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Root Cellars: Store Fresh Food with no Electricity

Root cellars are making a comeback!

Having fresh food without electricity has great advantages for those interested in food security. We’ve had so many power outages where we live (the electricity lines going through forest trees) that having food on hand that isn’t dependent on electricity is a major bonus. Although I’m trying to grow food year-round and have awesome fall and winter gardening (even with our Canadian winters & snow!) there is a point that the snow becomes too deep and crops are harvested and stored in root cellars.

Root Cellars for Winter Food Storage

What is a Root Cellar?

Root cellars have been used for thousands of years and were essential before the times of refrigeration. Root cellars use properties of the earth to keep many crops cool like carrots, potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, cabbages & other crops cool and fresh during the winter months.

A root cellar may be buried under the ground, in a basement corner or even made with garbage bins. Temperature, humidity, ventilation are all important aspects of a proper root cellar to prevent spoilage:

  • Root cellar temperature of 32ºF/0C to  40º F/4.4C and a humidity level of 85 to 95 percent.
  • The cooler temperatures slows the release of ethylene gas and stops the grow of microorganisms that make your produce decompose.
  • Ventilation is needed to
  • The humidity level prevents loss of moisture through evaporation—and the withering looks that go along with it.

Root Cellar Design

Make this root cellar by burying a new concrete septic tank into a hillside. See the root cellar plans from Mother Earth News

Root Cellar plans

A Basement Root Cellar from Mother Earth News

Basement root cellar

More root cellar designs from Custommade

How to make a Root Cellar made with garbage can

How to build a basement root cellar Root Cellar in the ground


What Crops can you Store?

Cold and Damp Storage: Store these at 32 to 40 F (0-4.5C) with 90-95 percent humidity.

  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Leeks
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Rutabagas
  • Turnips
  • Winter Radishes

Cool and Dry Storage: Store these varieties at 50-60F (10-15C) with 60-70 percent humidity.

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes

Custommade has great infographics on what crops to store & how

How to store crops in a root cellar

Crops for root cellar storage


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