Swedes are a very tasty winter vegetable, they are planted in late spring and harvested in Autumn. Harvesting the swedes is straightforward- the big question is how to store swedes? As winter ends it is important to harvest and store any swedes still in the ground, as they will soon begin to bolt and produce seeds. Once the swedes begin to bolt they become woody and stringy inside.
How to store swedes
Swedes should be stored in a cool environment (around 41 Fahrenheit/ 5 Celsius), they also need to be kept moist or have some way of preventing moisture from evaporating away from them. As moisture escapes this makes them soft, spongy, and wrinkly and the flesh dry inside. They should also be kept out of direct sunlight, again to prevent them from drying out. Have you ever noticed that supermarkets have swedes wrapped individually in clear plastic – this is to prevent too much moisture from being lost from them.
Where to store swedes
A good example of where to store swedes would be in a cellar or basement, which is cold, dark and slightly damp. It is also a good idea if you have somewhere which is cold and dark (like a shed) but it is quite airy and dry, to put the swedes under a cover, to prevent moisture escaping. If you only have a few swedes to store you could cover them with damp sand or straw.
How to store swedes outside
If you don’t have a root cellar or a shed to store your swedes, you can store them outside in a pit. The idea of the pit is the same as the potato pit. Swedes are mounded up on the ground, covered with a layer of straw and then a layer of soil. Storing swedes outside may seem daunting, but it has been done for hundreds of years.
How to make a swede storage pit
- First you should pick a naturally dry area to site your storage pit.
- Then you should lay out 4-6 inches of straw on the bottom and tip your swedes onto the straw – this will protect the bottom from hard frost.
- Next you should ad 4 – 6 inches of straw or rushes on top of the swedes – this will protect the outside of the pit from harsh frost.
- Now add 4 – 6 inches of soil on top of the straw – this forms a good barrier to light and will protect it from birds/ animals.
- Finally dig a small trench 6 inches deep around the pit to stop surface water accumulating around the bottom of the swedes, which will end up rotting them.
How long will swedes last in storage
If you have your swedes in optimal storage conditions as i have mentioned above you can expect them to last for up to 3 months and longer if its during winter months. However, storing them in a shed, pit or a cellar will still be influenced by outside temperatures. Without refrigeration them they will begin to warm up in spring and begin to sprout. If you can control the temperature of you store, then you can prevent them from sprouting for longer.
So there you have it, to successfully store swedes for a long time, you should make sure they are harvested before they bolt in spring, keep temperatures low, store out of direct sun and most importantly keep them in a damp place so they don’t dry out.