[Market-farming] Cooling and storing produce

Bill Bradshaw billbradshaw at hughes.net
Mon Jan 15 09:15:47 EST 2007

Tom, this link has some information. I have the wiring diagram some where 
will try and find it. Bill

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom at Limerock" <limerock at thirdplanet.net>
To: "Market Farming" <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, January 15, 2007 6:35 AM
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] Cooling and storing produce

> Pat  --  How did you 'rewire' your AC unit to be a cooler unit?
> Thanks
> Tom
> Limerock Orchards
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: Home Grown Kansas!
> To: Market Farming
> Sent: Sunday, January 14, 2007 3:38 PM
> Subject: Re: [Market-farming] Cooling and storing produce
> I am writing from Kansas where we are enjoying a relaxing day in the house
> due to cold temperatures and ice rain which we have had all day.  We have
> grown on our urban farm for 15 years.  We grow a variety of greens in the
> spring and fall.  We grow culinary herbs and vegetables as well and sell 
> to
> upscale Wichita restaurants and at two farmers markets - a Saturday 
> morning
> one and a midweek market.  As every farm is different, I imagine each of 
> us
> has a different way of harvesting and storing our produce.   We have a 
> small
> outbuilding (approx 10X12) in which we installed a window air conditioning
> unit which we rewired to be a cooling unit.  We can keep the "cold shed" 
> at
> about 42 - 55 degrees depending on the outdoor temperature.  This is a 
> cost
> effective cooling source - much less than the traditional compressor used
> for a walk in cooler.  I usually harvest 20 - 30 pounds of lettuce  a 
> day -
> harvesting it first thing in the morning while it is cool.  I then wash it
> and spin it dry (manually) and then bag it in vented plastic bags.  The
> vented bags allow for any excess moisture to escape so as not to result in
> soggy greens.  I then keep it in the cold shed until delivery.  I can keep
> it for maybe 3 days if neccessary but try not to store for very long.
> Since okra is most prolific in the hot summer months and the temperature 
> in
> the cold shed can't be maintained at a cool enough temperature, I find 
> that
> my shelf life for the okra in my system is not more than a couple of days.
> When storing summer squash, after washing it I put it in cubed crates 
> (much
> like what galloned milk is delivered in to stores) and then place a 
> plastic
> bag over the crates before putting in the cool shed.  These crates stack
> great and I can get a great deal of produce in the shed.  The plastic bags
> and the moisture on the squash result in beautifully stored produce.  To 
> the
> grower who is trying to hold things over a week I would suggest looking 
> for
> some other outlets for sales.  As I said earlier, we go to a Wed and Sat
> Market.  We harvest for Saturday market on Thurs and Friday.  What we 
> don't
> sell at market, I bring home and store in cooler until Monday.  I then
> harvest for restaurants/health food stores on Monday and can still include
> most of the Sat market leftovers in those orders.  I try to clean my cold
> shed out on Mondays.  What isn't sold is donated to the food bank.  This 
> way
> they get good produce and I don't make the mistake of offering not so 
> fresh
> produce to my customers.  Then, on Tuesday & Wed I harvest for the Wed
> afternoon market.  What is not sold comes to the cold shed.  I harvest
> Thursdays for restaurant orders and can include the Wed market leftovers 
> in
> that.  Should it not be sold, it stores well until Saturday market and is
> sold there (be sure to sell it first so that if you bring home produce 
> from
> Saturday market you are bringing home what will hold over until Mon).  I
> rest on Sunday and start all over again Monday.
> Our cold shed has saved us so much money in lost produce that I would
> suggest that anyone growing more than they can sell the day of harvest
> should invest in some type of cooling unit.  Years ago I tried using large
> ice chests and they were a headache and not at all successful, not to
> mention hard to keep clean.
> We've been enjoying this market farming list.  Hope you can glean 
> something
> from this contribution to use in your food growing endeavors.  Pat
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