Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Mouldy Squash

I hate food waste, that's one of the reasons I'm trying to be more organised with our food storage (the other being I'm tight). So I was a little annoyed the other day when I could see some our our squash harvest going bad.
It happens so quick and before you know it the mould has spread.
Squash normally keep really well, but they need the right environment to keep for a long time. Normally we store them in a box in the dining room, and we find that at room temperature they keep well into May and last year we even had them store into August.
Where mouldy squashes have touched, I'll have to use these fairly soon or they'll go off as well.
 Last seasons crop was so big that we didn't have the space to keep them all in the dinning room, so I stored some in the shed and workshop. The conditions in there are much colder and we're beginning to see the affects from that. Some squash are starting to go mouldy and because I've got them packed in tight together (which I know I shouldn't, be needs must) this mould spreads really fast. The other day I chucked out half a dozen squash and a large one went to the chickens (it was on the turn but they didn't complain). 
Wasted food - only good for the compost bin now.
It goes to show the importance of good food storage and the importance of checking your stored food. I knew I'd have problems storing them where I had them but I had no other choice. My long term plan is to build a "food storage shed" built out of block with different areas to store the different produce that I grow; there's no point in growing it if you can't use it before it goes off. The shed will ideally be thermostatically controlled and heavily insulated with adjustable ventilation and completely rodent proof - I'm hoping to start building it this year so watch this space!

I think that food storage is one of the key points on the road to self sufficiency. In the past how good you were at it would have directly dictated your families future, especially at this time of year when you'd see your food reserves start to diminish. 
Anyone else lost food this season due to poor storage? Time for some confessions!

22 comments:

  1. I wonder if you harvested them too soon. They need to be 'hardened-off' a bit, with the stem hard and dry, before taking indoors. I only have Butternuts in storage, and they are all OK.

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  2. the few squash I have seem to be ok, you could look at canning and dehydrating for storing gluts of harvest that is the route i am going down. sorry you have lost some of your harvest.

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    1. Never heard of dehydrated squash, I wonder what it would be like to use? Might be worth a go.

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  3. No they were ready. The ones in the house have kept fine. Just too cold for them in the shed I think, we've had a few nights below freezing so that is what has probably done it.

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    1. This was the reply to Cro's comment!

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  4. A friend of mine always stores her spare apples in the attic but she lost the lot one year due to them touching. Good luck for next year and your construction. We haven't got room to grow them so no trouble with storing:)

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    1. The one's I grew this year climb really well so maybe you could grow them vertically?

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  5. No problems with storing our glut of squash because the squash harvest was used to feed our mum pig and her seven piglets!

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    1. Not sure they'd get into some of these the shells are so hard! I need to get an axe to them to get into them!

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  6. Mine went mouldy right on the vine.

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    1. That's a shame. I had a couple go bad like that but I think bugs had got to them first.

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  7. You're right I imagine storing the food would be the biggest problem we all face. Especially when we no longer have complete on demand climate control at our finger tips.

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    1. Storing food is key to self sufficiency. no good growing it if you can't keep it. I'm getting better but still making mistakes, hopefully keep learning until I get it right!

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  8. well, a mouse got in and ate my seeds I had stored away, but they were old anyway.

    I've lost powdered milk and corn meal because they were stored in Mylar bags, flushed with nitrogen, but when I opened them I didn't use the food fast enough and it spoiled.

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    1. Mice are a bloody sod! If I get around to building my shed I'm going to build it mouse proof somehow! I keep my seeds in the house at the moment but it's probably too warm for them really.
      As for using things before they go off, I made a stew once with some suet we had stored. I wrecked the stew and I could taste the rancid beef fat for days!

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  9. Our harvest is up the stairs!!
    But consider making soup bases with what's left of them...
    this can be put hot into warm bottles and oven sterilized...
    caps loose...
    for twenty minutes at 120 degrees Centipede....
    screw lids tight on removing from oven.
    Keeps for three years!
    Only discovered that from one that was at the back of the shelf...
    hidden behind pumpkin marmalade.
    Remember also that many squash do not keep...
    even on the stairs, our Sweet Dumpling are fully ripe and our chickens have disposed of a couple that couldn't be saved.
    The Red Kuri are also short keepers...
    but the butternuts [Harrier and Hunter] keep just fine...
    as do our Gold Nugget...
    destined for HF-W's Pumpkin, cream and Emmental soup.
    But the longest keeper is by far...
    Crown Prince....
    has kept until the following harvest!!
    [Only because we had too many to use!]...
    my wife makes the most wonderful conserve...
    Pumpkin Conserve with Butter...
    using Crown Prince.
    She has blogged about it on De la Bonne Bouffe...
    her food related blog... along with the recipe!
    I just do the heavy landscaping and eat the resulting harvest!!

    We got two books, that we find invaluable, from the Organic Gardening Catalogue....
    Keeping Food Fresh
    &
    Root Cellaring....
    both very useful...
    even though we haven't a root cellar... yet!

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    1. What a amazing comment thanks! I'll be looking into some of those varieties. I think crown prince is also the best tasting squash as well. I'll look into those two books and maybe add them to my birthday list! I'll check out your wife's blog as well.
      Thanks again
      Kev

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  10. I read somewhere, can't remember where, that if you want to keep squash better, wipe them over with a mild bleach solution before storing them, stops any mould starting.

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    1. There was a comment on here a while ago about in how when they did that it also meant that they checked them all over and could use any that were starting to turn.

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  11. You know, since we got the pigs I now look at food storage losses as pig food. It takes the bite out of the disappointment, plus makes the pigs happy. :)

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    1. Yeah, the chickens have them here but there's other food they could be eating. It does reduce waste. I guess even when it goes into the compost heap it's still staying in the circle so I shouldn't feel too bad!

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  12. just to say as a previous comment said, my crown prince keep going for ages, the skin gets tough and hard to cut into but they are fab inside, my favourite so far i think.

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