Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Box clever with your fruit

By Justin Newcombe

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Justin Newcombe shows how to create containers that will keep your produce fresh through into winter.

Justin's boxes promote air circulation, which will keep the apples in good shape for longer. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Justin's boxes promote air circulation, which will keep the apples in good shape for longer. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Getting the best out of your apples has long been an important part of growing them. Making apples last through a long winter has dictated many of the traits bred into heirloom apples and these are the varieties which will have the best keeping qualities.

Storing apples depends a lot on your climate. In colder climates such as Britain and northern Europe apples have been traditionally wrapped in paper, stored in boxes and covered in sawdust, then put in a cool place like a cellar or winter attic.

Because I live in such a humid climate without much in the way of cold weather, I need to focus more on creating air circulation around my apples. Apples piled into the fruit bowl on the kitchen table are a good thing because they encourage us to pick up some fruit when we are hungry, but this kind of storage is poor if we are looking to keep an apple any longer than a week.

Apples (and many other fruits and veges) need to be separated from other pieces of fruit, and also need good air circulation from underneath. If you combine this with a cool dark space you can save your apples for some months into the winter. Apples "age" and change with this kind of storage and tend to lose some of their crispness. However, stored apples develop a sweeter mulled texture which makes them delicious winter eating.

The box I've made here is stackable and easy to build and can be used for a variety of produce.

Step 1

Cut out the four sides of your box using a mitre saw.

Step 2

On the two longest sides glue and pin two thin rails to attach the batons to.

Step 3

Place the box pieces end on end with the outside of the box facing up and tape together with masking tape or clear sticky tape.

Step 4

Flip the box over, check that all the pieces line up perfectly and glue the mitre cuts with a good wood glue.

Step 5

Pull the box together and tape to hold firm. Wipe off any excess glue.

Step 6

Use a set square to check the box is plumb, then tape the box diagonally to form a cross.

I've pinned the corners on my box. If you do this I recommend using a small hammer, it really saves your fingers. If you leave the box to dry overnight the glue should be enough to hold it together.

Step 7

Glue two batons underneath the box that sit proud of the bottom. These will slot into the box below holding them in place when they're stacked.

Step 8

Drill finger holes in opposite sides of the box to make lifting it off the stack easier.

Step 9

Attach the batons. I used the thinnest batons possible to encourage air circulation, and glued them into place.

- NZ Herald

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