Sunday, October 4, 2009

Root cellar?

Our house happened to come with a storage room in the basement, one without shelves but an actual room not designated for anything else. It became our root cellar as the first overflow of harvest began to take over the kitchen counters.

Root cellars are cool and moist because they have earthen floors. Dirt floors. This room of ours had concrete floors just like the rest of the basement. So it failed as a literal root cellar, but it reigned supreme as a-space-to-store-things. John built shelves.

Winter squash were the first inhabitants. They had hard skins and looked durable enough to survive for several years as storage foods. We had vast numbers of them.

The shelves were about as wide as a good-sized squash, so we lined these winter ingredients up in a single rank side-by-side.

We also had potatoes to store, and sunflower heads. We cut these off at the neck and placed them seed-side-up on the shelves. Apples were piled up on a side away from the potatoes, because their smells intermingle and I thought I might not be fond of raw-potato-flavored apples.

I think we had a few turnips, too.

Green beans went into the freezer, which was in another part of the basement.

Tomatoes and eggplants stayed in the kitchen. Their sheer abundance overwhelmed us, but even our amateur thoughts about storage were not so naive as to expect them to survive on their own for long.

I had thoughts of canning, but no time or expertise. How pretty the shelves would have looked with jar after jar of tomatoes! But it didn't happen.

We just ate them as fast as we could, on sandwiches or in the pot for dinner, whatever it might have been.

Soon a hard frost would hit and put an end to the bounty. But for now it threatened to overtake us, and we were glad to have some place to put it all that was for the most part out of sight.


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