Wooden garages are good for more than just storing a car. Increasing numbers of people are choosing to take their garage and turn it into a more functional space, using it for many different reasons, sometimes on top of storing a vehicle. With the accessibility of double wide or larger wooden garages, this is a trend that is sure to continue.
One way you can utilize your wooden garage is as a store area, especially for your garden. While tools are one item to store in there, why not also store your excess produce from your garden? A fruitful harvest from a mature garden can yield hundreds of fruits and vegetables per season. The average family can't eat that much, so having somewhere to put it all is crucial.
Here are some things you need to know about storing produce in a wooden garage.
Fruits and Vegetables That Can Be Stored As Is In Your Wooden Garage
Some produce is tougher than others and more resistant to rot. That means it can be kept as is for extended periods of time, though eventually you will need to either eat or prepare them for longer storage.
Root vegetables are one option. This includes potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, ginger root… anything that grows underground. Potatoes, squash and other gourds are also very easy to store. They can last months in dry, cool conditions. While a root cellar is often preferable, you can get the same effect by putting them in a breathable container like a wood crate and covering them with a heavy fabric to keep out light.
Fruits are harder, but apples in particular can last for several weeks in the same way.
Make sure when you are first storing your produce this way that you do a few things first:
- Don't wash your produce. Dirt actually helps to keep it good for longer.
- Watch for any signs of rot or damage. This causes one to decay, which will spread to others in the batch.
- Regularly monitor for signs of rot, bruising or pests and remove them quickly.
- Separate your produce by type. Some produce can cause certain gases that will rot others more quickly. So keep each type of vegetable or fruit in its own container.
- Consider buying a hygrometer. This will measure the humidity in your wooden garage. The higher the humidity, the faster the rot.
Fruits and Vegetables That Can Be Canned and Stored In Your Wooden Garage
For those that aren't so suited for dry storage, there is the option of canning. This is when you pickle or store a fruit of vegetable in a liquid, or make it into other foods like jams or soups. The easiest way to can is using a pressure cooker, which seals the lids of mason jars tightly to keep bacteria from entering the cans as they store and spoiling the food inside.
If you don't have a pressure cooker, it is still possible to seal jars properly. You just need a wire rack and a large pot. Put the rack into the pot, put in the jars with their lids tightly sealed and fill with water until two inches of the jars are submerged. Bring to a boil and let them continue boiling for ten to fifteen minutes. Carefully remove them and place them on a towel, leaving them alone for twenty-four hours. When the jar has an indent in the lid you know it has been sealed.
Once you have canned your produce you can put it on a shelf in your wooden garage. It should be good for up to eighteen months, but make sure you are checking the lids for the indentation before use. No indent means the seal has been broken and it is not safe to eat.
Fruits and Vegetables That Can Be Stored In a Freezer In Your Wooden Garage
Canning not your thing? Your wooden garage is a great place for a freezer, which can be used for a number of different foods. Vegetables and fruit are great to freeze because then they are ready to be grabbed and used for a meal at a moment's notice, no matter how busy you are. Or they can be thawed out for a snack later, thrown into a smoothie… anything you need.
Fruits and veggies maintain their nutritional value just as well when frozen as they do fresh. But to get the most out of them you should freeze them at their peak. Sort out any rotted or bruised produce and wash it thoroughly. Blanching them with salt water will help them maintain their flavor and texture better when thawed. You may also want to store some in a sugar base, such as berries and apples.
Once frozen, produce can last up to eighteen months before it starts to lose its flavor or texture. But fruit in particular is soft enough that it is best eaten before it has fully thawed, which will keep it from losing some of its firmness.
Wooden garages maintain their temperature better than other styles because of the breathability of natural qualities of the lumber. So it is an awesome place to keep a freezer or even two, without it over freezing.
Consider buying Energy Star rated appliances for this purpose, which will save you money on your energy bill and is better for the environment.
Preparing Your Wooden Garage
Some other ways to prepare your wooden garage for storing produce from your garden:
- Make sure it is free of all pests that could threaten your veggies and fruit. Get rid of spiders, mites, flies, rodents, etc.
- Clean every corner. You don't want webs, dirt or dust, so keep your wooden garage nice and scrubbed down.
- Install plenty of shelf space. Shelves are awesome for canned goods. Make sure you have enough shelving to keep your food items separate from your non-food items.
- Look for damage to your garage regularly. Warps in wood, cracks, holes and seal breaks can all lead to problems, including threats to your produce.