Natural Cold Storage: Fresh Food in Winter

Be more self-reliant by using natural cold storage and enjoying fresh food in winter.

| December 2004/January 2005

Picture yourself on a frosty Christmas Day serving your own tomatoes or carrots so sweet they’re like candy. And there you are in January, pulling crisp, fresh, raw heads of Chinese cabbage from a box in your cool cellar. Now it’s February, and in one hand, you’re hefting one of those big, rough-looking but fine-grained ‘Long Season’ beets for dinner and, in the other hand, several apples for the lunch box. Fast-forward to March, and you’re returning to the warm kitchen with a fistful of carrots. Even in April? Of course. That’s you proudly adding your own garden-grown potatoes and garlic to the dinner menu. In May, you might even find yourself, as we have, eating homegrown sweet potatoes. If you don’t grow a garden, you can buy carefully grown local vegetables in the fall, when they are at peak condition and prices are low, and store them for winter.

As a gardener or farmer’s market customer, you know how satisfying each season can be — the first luscious pickings of tender spring lettuce, then peas, then tomatoes; the fullness of summer, when our vegetable basket seemingly overflows with abundance; the ripeness of autumn with its bittersweet feelings of completion. Although the long-awaited summer has ended, that tinge of melancholy is tempered by mellow days when we harvest or buy from the local market those last squash, potatoes and beets.

Perhaps you’re ready, then, to add a whole new dimension to your annual calendar of gardening satisfactions: using natural cold storage to keep your homegrown or market-bought food on the table all winter long. This special three-part section, will tell you how to keep last year’s harvest safe and sound, whether it’s outside in more temperate climates, or in a home-built root cellar in colder areas.

The satisfaction you get from keeping fresh produce into the winter months without processing it is rooted in several accomplishments: Maintaining the fine quality of your organically grown food, making your garden more productive and learning a new skill to decrease your dependence on processed food.

You can, by the way, practice root cellaring without actually having a walk-in root cellar. In researching our book, Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables, my husband, Mike, and I found that clever gardeners have worked out a whole range of different storage options, from a drain tile buried in the yard, to straw-insulated above-ground mounds (called ‘clamps’), to storage drawers built into the risers of a cool basement staircase. To us, these ingenious devices, meant to suit a particular situation, are true folk crafts. To our delight, we discovered that some really quirky setups worked quite well.

Once you start root cellaring, you’ll find the advantages are as practical as they are satisfying.

6/30/2017 3:16:38 PM

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6/30/2017 3:16:11 PM

where can one buy this book

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