The Difference Between Cold Rooms and Root Cellars

When most of us think about cold storage, we think of the real-deal, partially underground, old fashioned root cellar with a dirt floor, potatoes piled in the corners, kraut fermenting in large crocks and vegetables stored in moist soil.

It’s a cool, dark place with good ventilation, perhaps wet sawdust on the floor or water buckets for humidity. All this accompanied by a wonderful, earthy odor!

Have you ever heard of a cold room in the basement of a home? How does that work? Are techniques the same?


The Difference

When it comes to cold rooms (whether basement, porch or outdoor shed), its not wise to emulate the same techniques used in a root cellar.

Root cellars should be cold and humid. They are highly suitable for produce that needs moisture. Basement cold rooms must be kept semi-dry (particularly those with poor ventilation) and are best suited for produce that needs a dry environment.

If using a corner in your basement, you can’t get the same storage life from moisture loving vegetables! Unless you have a 100% concrete room, extra humidity can cause mold issues and no one wants that happening in their home!

But never fear! There are some great bonuses to a dry storage room. While you may not be able to keep your produce as long, nicely moistened dirt can still do wonders and see you through the winter season!

Positives to Cold Room Storage

Bonus #1: while you can’t always store squash, onions and garlic in a moist root cellar, they preserve wonderfully in a dry-environment cold room

onions for dry storage


Bonus #2: You won’t have to travel for to get your home canned goods! Keeping them in a dark, cold room will help preserve their nutritional content.



Bonus #3: just like the root cellar, you can overwinter fermented food in the cold room and its usually more convenient to access.


Bonus #4: though the cold room often gives root vegetables a shorter lifespan, it can hold more diversity than a root cellar in the coldest months of the year.

Want to learn more? Carry on to read: How to Successfully Overwinter Produce in the Cold Room