Basement Storage for Fall Produce

Farmers markets in the fall have an abundance of vegetables available at frugal prices. By picking and choosing carefully, fall produce can be obtained and stored for later winter consumption. If you have a cool basement, vegetables can be prepared and stored at a considerable savings compared to winter grocery store prices. Shelving in a cool, dry basement that is pest-free will extend the storage life for farm market fruits and vegetables with little effort. Basement shelves, bags, buckets and boxes can be easily used to store many fruits and vegetables, thus extending the fresh vegetable season.

In each case, make sure that the farmers’ market produce is unblemished. Usually, fruits and vegetables that are not ripe have tougher skins or are less soft, those are the characteristics that are ideal for basement storage. This will extend the storage qualities of the vegetables. If a vegetable has bruised during transport, set it aside for further ripening and consumption. Blemished vegetables emit ethylene and other gases that contribute to the ripening of their neighbors and will reduce the effective storage life for the rest of your stored produce. Make sure that the fruit or vegetable is stored stem side down so it won’t roll, and that make sure no piece touches another. This will allow air movement around each piece of fruit or vegetable, potentially reducing the chance for fungal or other pest transmission. Layers of newspaper on the shelf beneath the vegetables will cushion the vegetables. Finally, the vegetables should be inspected on at least a weekly basis, and those with any signs of ripening should be removed for further ripening and use. To fully ripen fruits or vegetables place them in a bag or on a plate with a piece of ripe fruit for a day or two. Once ripened the fruit or vegetable will be ready to consume, so for best quality don’t store them in a refrigerator.

As a word of caution, apples, cabbages, and onions all produce larger amounts of ethylene gas that can hasten the faster ripening of vegetables. If possible, try to store these fruits and vegetables further away from other fruits and vegetables.

The following is a list of common fruits and vegetables that can be stored on shelving. These vegetables last longer if they are stored under cool conditions, but don’t necessarily require refrigeration. By selecting unblemished vegetables and storing them properly, farm market produce will be available at a frugal price.

-Green tomatoes, Squash (winter varieties like acorn, butternut, and spaghetti), Pumpkins, and Apples

The following is a list of vegetables that should be stored in a net or hung on a hook to allow greatest air circulation. These vegetables preserve best under conditions with low humidity, so hanging them near the ceiling will extend their storage life.

-Onions, Hot Peppers

The following is a list of common vegetables that can be stored in buckets of moist sand or sawdust. These vegetables are best stored closest to the floor where it is cool. Moisture in their storage materials will raise their local humidity and extend their storage life. Vegetable tops should be removed or trimmed to ½ inch before storage.

-Potatoes, Carrots, Beets, Radishes, Parsnips, Turnips

The following is a list of vegetables that can be stored in a box with straw. These vegetables are best stored in lower humidity cooler condition to extend storage life.

-Cabbage, Sweet Potatoes


Harrison, H.C., Storing Vegetables at Home, University of Wisconsin-Extension, 1996.

Hodges, L., Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, NebGuide, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, June 2006.

Lerner B.R. and Dana, M.N., Storing Vegetables and Fruits at Home, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, May 2001.

Trinklein, David H., Vegetable Harvest and Storage, University of Missouri Extension, June 2010.

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