Onions with a longer shelf life (most varieties except for sweet onions such as yellow, white or pearl) can be stored in a dry cool place – like a cold cellar. The storage area should be dry with a temperature around 7°C ° to 13°C (or 45°F – 55°F).
Potatoes can also last in the cold cellar over the winter. After digging up potatoes from your garden, spread them out and let them dry. Rub off any excess dirt. Look over your potatoes and remove any skin with dark or soft spots and remove any slugs. Be sure to use these potatoes first. Place remaining potatoes in a clean box with a layer of rice or straw to remove any moisture. Store in a dark, cool area, around 7°C ° to 13°C (or 45°F – 55°F). Immediately remove any potatoes that start to go soft before it spoils.
Other root vegetables can be stored in like manner but most experts advise to leave about 2.5 cm of the tops on the vegetable. This should also be done with beets and carrots.
It is important to follow home canning instructions carefully to reduce the risk of botulism, a potentially fatal illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.
Low acid foods like most vegetables and meats (pH greater than 4.6 and water activity greater than 0.85) must be canned with a pressure canner capable of reaching 116 oC or higher in order to kill C. botulinum spores.
Please see the The National Centre for Home Food Preservation for information on Using Pressure Canners.
High acid foods (foods with a pH of less than 4.6) are usually canned using a boiling water bath. High acid foods include most fruit-based jams, jellies, and vinegar-based pickles and relishes which can be acidic naturally; have acid added to them (vinegar or lemon juice); or become acidic through fermentation like sour kraut.
Please see The National Centre for Home Foor Preservation for information on Using Boiling Water Canners.
For information on pH values for various foods, please see the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
For answers to some home canning Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), visit UnlockFood.Ca.
For detailed information, Public Health Ontario has prepared a Home Canning Literature Review.
Food Safety in the Garden
Community gardens have become increasingly popular, but not all gardeners are familiar with food safety practices that reduce the risk of foodborne illness. The Growing Safer Gardens team of researchers have developed guidelines that address how to limit risk in these gardens. Please see A Handbook for Beginning + Veteran Garden Organizers: How to Reduce Food Safety Risks for more information.