Root cellars are a great way to store food such as vegetables, fruits, and other fresh produce. They are low-cost and will prevent your food from going bad.
The best thing about it is that you can make your root cellar in your garage. You won’t need to add another section for your house to make space to make way for a great food storage space.
If your refrigerator is already full to the brim, having a root cellar ready for use can save you a lot of time and hassle.
Not only are root cellars good for fresh produce, but you can also benefit from its storage space that is specifically for items that will go bad if not placed inside a fridge.
What are root cellars for?
A long time ago, before refrigerators were invented, root cellars were every household’s best friend when it comes to food storage.
They were the ideal place to keep potatoes, carrots, turnips, and other root vegetables. Most root cellars back in the days can be found underground. Recently, root cellars have made a comeback among modern families.
This is because they are a great way to save energy and lower electric bills compared to refrigerators. Root cellars can keep food from freezing during long winter months and keep food cool and fresh during long summer seasons.
How can I make a root cellar in my garage?
You can actually make a root cellar anywhere from your basement to the inside of your house. If you have a huge garage and it has a lot of room for new items, a root cellar will be perfect in there. Garages are the ideal place where you can store almost anything, after all.
If you’re planning to install a root cellar in your garage, you should be aware of the things you need to consider first, including the weather conditions in your area. Here are the most important things you need to know in making a root cellar in your garage:
1. Ensure Proper Ventilation
Before making a root cellar, make sure that your garage is properly ventilated. This is the most important component to consider about root cellars. Your goal is to create a room with a stable temperature despite the weather changing outside.
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Proper ventilation that is ideal for a root cellar is an airtight space, which is a key to keep your produce and food fresh. Remember that airtight does not mean that you have little to no ventilation.
In fact, ventilation is encouraged to prevent the accumulation of molds as a result of mildews that are trapped inside your root cellar. Like most garage ventilations, you can use pipes that you can easily purchase from your local store.
Proper ventilation means that you allow airflow in and out of your garage. The cool air from outside should be able to flow inside your root cellar while the stale air from your root cellar should be let out through the vents to remove the ethylene gas from vegetables.
2. Abandon A/C and Heat Insulators
Root cellars are specially designed to withstand temperature changes, so adding an air conditioner or heat insulator to your garage is unnecessary. It will also result in higher electricity costs, so just ditch them since they are not needed in root cellars.
Remember that root cellars were already invented way before refrigerators and grocery freezers.
Your fresh produce will be just fine and ready for consumption a few weeks or months later. As long as your garage is properly ventilated, you don’t need to worry about temperature control.
3. Organize your Food Shelves
Even though proper ventilation is the most important key to keeping your food and produce fresh, you also need to consider other factors such as maximizing the space of your root cellar.
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This is to further ensure the longevity of the items you have stored and to save your root cellar more space. Some products are extra sensitive to temperature changes and adopting a food shelving system.
This means that the items that need to be kept cool should be placed on lower shelves, while items that can withstand a warmer temperature can be kept on higher shelves.
4. Consider the Humidity
Having high humidity in your garage will ensure that the food in your root cellars will not dry out during humid weather. It’s recommended to maintain the humidity around 80-95% to keep the moisture, especially in your fruits and vegetables.
Just ensure that you keep check of standard jar lids as moisture can cause it to rust. The humidity level should be within the normal recommended level for root cellars as too much of it can also ruin your food and other fresh produce. It should not go higher than 95%.
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Tips on How to Keep Your Produce Fresh
After making your very own root cellar in your garage, the next thing you have to consider is how to keep the food and produce fresh to ensure their long shelf-life. Below are some of the tips you can try to store your groceries:
- Wash the dirt and debris off your vegetables. Leaving them dirty and wet will promote bacterial growth in your food.
- Handle your fruits and vegetables with care to avoid bruising. The bruising may cause them to decompose at a much faster speed.
- Wrap fruits such as apples and pears slow down their release of ethylene gas that can affect other food items in your root cellar.
- Avoid piling your items together, which can generate heat and spoil them. Make sure they are evenly spaced out on your food shelves.
- Check your fruit and vegetables regularly for a rotten batch and get rid of it immediately to avoid the rotting of other fresh produce next to it.