The Last [Root Cellar] Supper


I’m out. April 16th will mark the 2011 date that I ran out of 2010 garden veg in the root cellar. Turns out in one meal, I ran out of potatoes, carrots, and beets – all at the same time.

Things may have been able to hold out longer, but quality was definitely starting to suffer. In best shape were the carrots – still crisp and earthy. The beets had held on incredibly, but recently hit a wall and cratered in quality quickly. Perhaps the recent milder 6C did them in. One rotted. That’s it though. The potatoes were still in okay shape, the biggest problem being size – only the smallest were left, and small doesn’t store well.

That’s one lesson from my first year of root cellaring: size matters. The biggest of the veg fared the best in storage. Anything small was first to go soft. Another important lesson was that the cellar can handle a mild freeze. The first couple nights my cellar temp was near 0C, I was freaking out, putting hot stock pots of water in there to bring the temp up. I learned from experience that -2C was nothing to worry about. My dad says he’s had his dip to -7 without major damage. A last biggy would be my experience with washed carrots trumping unwashed. I’ll be washing my carrots this fall, no question.

Our celebratory last root veg supper included carrot sprouts/shoots – surprisingly pleasant atop a carrot slaw – to mark the season, along with a couple different cuts of pronghorn. The shot below is briefly marinated skewer or pronghorn heart grilled over a wood fire. I had no idea root cellaring would yield such successes in a first attempt. This growing season, the objective will simply be to grow and stow more.

6 Responses

  1. Fantastic!
    And, now you can buy from the markets as they are all up and coming… look at this small window until growing season. Next year – you will make it past then, no doubt. Heart skewers? I am surprised. I would think it would be rubbery and tough. But, it is antelope….

  2. I am thrilled to have a cold room (not exactly a root cellar, I guess) in my new to me house. Just planted seeds today in my brick planter cum cold frame! As it continues to snow. But the soil was warm.

  3. Brooke says:

    This is amazing Kevin! It still astounds me that what you grow in your own plot can last this long. I reeeaally need a cold room. (And also to be less lazy).

  4. Very exciting to hear you made it this far! I was in the garden last night planting onions with my daughter and shoveling the last of the melting snow onto where (I think!) I planted spinach seeds last week. While rooting about the garage I found some old storm windows which will be converted into a cold frame for next year over the summer.

  5. SherryGreens says:

    Very inspiring, very inspiring indeed.

  6. [...] dehydrate it or put it in a root cellar. I was inspired by people living here, in my cold city, who grow enough food in their backyards to last them all winter. This can be done. People do this. Maybe I can do it [...]

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