A documentation of my preservation and preparation of local foods as I work through the seasons. This will serve as a reference tool for me in the future and as a sharing guide for family and friends...and anyone else interested. Hopefully, I can offer some useful methods, tips and recipes to share with everyone--be they novice or pro--and encourage them to join me in the exciting world of preserving and cooking with local foods.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Storing: a bunch of garlic, a leg of onions and my rista

The beginning of my winter storage begins with the crops which have to be picked before a freeze.  summer onions, hardneck garlic and chili peppers 
summer onions, hardneck garlic and chili peppers

Storing Garlic:  Both the softneck and hardneck varieties of garlic store well.  The softneck can be braided and stores longer (6+ mos), but I prefer the hardneck for its easier-to-peel, larger cloves.  I store it in a bunch without any of the cloves touching and in a cool, dark and dry place, it lasts 4-6 months.

Onions:  I store both summer and winter varieties of onions.  I love the sweeter, milder "Candy" varieties of summer; yet the winter varieties are designed for storage as they store longer and maintain their quality better with minimal prep.  Summer onions should be stored not touching; otherwise they will spoil.  An old tried and true method for achieving this is to store them in nylon stockings, see pic above.  I found that a nylon knee-high holds 4-6 onions (knots between onions).  Winter onions can be stored in a bin.  All onions store best at from 35-50 degrees in a dry, dark place.

My rista (string of chili peppers):  I prefer to dry my chili peppers over dehydrating them.  (Dehydrating very hot peppers gives off strong fumes, so do that in a well-ventilated area.)  Tie them by the stem, or use needle and thread through stem, along a string so they are not touching.  Hang them to dry where they'll get plenty of sunlight and fresh air.  It should only take a few days.  After drying, I hang them in my kitchen and pull them off as needed.  The rista pictured above has arbol peppers, my favorite.  They are somewhat like cayenne pepper in heat and flavor.

In the alternative, on cool and cloudy days, I oven-dry them.  Lay them out on a sheet pan covered with parchment or foil.  Put in oven at 250 until dry.
  Too pretty to crush; I keep them in a jar on
the counter and crush them as I use them.

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