As most of you already know, a very common historical way of preserving foods from harvest to table is a root cellar. But using modern technology you can take an old concept and improve it way beyond what it once was.
Back when Borders was shutting down operations, my wife and I went browsing, and I picked up a book called ‘The Complete Root Cellar Book’ by Steve Maxwell and Jennifer MacKenzie. It was a whimsical purchase, but one I certainly don’t regret.
The Complete Root Cellar Book isn’t some old fashioned root cellar guide, it’s a surprisingly comprehensive guide into modern uses for root cellars.
No, we’re talking about completely modernized techniques to build root cellars for multiple environments. They have six chapters on various situations, covering everything from a small root cellar built into an existing basement to how you might install a root cellar in your apartment. And everything in between.
That alone is worth the price of the book. These designs are detailed enough to walk down to the hardware store with. You get excellent diagrams, advice on different building materials, and practical ‘how to’ guides on various aspects of building your own root cellar.
But that’s not all. After they help you design and build your own custom root cellar, the authors of The Complete Root Cellar Book provide you with a massive chapter on how to create storage options that will cater to the storage needs of different vegetables and foods.
As with the design chapters, this chapter is chock full of diagrams and ideas for various bins, containers, and hanging methods. This book practically takes you by the hand and walks you through all your options, explaining the pros and cons of each.
Now that you know where to store your food, the authors proceed to tell you how to store your food in a root cellar. They go into detail on different types of food, how to prepare them for storage, what kind of climate and humidity they need, and so on. Everything you could possibly want to know about storing food in a root cellar is here.
The last part of the storage section includes a fairly comprehensive chapter on how to avoid and deal with common pests and annoyances. Definitely a cool chapter, and I’ve already used some of the techniques they describe here even though we don’t have a root cellar.
To top it all off, they include a whole section of the book with recipes for preparing food from your new root cellar.
Honestly, I was pretty dubious about The Complete Root Cellar Book when I bought it, but after I finally pulled it off the shelf at home and read through it, I was extremely pleased with my purchase.
I’d buy it again without a doubt, and I highly recommend this book to everyone.