The Root Cellar

No, this is not a hobbit’s house. About 50 years ago this small excavation in the side of a hill was used as a root cellar.dscn6798

Before the days of refrigeration, potatoes and other root crops like carrots, squashes, beets, and turnips could be stored in this underground bunker. The earth was shored up with wooden beams and possibly shelving could be put in, and then this place could function as a natural cooler for vegetables. A door  kept  larger animals out, and a pipe in the top provided an air vent so the vegetables (and the odd mouse) could breathe.dscn6799People of that era would probably have to make a trek to the root cellar before preparing the evening meal. Let’s hope they were braver than I am about encountering spiders.

31 thoughts on “The Root Cellar

    • I’m sure they are exactly what you need when you need to store vegetables in a cool but not frozen place and you have no electricity and can’t just run down to the store to buy things a few at a time.

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  1. Mom has told me stories of her sister, Aunt Effie, sending her to the root cellar for supplies. They seemed to manage quite well without a refrigerator and an automatic ice machine. Pretty sure I would be totally lost without ours.

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  2. The potatoes for my chips-wagon kept really good, winter, like summer. We also had light down there and it was dry. I also stored all the canned food and never lost one of them – it was just outstanding and I liked to go down there )especially when it was hot/cold outside. It was a good wine cellar as well! ¨LOL

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  3. Today I would be scared a crazy person was lurking inside! But there is something so “earthy” about this. As though the food is resting in the earth itself. I had a root cellar in Michigan, but it was a big cubbyhole on the side of my basement.

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  4. We had a cellar under the little porch of our farmhouse. I loved going down there – it was an adventure – but my mom hated it because of the mice. There were bins with potatoes and carrots and a few shelves with mom’s canned goods. She canned all the vegetables and even chicken. The best were the bottles of home made root beer. The root cellar in your picture could also have been an early home. My mom said that when she was a kid they lived in a “home” built into the earth and that clumps of sod often fell on their heads.

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    • I’ve heard that people who came out here to work and arrived too late in the year to build something often dug out a hollow in a hillside and that’s where they lived until spring. Can’t imagine the stamina it must have taken.

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  5. Excellent photos, Anneli! I love the whole pioneering thing, and how people managed in those early days. I thought at first it was a shelter in case of a tornado or something equally disastrous.

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  6. I assumed that country people with big gardens would use a root cellar even today. Enough potatoes and carrots for the winter would not fit in a refrigerator. I bet those homesteaders and back-to-the-earth, self-sufficient types. Whom I envy, by the way.

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