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Storing the brassica harvest?

Posted by sunnibel7 Md 7 (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 23, 13 at 13:30

This year I finally (finally!) had a successful fall garden. Since I have had no joy in that regard for many previous years I waaaaay over-planted. So now I find that I don't know much about keeping these things: which will hold in the field and for how long, which will hold in the fridge, and how long, and which might be best blanched and frozen or otherwise preserved (kimchi and kraut come to mind). I think some of what I am asking has been covered in the thread on how much freezing brassicas can take, but feel free to repeat it here, I'm likely to clip this post so I can find it fast in the next few days.

Anyhow the crops I have are cabbage, kale, collards, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and chinese cabbage. I have had some success with certain of these in previous years, I just never had so much that I needed to prioritize which gets eaten/harvested first. I mean, a single head of broccoli from today is 3 lbs, plus a 3.75 lb head of cabbage... There are only two of us!

Another, non-brassica crop is my potatoes. Usually I get spring planted ones in summer, but this year I also have some summer-planted ones that are good sized plants, do I let them get hit by frost before I dig or is that a bad idea? Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

Most brassicas have a short life in the field once reaching maturity. Broccoli freezes well,and is an excellent method of preserving for future use. Cauliflower can be frozen for cooked dishes. The rest can be preserved in the freezer. They take up a lot of space for a low value crop but all cooked greens are ok frozen. The greens types tend to continuosly produce until the ground freezes. In the olden days fall cabbage was stored in root cellars. rarely today as it is more work than the value of the cabbage. In general everything you find in the frozen food section of your local grocery store can be frozen. The greens can also be canned, but again more work than it is worth.
The potatoes would need to dug soon after the killing frost. They will keep in the ground for awhile, but rot,voles, and off flavors are the chance you take.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

Sprout plants can be uprooted and hung upside down in a cold shed. They'll keep for several weeks that way and you just pick off sprouts as you need them. But they'll also stand quite a bit of cold in situ as will kale and collards. Maybe with a some fleece over them. I hate frozen vegetables and I would much prefer to eat cold stored cabbage than frozen.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

I don't like the eating quality of frozen stuff, at all. Maybe I do it wrong. So now we are glutting on broccoli; kale we eat later until the leaves are ruined by multiple hard freezes, around here in z7a that is often not til late january. Then the resprouted kale starts in mid-march so it's not that long of a gap. Which is what kraut is for.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

Thanks, guys (and gals)! I have frozen some of the broccoli, put the cabbage in the fridge, hopefully it will last a while, and am leaving the kale, collards, and sprouts out for now. I need to clear some room in the freezer before anything else goes in. I suspect some good snacks for the chickens are in the offing. I wonder why storing cabbage in a root cellar is more work? I guess a head of cabbage won't hold in the field until hard freezes? I'm not sure about the chinese cabbage, maybe a gallon of kimchi. We did indeed get our first frost last night despite multiple weather stations swearing there was no danger of frost.

A seperate, related question for anyone still reading this thread, do you notice a difference in flavor between the different broccoli cultivars? I have Packman and Premium Crop, and I think the PC tastes better, but maybe that is just because it is a bit later. Cheers!


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 10:03

Cabbage under leaves lasts the winter, long after cardoon disintegrates. So do kale and collard in a hoop house. Presumably napa is the same as cabbage, though I never grew enough of it to preserve. I would not use all that fridge space. Pick the whole cabbage plants, with some root and dirt, then place it under leaves or in totes with moist sand at the bottom in the unheated garage. Do the same for napa, at least some plants, and see how long they hold out.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

Here's the beginning of a gallon of Kimchi, which used half of one of the heads of napa.this is my first try at posting from my phone, we'll see how it turns out...


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

Tight cabbage heads are fine after many hard freezes. I often go out to the fields in late january and glean what the CSA pickers have bypassed. Pull off the outer few layers of leaves and the inner part is fine.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 19:19

... in fact they (the January cabbages) are best at that point, sweet and delicate, although there is a lot of waste in outer leaves.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

My broccoli is in the freezer, and I've been fermenting "raw slaw" for a couple of weeks. It's cabbage, radishes, carrots, garlic, ginger, onions and peppers in moderate salt solution (2 T salt per qt water), with a bit of apple or pear to get the fermentation to start fast. It's ready to refrigerate in three days (packed with fresh brine) and lasts for months.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

Just a thought.

For those of us who nature has been very kind to, excess produce could be given to your local foodbank or homeless shelter.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

Thanks everyone for all the additional information! I panicked and cut all my cabbages except the one in the hoophouse before I read the comments about letting them sit in the field. That's ok, as I start to plan what to do with which, it seems broccoli is my difficult child there. I like it the best, have way too much, and it takes up a lot of room in the freezer, but won't hold as long in the fridge as the cabbages. So I'll set some aside for us then play broccoli fairy to the neighbors. Many of them are elderly or otherwise housebound so a visit and some free, healthy veg is usually welcome.

I may make some kraut, but more likely will eventually saute or soup all the cabbage for freezing. We really like cabbage sauteed with butter and a little bit of apple and onion. Mmmmm. Chinese cabbage, well, really kimchi is what we like best, but I can't imagine more than a gallon being used too soon. It's funny, I noticed a couple of comments about cabbage as a " cheap" veg, and all I could think was "but this is MY cabbage, first one ever to succeed! It is worth all the space it takes up in the fridge!" To be honest our fridge often has room except in the crisper drawers and the door. One has all the vegetables and the other all the condiments.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

Important point, Wolverine. Only my local food bank is temporarily overstocked with lettuce and understocked with peanut butter. Thanks for the reminder to share.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

I've hunted up types of cabbage and kale that last all winter in my zone (5b). Wirosa Savoy cabbage, winterbor kale and beedy's camden kale have all gone through our cold (often single digits) winters with only one layer of Agricultural fleece #19 (from Johnny's). Even my chard is still fine under the fleece, and I went cross country skiing yesterday (2 days of snow.) So, for your *next* successful fall garden, if you want to eat fresh all winter . . . . just an idea.

Definitely leave the brussels sprouts out for a few hard freezes, and they'll taste even better.

Yes, I notice a huge difference in the flavor of different broccoli cultivars. I love your broccoli fairy idea :)


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

Yes, for my next successful fall garden I'm thinking more cabbages, fewer broccolis (since I can now get enough to feed an army from fewer plants), the same kale and collards and chinese cabbage. Also more potatoes. I really like new potatoes in summer, but having some this time of year is extra special and I seem to crave them more!

Only some of my neighbors were excited to see the broccoli fairy, others have not returned my calls, alas. :) We aren't all President Bush (Sr), I guess.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

Planatus, do you have measurements for the "raw slaw" you talk about in the previous post? I assume it sits out on the counter for the 3 days then to the fridge with the new brine? I would be interested in a more detailed recipe if you have a moment to share.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

You can dig a hole in the yard somewhere, big enough for your harvest (about 2 feet or so deep) line with some dry leaves and store your brassica in there. Make a sort of roof for it. It is like natural root cellar. Make sure no run off water gets in there. Thats all.


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

Sunnibel: All brassicas will store in the freezer after a blanch and shock but I don't do this to the leafy ones anymore... kale, collards, cabbages. They just end up being a big mushy piece of ice. So, I use those fresh. Best way to get around that is to start a few of each early on, and then start a few more about a month later. Broccoli and cauli, on the other hand, freezes rather well.

Btw, cauli is great in escabeche with carrots and hot peppers.

Kevin


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RE: Storing the brassica harvest?

Well, if you still have some after playing broccoli fairy, you might want to make some broccoli soup and freeze flat in a freezer bag (I use a foodsaver). This is a freezer space saver I do with all my soups, stews, chili. Then I just pull out a slab-o-soup.Each slab-o is less than an inch, so they stack nicely in the freezer. Nancy


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