I walk into its darkness. Coolness wraps around my skin, causing me to shiver. Light faintly seeps through the large window pane as the wooden deck above attempts to block all rays. I can just make out the heavy screen my man secured to keep rodents out!
I love this room, painted white with outer cinder-block walls! Wide, white shelving runs the length of the left wall and the contents sitting upon it are the cause of my favoritism. Reaching out, I flick on the electric light. Out of the darkness appears jars of home-canned goods: fruits, syrups, juices, jams and sauces, tomatoes, salsa, meats, broth and pickles. Spread among the jars are winter squash, dried herbs, raw bottled vinegar, onions and garlic, beeswax coated cheese waiting to ripen.
But today, I’m here for something else, something I enjoy even more than any of the above!
As I reach out to select one jar among many, my mouth begins to water-as it does with anything pickled! This time, its the raw, fermented vegetables; still firm, crunchy, tangy kraut of all kinds! I select my favorite, made with cabbage and carrots. Beside it, the deep purple-red of another ferment catches my eye. I stop to admire.
Then, I return to the world of warmth. Tightly clutching the 1/2 gallon jar in one hand, my woolen-clad feet patter back up the faded blue of the wooden, squeaky stair steps, ready to munch down on my salad with the addition of fermented goodness…soon as I could get the lid off the jar!
This little room is found in the corner of our basement, the two exterior walls being made of cinder-block. There is no heat supply to it and the floor is concrete. In the exterior walls are two windows for controlling temperatures and humidity levels. The #1 draw for me? Raw food storage after Jack Frost has claimed his territory!
While I enjoy canning for the winter months, I began to recognize my need for unprocessed food. My battle for nutrition is real! Winters are hard on humans, particularly those of us who battle chronic illnesses. In my quest for wholesome food I began delving into methods that would enable us to overwinter home-grown vegetables from our gardens. It soon became apparent that both fermenting and raw vegetable storage were the best option. Yes, we planted the gardens accordingly.
How Does it Work?
Our winters hold to almost perfect temperatures for cold storage, ranging anywhere from -15C to 5C (5F-41F). These are ideal! I monitor the room’s temperatures by widening or lessening the crack in the window. Shucks, I don’t even have a thermostat down there! If it feels frigidly cold and the canned goods aren’t freezing, its perfect!
The necessary components for a basement cold room are listed below:
- a corner room in the basement: two of the four walls should be exterior
- it ought to be free from the home’s heat source
- room should contain at least 1 window for ventilation & temp control
- windows should be covered with heavy screen to keep rodents out (rats can chew through normal screens!)
- a dense covering for window to keep out light
- a mold free environment: if your basement has flooding issues only store sealed goods down there
- solid shelving for storage-nothing is worse than a crashing shelf-full of summer’s labor
- proper outdoor temperatures (as outlined above)
A storage room doesn’t have to be large. You can fit lots in an 6×8 ft room! They are easily added in many an unfinished basement (who knew you had a good thing going in that regard?)! If adding in a new room, it is wise in insulate the interior walls to keep the cold in.
If cold storage has piqued your interest, jump on board. I’m relatively new to it myself and would love your input, ideas, to hear of victories and what I call “learning curves.”
Join me on the venture!