How To Eat Local Produce Year-Round Part 1
We continue our series on Martha’s Vineyard food history turning to the topic of root cellars. The larger series on Vineyard foodways is based on oral histories found in the Martha’s Vineyard Museum archive located Edgartown, Massachusetts. I’ve transcribed the interviews and share them as short stories that are both enlightening and instructive. Betty Madeiras Alley was born in 1912 in Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard. The family farmhouse had a root cellar where they stored wine and vegetables such as turnips and cabbage. The family covered the root vegetables with sand. Families covered root crops with sand because the sand reduced the horrible gases that root vegetables produced over time. It’s a British food preservation survival practice. (James E. Gage, Root Cellars in America 2012). In storing their vegetables this way to ensure that the family had a healthy supply through the winter and spring.
Here's the take away: If you grow and harvest root vegetables properly, you can greatly reduce the amount of money you spend on produce as well as provide you and your family with nutritious food year-round. Many of us live in homes that have root cellars. Get yourself a wooden barrel and some sand and put this history to work in your own home. In addition to the use of a root cellar you can also take many of the crops to come out of your garden this fall, and use a dehydrator to preserve what you've grown. I purchased a dehydrator more than 14 years ago and it's still running perfectly. I use the dehydrated produce that I produce with it in soups, cereals, and 1000 other ways.