Written by Abby Quillen, Published on Fix.com
Our ancestors built root cellars, underground structures that kept food at a consistently cold temperature year round. Depending on individual needs, it may be worth building a root cellar or another type of food storage system if you don’t have ideal conditions to store winter crops. But before you start digging or building, it’s important to assess whether the chosen dwelling – probably a garage, shed, basement, cellar, or unheated room – already provides the ideal conditions for storing some food.
DIY Storage Systems
For those who are serious about winter food storage but don’t have the ideal conditions to store certain crops, it may be time to build a winter food storage system. Storage systems range from simple in-garden mounds to multi-room root cellars. For all of them, the key is to provide ventilation, monitor the temperature and humidity, and routinely inspect stored crops for spoilage.
- Outdoor Storage Mounds: Depending on your storage needs and location, it’s possible to store small batches of potatoes, onions, leafy greens, or root vegetables in straw and dirt mounds built in the garden or another place with good drainage.
- Outdoor Pits: Another option is to construct a simple root cellar by digging a deep hole, inserting a layer of rocks for drainage, andburying a trash can, a barrel tipped on its side, or a wooden box.
- Insulated Corner of a Basement: If you have a basement, partition off and insulate a corner for fruit and vegetable storage.
- Detached Root Cellar: Building a separate root cellar requires careful design, proper drainage and ventilation, and, depending on location, a permit. But it’s an unbeatable low-tech way to store large quantities of produce year-round.
Winter food storage doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as stocking away some extra onions and squash in a spare room. A little knowledge and attention now will keep fall’s bounty tasting delicious into the coming months.
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