The Root Cellar,
of the root cellar is well below the frost line, and even in 90-degree
heat of summer, the floor below ground remains cool enough to see your
The root cellar allowed winter storage of produce from the garden
without processing, preserving or canning.
Ideally, a root cellar could hold food for several months after harvest
time. The cool, moist atmosphere prevented freezing or decomposition of
A root cellar needs to remain between thirty-two and forty degrees
Fahrenheit. Not all kinds of produce are successfully stored under
those conditions. The best candidates are carrots, onions, turnips,
beets and Irish and sweet potatoes.
Fruits and other vegetables include apples, pumpkins, cabbage,
cauliflower and peppers. Parsnips do very well by being left in the
ground in the garden all winter.
Onions are harvested, dried and packed in barrels to avoid freezing and
thawing. Onions and garlic are often braided and hung to dry for
storage in the kitchen.
Sweet potatoes are stored in bulk, after drying on straw and layered
with potatoes and straw. In fact the more layers, the better they keep.
Large cans or covered crocks kept milk, eggs and butter cool until
The root cellar was used by farmers and country folk alike years before
electricity and refrigeration ever reached their farmsteads. It was
really the best way of storing fresh produce at that time without
cooking or preserving. Most farm wives knew these agrarian customs
which were handed down from family to family over the years.
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