Root cellaring is not quite as simple as having a cool, dark place with good humidity and air circulation in which you store a bunch of fruits and vegetables.

It isn’t complicated, but you will need to include the following practices in your root cellar maintenance.


  • Harvest vegetables, especially root vegetables, as late in the season as possible before cellaring them.
  • Be very careful when handling food that you intend to
  • Even minor scratches and bruises can lead to speedy
  • Do not wash root vegetables before putting them into cold storage; simply brush the dirt off of them.
  • Some foods such as potatoes, and winter squash including pumpkins, onions, shallots, and garlic need a drying-out or “curing” period before they are stored in a root cellar.
  • To do this, store them away from direct light at warmish room temperatures for a few days or as much as 2 weeks before transferring them to cold storage.


  • Carefully examine each fruit or vegetable before putting it into cold
  • Those with bruises, skin breaks, or other blemishes could cause other produce that they are stored with to rot.
  • Ever heard the adage about “one rotten nut spoiling the whole barrel”?
  • It’s true!
  • Take a look at your cellared fruits and vegetables regularly and remove individual items that are showing any brown spots, mold, or other signs of spoilage.
  • Don’t throw them out, though.
  • There’s probably plenty of unspoiled food there to salvage for immediate eating, dehydrating, chutney making, and the like.


  • Vegetables generate heat, which can cause spoilage when they are piled deep.
  • Try to store the food in a single or few layers, and rotate them every couple of weeks.
  • Pears and other fruits should be stored separately from vegetables.
  • They should also be loosely, and individually wrapped in paper.
  • The reason for both of these pieces of advice is to prevent the ethylene gas emitted by the fruits from speedily ripening adjacent foods or causing them to rot.


  • Store brassicas including turnips and cabbage separately from other foods and don’t store them too close to your home.
  • This is not because of spoilage factors but rather because this group of vegetables has sulfur compounds that can create an unpleasant rotten egg smell
  • They will still taste fine when cooked, but you didn’t want your living room to smell?


  • Your root cellar is not a good place to store your canned goods.
  • Home-canned jars need a cool but dry
  • The relatively high humidity of a root cellar can potentially unseal canning lids.
  • However, the cool, dry environment that home-canned goods need is an ideal environment for storing onions, shallots, and garlic.
  • Unlike most fruits and vegetables, those members of the Allium genus should not be stored in the high humidity of a root
  • A cool, dark, dry pantry is ideal for storing both your sealed jars of food and those bulb vegetables.
  • If you don’t have such a place in your home, prioritize the dark and dry over cool (a hallway closet will work).
  • If you need to store onions, shallots, or garlic in your root cellar, remember that the driest air will be farthest away from the door or opening and at the higher


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