Summary: Use the earth's naturally cool, stable temperature as an energy-saving way to store nearly 100 varieties of perishable fruits and vegetables all year long. Root Cellaring explains how to successfully use this natural storage approach. It's the first book devoted entirely to the subject, and it covers the subject with a thoroughness that makes it the only book you'll ever need on root cellaring.
Root Cellaring will tell you:
How to choose vegetable and fruit varieties that will store best
Specific individual storage requirements for nearly 100 home garden crops
How to use root cellars in the country, in the city, and in any environment
How to build root cellars, indoors and out, big and small, plain and fancy
Case histories — reports on the root cellaring techniques and experiences of many households all over North America
Root cellaring need not be strictly a country concept. Though it's often thought of as an adjunct to a large garden, a root cellar can in fact considerably stretch the resources of a small garden, making it easy to grow late succession crops for storage instead of many rows for canning and freezing. Best of all, root cellars can easily fit anywhere. Not everyone can live in the country, but everyone can benefit from natural cold storage.
If you ever considered storing vegetables and fruits, this book is worth having. That said, it is sort of a limited topic, so those without such an interest would have no reason to buy it. I liked that they took the time to really cover the topic well. They didn't jump at the fancy large constructs and ignore the smaller options, instead giving a good bit of guidance on all of the options.
Among the useful tidbits in the book, several struck me as particularly helpful. They included a list of what vegetables/fruits were stored during what periods. There was a list of varieties best suited to storage (which eventually led me to a radish that my wife absolutely loves). There was even a guide on how much an average family would need to set back for a year. Granted it would need tweaked for your own family, but it gives an amazing insight into the volume of produce that might be right for you.
A lot of the book was dedicated to understanding the right way to store things, which is probably more helpful than the cellar designs in the long run. The fact that they included information about how to work with existing structures was also a nice touch. Overall, this book is a great one to have. Even though I have spent the last few years without any hope of a root cellar, I have still found the information invaluable. I know how best to store the windfalls I am blessed with so that they last far longer than they otherwise might. Recently with a bushel of apples and just a few weeks ago with about a dozen 20-40lb squash.
If you are at all considering long term storage that doesn't require taking the time and effort of canning or the building of a quality dehydrator, pick the book up. Some of the designs are low cost and low effort. Even if you never build a single one, there is still useful information to be gathered here.
I give this book 10 out 10 acorns. An obscure classic, it is incredibly informative. When we built the root cellar at our school I used some of the ideas from this. I've copied and printed out the chart of which vegetables need which kind of storage, and hand it out to anyone who is interested.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
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