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Curing Vegetables to Improve Shelf-life

Curing Vegetables to Improve Shelf-life
Tricks of our great-grandparents work just as well today

Click here for a PDF print version

Several vegetables benefit from post-harvest curing. Curing heals or minimizes injuries from damage during harvesting. It thickens the skin, reducing moisture loss and affording better protection against insect and microbial invasion. Curing is usually accomplished by subjecting vegetables to an elevated storage temperature and high humidity.  Produce can be cured in a variety of home storage areas.

Temperature and humidity should be matched to the desired conditions in the chart below as accurately as possible.

In some cases, you can modify conditions:

  • A space heater in an enclosed area can provide the needed heat for curing.
  • Humidity can be increased by over-laying containers with sheets of plastic.

Curing Certain Vegetables:
Ideal Temperatures and Humidity Levels for Curing Vegetables

After harvesting, these must be subjected to the heat and humidity specified below for the length of time shown, to cure the vegetable to make it last longer in storage. After curing, they should be stored at the storage temperature indicated in the last column.
Commodity Curing
of Curing
after curing
Irish Potato 60-70 80-90 10-14 days 35-45
Onion 60-80 40-50 3-7 days 32
Pumpkin 80-85 80-90 10 days 55-60
Sweet Potato 80-95 95 10 days 55
Winter Squash (except acorn) 80-85 80-90 7-14 days 55-60




Places around the home that are suitable to cure some vegetables and fruit.

Typically, the attic or garage on hot summer days can be used for curing.  just be careful not to forget the crop and leave them there too long!

A picnic table on a hot day can also work, although you may want shade over it to keep it from getting too hot.

Onions are usually gently lifted from the ground when their tops have fallen over and at least started to brown. Then the onions are left on top of the ground on a hot day or 2.  Do not leave them out longer than a day or 2!

Figure - Areas in a house that could be used for storage.

Chancey places for food curing

Attic; hot, dry to in extra cold weather

very cold, dry

Curing onions,

drying herbs








Canning Books, Supplies and Accessories

These are my favorite essential canning tools, books and supplies. I've been using many of these for over 50 years of canning! The ones below on this page are just the sampling of. my preferred tools. but you can find much more detailed and extensive selections on the pages that are linked below.

The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes Paperback

This is THE book on canning! My grandmother used this book when I was a child.; It tells you in simple instructions how to can almost anything; complete with recipes for jam, jellies, pickles, sauces, canning vegetables, meats, etc.

If it can be canned, this book likely tells you how! Click on the link below for more information and / or to buy (no obligation to buy)The New Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving

Canning and Preserving for Dummies by Karen Ward

This is another popular canning book. Click here for more information, reviews, prices for Canning and Preserving For Dummies

Of course, you do not need to buy ANY canning book as I have about 500 canning, freezing, dehydrating and more recipes all online for free, just see Easy Home Canning Directions.

Home Canning Kits

I have several canners, and my favorite is the stainless steel one at right. It is easy to clean and seems like it will last forever. Mine is 10 years old and looks like new.

The black ones are the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce.

This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, Jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer,  It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. It's only missing the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book.

You will never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! 

The complete list of canners is on these pages:


Pressure Canners

If you plan on canning non-acidic foods and low acid foods that are not pickled - this means: meats, seafood, soups, green beans corn, most vegetables, etc., then you ABSOLUTELY must use a Pressure Canner.

Of course, you can use a pressure canner as a water bath canner as well - just don't seal it up, so it does not pressurize. This means a Pressure Canner is a 2-in-1 device. With it, you can can almost ANYTHING.

There are also other supplies, accessories, tools and more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!

Basic Canning Accessories

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter - to remove lids from the pot of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lids- disposable - you may only use them once
  4. Ring - holds the lids on the jar until after the jars cool - then you remove them, save them and reuse them
  5. Canning Jar funnel - to fill the jars

FREE Illustrated Canning, Freezing, Jam Instructions and Recipes

Don't spend money on books. that you don't need to. Almost everything you can find in some book sold online or in a store is on my website here for free. Start with theEasy Home Canning Directions below. That is a master list of canning directions which are all based upon the Ball Bblue book, the National Center for Home Food Preservation and other reputable lab tested recipes. Almost every recipe I present in addition to being lab tested com. is in a step by step format with photos for each step and complete. explanations. that tell you how to do it, where to get the supplies and pretty much everything you need to know. In addition, there almost always in a PDF format so you can print them out and use them while you cook.

[ Easy Home Canning Directions]

[FAQs - Answers to common questions and problems]

[Recommended books about home canning, jam making, drying and preserving!]

[Free canning publications to download and print]