Root Cellar

Discussion in 'Food Storage - Canning/Freezing/Butchering/Prep' started by randyt, Oct 6, 2019.

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  1. randyt

    randyt Master Survivalist
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    I've been going to build root cellar. We had ne when I was a kid and stored lots of things in there. Now we use the corner of the basement.

    any thoughts on a root cellar?
     
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  2. Morgan101

    Morgan101 Master Survivalist
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    Why do you want to build a root cellar if you already have a basement? Don't they both serve the same purpose, or do you need that much extra storage?
     
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  3. randyt

    randyt Master Survivalist
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    A root cellar generally has no standby heat coming in to it from lights, ducts, pipe, water heater, chimneys, the floor above.
    A root cellar has a tight door with a mound of dirt over the top, they keep a consistent temperature or somewhat close. I don't think that can be maintained in a basement.
     
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  4. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Legendary Survivalist
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    Do trust me on this one, Homey knows root cellars.

    Y'go down into a root cellar and it is cool, thermally cool. Gotta be the same temp as a cave, like 55 F.

    Dirt floor, dirt wall, dank oftentimes. Taters will sprout and often mold also. My grandma didn't put lids on all jars. Just covered the jams and jellies with a 1/2" to 2/3" of wax -- sealed just fine. Quarts of pickles or tomato paste or beans, they had lids; pulled a vacuum when cooling after the pressure cooker.

    Were there any root cellars beneath houses? Yes, but there was usually no connection between the two. Some people's basements were dirt and cool and had steps and they stored food down there. Way out in the county, you saw less and less of that. Usually a root cellar had a diagonal door; it was on a hill. In the hills of Tennessee, the only flatland is flood-plane which makes for good fields, so they are planted in fields. Build your house there and one day the river's gonna come out its banks and take your house away as if it were a toy. People do that, then they cry, "How could Awlmighty Gawd do this to us?!" "Gawd" wanted you to grow a brain, you inbred idiot!

    Many, many foods can be stored at 55 degree F. People tap off a bit of creek, put canned food (glass jars) in that water, then turn the water back to the creek. Insulin and other meds will keep at 55 degree. Never let insulin freeze. The Cherokee have problems developing type II diabetes because they began eating a European diet which is very bad for them. I've heard that this is true of all tribes.

    Do I need to say to NOT put dried goods down in a cellar. They'll go damp, they'll rot and mold.

    Right now I'm smelling drying tobacco hung up in barns. Rich aroma that. Intoxicating.
     
  5. randyt

    randyt Master Survivalist
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    great place to store apples and apple cider too. eventually that cider turns hard
     
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    1. Old Geezer
      There you go! "That cider's gone to workin', Roy!" Our George Washington had a huge distillery. He cranked out heaven only knows how many barrels of applejack whiskey. Last applejack I tasted wasn't done right at all.
       
      Old Geezer, Oct 7, 2019
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  6. CountryGuy

    CountryGuy Expert Member
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    randyt,
    I've seen photos and vids of "root cellar" rooms done in corners of basements but most of them are insulated ceiling and walls other than walls in contact with the ground and then they also use pipes as ducts to allow warmer air to escape in summer and colder air to enter in winter. Not sure how efficient or consistent they are but you might want to check it out. Some use these as a set up more along the lines of a "lagering" cellar.
     
  7. poltiregist

    poltiregist Master Survivalist
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    I built a small root cellar by burying a plastic forty gallon drum . Potatoes put in it rotted rapidly . I still have the set up but don't use it because things keep better in the house than they do in the drum . I may have built it wrong but just know it didn't work for me .
     
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  8. randyt

    randyt Master Survivalist
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    the plastic drum held in the humidity.
     
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  9. randyt

    randyt Master Survivalist
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    there are "root cellaring" type methods used in the garden. A hole is dug and potatoes and such are put in the hole. Straw is packed around the taters and then a couple bales of hay are put on top.

    back to a root cellar, witloof an be grown in a cellar.
     
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  10. poltiregist

    poltiregist Master Survivalist
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    Humidity was indeed my problem . I left about ten inches of the drum above ground to prevent ground water from rain entering the drum . The fluctuation between the above ground temperature on the above ground part of the drum and the temperature of the underground part of the drum is what I blame on the condensation .
     
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  11. CountryGuy

    CountryGuy Expert Member
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    Another issue with your plastic barrel is that plastic is an insulator. Great in theory but cold/ heat doesn't necessarily like to transmit thru it and as you said it likes to hold moisture since the molecules are impervious to water.

    A factor people need to consider also is your climate/ growing zone. If I dig a hole 2' deep here in PA vs 2' ft deep in TX vs 2' deep in northern AK the ground temp will vary greatly depending on the time of the year. I think you need to be 4-6' down below frost line to hit a constant ground temp So here in PA frost line can run 3-4' in places which means to get to a constant ground temp you need to be 7-10' below ground level. Frost or freeze line also helps shows you about how far you can expect heat to penetrate and impact soil temp. As I think OG said, they used to tunnel down into hills and mounds in order to get soil depth. If you're 2 foot down yeah it's slightly cooler but to get something nearing a steady state probably more like 6-8 and more.
     
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  12. Sourdough

    Sourdough "ALASKAN"
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    I have not read this entire thread.

    The GREAT State of ALASKA (Dept. of Ag.) located outside Palmer, Alaska spent something like 50 years starting about 1935 trying to develop a root cellar design for Alaska. They failed. Over and over they failed. A root cellar needs near perfect moisture-heat-coolness-ventilation-etc.. They have a whole book about that research project.

    The bottomline is you can have one in Alaska, but you need electric to it to control the environment. Which kind'a leaves you figuring, what is the point.
     
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  13. Caribou

    Caribou Expert Member
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    Thanks for that Sourdough. You saved me a bunch of grief.
     
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  14. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Legendary Survivalist
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    Root cellars work in certain temperate climates. They work some places, other places they fail. Such is the lot of entire animal and plant species. Things are as they are.

    The human species is not unlike the piss-ant. Divinity and matters of Mother Nature are infinitely beyond us. We are humble before the Greater Reality or we are utter nothingness. Humility is our badge of honor. I am intelligent enough to know that which I am not. I will attempt this. I will attempt that. I will choose that which works. Such are the limits of my being.
     
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