How to Preserve Food Without Refrigeration

You can learn how to preserve food without refrigeration by learning the basics of canning, drying, and root cellaring.

| July/August 1971


A root cellar needs to breath, and a ventilator is necessary. It should be 4 to 6 inches square, extend 3 or 4 feet above the dirt that covers the cellar and must have a rain cap. Plug the vent with rags or paper in extremely cold weather.


Believe it or not, it is possible to live without refrigeration. Long before the advent of home coolers and freezers, the problems of food storage and preservation had been solved, but this invaluable knowledge has been largely forgotten by our modern "quick and easy" society. Today, you can learn how to preserve food without refrigeration to save money and have delicious produce all year.

Yes, it certainly is both fast and easy to cram an armload of frozen supermarket food into the freezer or refrigerator. It's become so natural to do exactly that, in fact, that we now often completely overlook the home refrigeration unit's definite limitations.

For instance, it's impossible to store a year's supply of food in a refrigerator or freezer. If you raise all or most of what your family eats, then refrigeration is definitely not a practical means of preservation.

And did you realize that food frozen or refrigerated for longer than three months loses both its flavor and appearance and the greater portion of its nutritional value? Some edibles become positively revolting when frozen overlong.

Consider, also, what happens to a big freezer of frozen food during a major, lengthy power failure. It only takes about two days without electricity to turn a marvelous store of frozen victuals into a sodden, rotting mess.

There's a money angle to consider too. Operating expenses for a home refrigerating unit are nominal — probably not more than a couple of dollars a month — but that is still bread you could use elsewhere (like for a subscription to MOTHER). And think of all the nice, useful things you could buy with the money you'd get if you sold your refrigerator or freezer. Or — if the unit is too old or useless to sell — you can still make money with it by turning it on its back, filling it with dirt and table scraps and sprinkling in a handful of fat earthworms. Within a year, you'll be able to sell livestock from this worm farm to all the fishermen and organic gardeners in your neighborhood!

9/6/2017 3:18:21 PM

Love the article but can't see the chart. Could someone email it to me please, thank you!

9/6/2017 3:18:20 PM

Love the article but unable to read the chart or find it anywhere else online. Can you email it to me please, thank you!

8/4/2016 6:11:42 AM

My husband and I love to read your posts whenever we have a chance. They are informative and thorough. I liked your insights on food preservation. I myself have written a similar article on the topic. I would much appreciate your perspectives on that if your situation allows you to take a look at that. Best regards.

1/16/2016 11:08:47 AM

One thing to consider: pests. Three years ago my home became infested with pharaoh ants. The problem only became apparent after they found our pantry. These ants found a plentiful source of food in our root cellar and it took a long time to control the situation as they have a strong defence mechanism. I'm amazed we didn't even notice them due to their tiny size and they flourished under our noses!

4/4/2015 12:01:57 PM

I love to Garden But still learning.

10/1/2014 9:40:16 AM

Vegetable storage. Most veggies are less susceptible to degradation by ethylene gas than fruits but not all. Broccoli, kale,lettuce and leafy greens will go bad fast if you allow ethylene to build up in your fridge or store. You need to remove it without any harmful chemicals. For further information and how too videos go to

7/6/2009 10:16:13 PM

I read the story about preserving food without refrigation I wanted to know why nothing was put in about the zodaic signs. I live in western North Carolina and I was raised canning by the zodaic signs. I have search the enternet over and I cannot find anything about this. I teach a canning class at my church and I am trying to find something more than I know, because I know there is more out there than I have found. If anyone has any information on this please let me know, before this part of my mountain heritage. I would like to pass this down to other people and my children. Believe it or not this does make a differance in your canning and in gardening Thank You and God Bless Jackie

dave heath
3/7/2009 10:54:00 AM

My daughter did her science fair this year on "Preservation without Refrigeration". She compared Rubbermaid plastic containers, Glad Fold Top bags, Ziploc vacuum bags, and Debbie Meyer Green Bags. She cut apples in half and placed one in each. She had one left out at room temperature on a plate and one left in the fridge on a plate. Anyway, she won first place in the science fair and goes to the Arizona State Science Fair in two weeks! She got the idea from this website and we just wanted to say thank you!

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