Thursday, November 06, 2008


I grew up in a household that canned: Every fall, my mom dragged out the pressure cooker and canning kettle, and went to work on the tomatoes, corn, and peppers from my father's large kitchen garden. (He was an excellent gardener, but never saw fit to include children in his past time.) Reading this article brought to mind those steamy August and September afternoons helping my mom in the kitchen, but it also dug up memories of my grandmother's root cellar, located in the basement of the wash house on her turn-of-the-century farmhouse where she lived the better part of five decades. When she died, the shelves were still full of large, half-gallon jars with produce from her small plot out the back door. The smell down there was always odd but not unpleasant: the mineral scent of the limestone that provided the foundation and floor, the sourish smell of pickles and sauerkraut, the scent of fabric softener and bluing from upstairs.

No real need for a root cellar here in Florida, except for making beer. Actually, I think if we had one we'd use it more in the doldrums (August and September) than the winter, when there's plenty groing fresh in the garden.

Food Storage as Grandma Knew It
The Worleys, like a number of other Americans, have made the seemingly anachronistic choice to turn their basement into a root cellar. While Ms. Worley’s brownstone basement stash won’t feed the couple through the winter, she said, “Ithink it’s a healthy way to go and an economical way.”

According to a September survey on consumer anxieties over higher fuel and food prices from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University in Ames, 34 percent of respondents said that they were likely to raise more of their own vegetables. Another 37 percent said they were likely to can or freeze more of their food. The cousin to canning and freezing is the root cellar.

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