Dec
30
2015

Long Term Harvest Storage

By Contributor Erik Biksa
Editor at www.grozine.com

Treating Your Harvest Like a Fine Wine

In most instances, harvests taste best fresh; straight off the vine when it comes to fruits, flowers, herbs and leafy greens. Just one of the great reasons to grow your own year round!

However, in some types of plants—and even with some variance from strain to strain, the best qualities come out overtime with storage.
There are some great options we can discuss here to help store your garden treasures over long periods while preserving, or even enhancing, the qualities that you or your market desire.

Mason Jars

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Timeless and highly effective for either dry or wet storage.  Glass mason jars are a great way to store dried flowers, buds and herbs or even fruits.  Naturally they are great for pickling as well.

Likes:
Air tight
Resealable
Inert; does not affect taste or quality
Inexpensive

Not So Much:
Heavy
Allows light to deteriorate quality
Breakable

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Vacuum Sealed Food Storage Bags
Shield N Seal vacuum storage systems and similar are popular with growers. These use flexible lengths of plastic sleeving that require a special machine to vacuum the air from and heat seal.

Likes:
Bags can be cut to any reasonable size
Fairly airtight (they are not entirely impermeable)
Lightweight
Intended for food
Compact packaging

Not So Much:
Does not protect product from rough handling
Can be punctured with stems from inside the bag
Time consuming to vacuum and heat seal
Cost can start to add up with time and materials
Not easily re-sealable by consumer

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What About Nitrogen Gas and Vacuum Sealing?

Professional food packagers may choose Nitrogen gas to displace air from vacuum sealing bags.  Alternatively, sealed bags may be filled with nitrogen gas to create a “pillow” to protect more delicate dried goods.  Professional machines can range from under four figures to well above depending on the size, level of sophistication (automation) and potential output levels.

Turkey Oven Bags
Very similar to vacuum bags, as above, with the added advantage of being less time consuming to seal product with wire ties although they may not be suitable for vacuum sealing, ie less shelf life because of air in bag

“Smelly Proof” Bags
Looks like your average re-sealable freezer or sandwich bag with the big exception that they are very air tight and allow to odours to escape; big improvement over the regular food storage bags for most gardeners.  Great for dried goods or even freezing sauces.

Likes:
Re-sealable
Available in clear or black
Effective at containing flavors and aromas
Food Grade
Variety of Standard Sizes

Not So Much:
Not widely available versus others

5 GREAT Tips for BEST Long Term Storage

1. Keep strong light away from your harvest through handling as well as in final storage; light will deteriorate qualities fast.
2. Oxygen is your enemy; using CO2 to displace air in your packaging helps but it’s better to vacuum all of the air out and add some Nitrogen. This will greatly enhance quality over longer term storage.
coffee-packaging-nitrogen-generators3. Make sure your harvest is absolutely ready for final storage first—unwanted moisture content in seemingly dried goods can ruin the quality if left unnoticed in long term storage.
4. In the case of bags or jars, don’t over pack; cramming can damage the quality.
5. Keep in a cool dark place but avoid freezing or drastic swings in temperature.

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