if they’re nearby. It’s the reason why when you spend $2 on a rock hard avocado, you can ripen it by putting it next to the bananas in the fruit bowl.

Some fruits produce more ethylene than others and some vegetables ripen faster than others as a result. Choice has a handy table showing which fruits and vegetables are the highest producers and which are the most sensitive. You can find it here.

When in doubt, freeze!

If you have some beautiful produce that you know you won’t be using soon, you can always freeze it, and the sooner the better - to preserve nutrients and taste. For most veggies you’ll want to blanch them before freezing, but some, like ginger, can be frozen whole. For blanching, just pop them in boiling water for a minute or two and then immediately refresh in cold water. They’ll keep for up to a year.

Unfortunately you can’t use the freezing method for eggplant, artichoke, lettuce or other greens, potato (although you can mashed), radishes or sweet potato.

We’re rooting for you!

So that’s it from us on root veggie storage. Let us know what you think and if you have other methods that have worked well. Of course, if you want to get practicing, our seasonal FarmBOX options in our shop generally contain most of the root veg mentioned above (depending on what's in season) so be sure to give our tips a go and enjoy getting those veggies to stretch out a little longer in freshness!