The big food storage question if you do not have a traditional root cellar is How to make a root cellar? A root cellar doesn’t have to be a huge constructed concrete bunker in the ground. A root cellar can be a dark cool place under the deck on the shady side of the house or on a north side of a crawl space. An apartment root cellar can be in a cabinet along a cold wall. No matter where you live, you can make your own root cellar.
In the interest of food preservation from your own garden, it is good to know how to make a root cellar. A root cellar should be cool and dark in order to preserve fruits and vegetables for winter or
emergency. Root cellars were used before refrigeration was invented. If you do not have a garden, a farmer’s market is a
great way to get in season produce to can and store in a root cellar.
How To Make A Root Cellar In The Yard
How to make a root cellar in the yard, a clean garbage can works well buried in the yard for a root cellar. Dig a hole almost a foot deeper than the garbage can is tall. Make sure to dig the hole big enough around that the can will easily fit down in the hole. Drill a
few holes in the bottom of the garbage can before inserting it in the hole to release moisture. If you do not have a drill, you can pour some coarse gravel or flower bed rocks in the bottom of the garbage can. The holes work much better to get rid of moisture.
Then make layers of vegetables with straw in between the layers. Leave about 5 inches of room above the top layer of vegetables and fill that with straw. Put the lid on top and then fill the space between the lid and the top of the ground with straw. At this point you can put boards over the top of the insulation or even a tarp secured to the ground over the top.
The cold and damp garbage can homemade root cellar is ideal for
beets, potatoes, carrots, turnips and parsnips all of which like cold and damp storage. Vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash like it warmer and dry. Onions and garlic like a cold and dry storage area.
How To Make A Root Cellar – Improvise
If you do not have the space to build a root cellar or do not already have a root cellar, you can improvise. Part of a basement can be walled off and insulated or a basement window well. All you need is a window for ventilation. A dehumidifier may be necessary. The temperature should never drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Search for cold spots in your house to use if you do not have a basement. Maybe a room that is seldom used on the north side of the house, part of the garage (away from the cars), a closet, a storage unit, crawl space or an enclosed porch will all work for a makeshift root cellar.
How To Store Food In A Root Cellar
Some fruit such as apples and pears can also be stored in a root cellar. These fruits like cold and dry storage area. Apples should be individually wrapped in newspaper or paper sacks and stored in a basket or crate. Pears also like to be individually wrapped but in well ventilated plastic bags and stored in a crate. Fruit should be periodically checked to make sure that it is not going bad. Of course storage in a root cellar also depends on the harvest time of the fruits and vegetables being stored.
Your root cellar should also include storage shelves for canned food, hanging fabric or mesh bags for onions and garlic and bushel baskets or crates for potatoes. Carrots and beets can be stored packed in damp sand or wood shavings in a bucket.
Tips For Storing Food In A Root Cellar
Use these tips for storing food in the root cellar that you just made. Do not wash the vegetables before storing them, leave some of the garden dirt on them. This helps in the preservation.
Root cellars are not just good for vegetables and canned goods, you can also store dried beans, dehydrated fruits and dehydrated vegetables, rice, nuts and cooking oil in airtight containers. A root
cellar is also useful as a storm shelter and to store water in airtight
containers. Water should be rotated out every few months. See our
emergency basics page for more information.