How To Eat Local Produce Year-Round Part 3
This is our last story on root cellars on Martha's Vineyard. On the island and in others regions of North America, English colonists developed the root cellar in response to higher summer temperatures and lower winter temperatures than they had been used to in their native lands that made it difficult to store food long-term. They borrowed the concept from the Native American neighbors who had the tradition of storing food belowground in pits for cellar houses for maintaining edible stores. (James E. Gage, Root Cellars in America 2012)
Rosalie Splende was born in August of 1904 to a family of 10 children including her. At the time of her oral history she was almost 79 years old. She estimates that her mother would put up about 100 jars of preserved fruits and vegetables tin the cellar by the time the winter came. She remembers, “I used to sit up until 11 or 12 at night helping her peel produce to get it ready to be canned,” and then stored in the root cellar. Root cellars preserved vegetable crops by maintaining a persistent temperature between 33 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit inside throughout extremes of cold and hot weather outside.
The take away: Think about culinary traditions from the past that you can leverage in the present. Here are some an example that our family uses: The dehydrator which I mentioned in yesterday's story and most recently creating a raised garden bed that will produce some great tasting produce that will reduce our grocery bill for years to come. We also started composting which will reduce the amount of waste that gets sent to a landfill and produces terrific organic dirt with which to fertilize future gardens as well as our lawn. Please share your suggestions as well for pulling strategies from the past into the present.