Post-Harvest Treatment of Veggies

Note to self – we need to get a copy of the USDA publication The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stocks. It’s supposed to be very good – accurate and complete (if it’s good enough for Eliot Coleman it’s good enough for me).  I’m getting a lot of great tips from The New Organic Grower.

Basically veggies don’t know they’ve been picked – they keep on breathing out water and going about their veggie business (oddly I think French Revolution). Two important ways to minimize water loss are to keep the veggies cool and to keep them in a place with relative humidity between 85-90%.  You should also remove unneeded greens (carrot tops, outside floppy leaves on cabbage).  If you pick at any time other than dawn you need to get the “field heat” off of them as quickly as possible.  This can include a quick dunk in cool well water.

Ideas for cool storage include a root cellar or a makeshift giant refrigerator made out of a small room + a large air conditioner (or fan + wet cloth).  There are also all kinds of considerations about what foods shouldn’t be stored together (ethylene gas, different smells, etc.).