Root Cellars - Knowledgebase Question

Cumberland, RI
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Question by zeine
February 21, 1998
What information do you have on food storage in root cellars
in the northeast?

Answer from NGA
February 21, 1998
There are whole books written on the subject--but in a nutshell:

Harvest foods at their optimum maturity; precool the crops to remove "field heat", or harvest first thing in the morning.

In the book "The New Putting Food By", the author quotes Samual Ogden, of Vermont, "warns the newcomer to cold-climate root cellaring to avoid three things: 1) counting too heavily on cold storage, 2) having too much diversity and 3) having the food inaccessible in bad weather." He recommends reading "Living the Good Life", by Helen and Scott Nearing for details about their northeast root cellaring experiences.

Basically, root cellaring can be done in a cool basement, a special room in the basement, a bulkhead, a dry shed, an attic, etc.--any place you can modify to control air flow, temperature, and humidity.

Although the idea of root cellaring seems simple, in reality it takes quite a bit of effort and planning to be successful. Each vegetable or fruit has specific storage requirements, and some things can't be stored near each other. But if you want to give it a try, I recommend you try to find a good reference book. Storey Publishing has both a short-form bulletin "Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables" and a book "Root Cellaring". Give them a call at 800/451-3522 for details. Good luck!

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