For years, I wondered how our ancestors survived without refrigeration
….yet the answer is far more logical than I ever expected!
It’s referred to as a “root cellar” and is making a huge comeback among homesteaders and off-gridders today!
And why not? It makes all the sense in the world! Taking advantage of cooler underground temperatures is not only reliable, but free!
After researching through books, websites and even workshops, I’ve come to learn that ideal conditions needed for a successful root cellar vary tremendously, even from town to town. We will be discussing that in this week’s posts, so stay with me.
A few weeks ago, I attended a “Root Cellar Workshop” given without charge by “New Liberty Farms”. There was also a “Root Vegetable Cook-Off“, where participants brought yummy recipes to share with the group. Talk about building community through the sharing of information and food! I thoroughly enjoyed myself! Don’t worry, I’ve included a couple of the recipes at the end of the post!
What’s the point of a root cellar if you don’t enjoy root vegetables?
Beth, from New Liberty Farms, showed us the difference between potatoes stored at room temperature in her home (left) as opposed to potatoes stored in a plastic container with lid in her garage during the cooler months (right). What a difference! Her garage possessed conditions that made this possible, not all garages do. By experimenting on a smaller scale, you can discover what will work for you.
Here’s another way to store root veggies in a cooler space during the winter months. Wrapping them in newspaper can preserve your root veggies for months. Once again, these had a lid as well.
Certain fruits and vegetables fair better in a root cellar environment than others, this will be discussed in more detail in tomorrow’s post. This is a big topic and will take a few days to unpack!
For those of you who might struggle to enjoy root vegetables, many shared that day that ‘roasting’ is the key to making root veggies delish!
Honestly, I can say that I’ve ever eaten a turnip, parsnip or rutabaga, but this recipe was wonderful!!! Must try!
Roasted Root Vegetables Scented with Apple and Mustard
3 cups apple cider or juice
1 cup fruity white wine such as Gewurztraminer (don’t ask me what that is, just copying the recipe)
2 tbls. smooth Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons of butter
4-5 pounds root vegetables, both sweet (carrots, parsnips and/or yams) and savory (turnips, rutabagas and/or celery root) peeled and cut in to 1/2″ cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a saucepan, reduce the cider or juice, wine and mustard over high heat to 1 1/2 cups. Whisk in the butter and pour over vegetables, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper and place the veggies in a single layer in a large roasting pan in a preheated 375 degree oven. Roast for 1 hour or so, or until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender. Stir the veggies 3 or 4 times during the roasting process to promote browning on all sides. ~from “Your Organic Kitchen” by Jesse Ziff Cool, Rodale Press
Eve Jacobs’ Magic Chicken Soup
4 quarts water or fat free chicken broth
1 large cut up chicken
2 whole onions, unpeeled
4 parsnips, peeled and left whole
1/2 cup chopped celery leaf
2 stalks celery
1 rutabaga, peeled and quartered
1 large turnip, peeled and quartered
6 carrots, peeled and left whole
6 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
6 tbsp. snipped fresh dill
1 tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
In a large pot, bring the chicken and broth or water to a boil, add:
Onion, parsnip, celery
4 tbsp. dill
salt and pepper
Cover and simmer 2 1/2 hours. Strain and remove chicken, discard veggies. Chill broth and remove fat. Bone meat, re-heat. Cut zucchini, remaining rutabaga and carrots into strips and add. Simmer 15 minutes and serve with dill.
Do YOU have a root vegetable recipe that your family loves? Please post it here so that we can all benefit!!