As a young girl, I was intrigued by root cellars and always wanted one. However, the climate I grew up in wasn’t conducive to a root cellar and so, we went without. It wasn’t until several years ago that I realized cold room storage could preserve food in the same manner.
When we moved to our rental home, my delighted eyes saw our cold room it as nothing more than a suitable place to store my canning, apples, pears, squash, onions and garlic.
This is a photo of that first winter:
Little did I know it was just the beginning!
As I began to see the potential this cold room held, my intrigue for traditional food preservation methods expanded. Soon I was digging out old cookbooks, researching cold storage methods and experimenting with all kinds of foodstuff.
On the Cold Room Shelves
While the cold room doesn’t always hold to steady temperatures, homemade cheese can be cured in this small space. In the corner of our cold room, a small dairy shelf holds waxed cheese wheels.
In a cupboard are jars of rendered fat, jugs of maple syrup, bottles of oil and homemade vinegar, herbs and spices of all kind. Our yearly supply rests in this place.
Home Canned Food
In the heart of autumn, the basement cold room is full of home canned food. Pressure canned meat, broth and veggies line the shelf. Jams, preserves, sauces and golden peaches fill another, neighbored by pickled cucumbers, beans, beets and more.
Though it takes time to make the trek into our basement, keeping home canned food cool helps preserve its quality and vitamins.
Dry Loving Produce
Dry loving produce, such as onions, garlic and squash overwinter well in the cold room, so long are they are properly cured.
These do best when stored on a top shelf where it’s warmer.
Root vegetables and tubers will keep well in the cold room when packed in damp soil. They do well in the coldest part of the room! Most often, we store potatoes, beets, carrots and parsnips in bins for winter eating.
There are a few fruit varieties that preserve well in the cold temperatures of the cold room. Apples and pears are the easiest, therefore the most common. Because pears spoil faster, we spread them on a bottom shelf. Apples are left boxed up, to be picked through at our leisure.
Fermented vegetables, if jarred and sealed, keep beautifully in lower temperatures! Cucumbers, pickled vegetables and kraut varieties will keep for months on the cold room shelf.
While I look forward to the day when we can have an actual root cellar, I’m happy with my cold room until then!