Before refrigeration, there was no root cellar for meat, except a structure built underground or partially underground to store food.
When modern homesteaders think of a root cellar, they don’t automatically think of storing meat in it.
Basically, any root cellar can do the job of keeping various food supplies at a low temperature and steady humidity, which is why I have decided to start storing meat without refrigeration.
There may come a time when modern homesteaders are forced to go off the grid, so let’s get prepared.
Since a root cellar keep food from freezing during the winter, and keep food cool during the summer months to prevent spoilage, it is the perfect solution to preserving meat without refrigeration.
Although fresh meat can be stored in the root cellar, I intend to store salt meat, dried meat and canned meat and venison.
I have never tried to keep fresh meat without refrigeration, so I would not feel safe adding it to my long-term root cellar for meat storage, just yet.
The secondary use for your root cellar is storing all those vegetables you harvested such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, beet roots, onions, winter squash, and cabbage.
Jared preserves, jams, vegetables and fruits, water, bread, butter, milk, cream, and salad greens can be stored too.
And, what better place to store wine or other home-made alcoholic beverages.
My research revealed that a separate cellar is recommended for storing apples because they produce ethylene gas that other fruits may be sensitive too, which could speed up the ripening process, thus cause it to rot.
Why the secrecy?
It’s just an option.
Today, root cellars are often attached to houses for easy access, though it can take some effort to create a cold basement or crawl space corner.
The best method is to use the foundation walls on the northeast corner for two sides (if possible).
If it’s a crawl space, dig down into the ground (if it is completely dry) for head clearance and access via a trap door or walk in.
Water can seep into a basement from elevated places nearby, such as a raised driveway, therefore, I would seek an alternative construction method if your basement or crawl space is damp or has moisture problems.
Build the other two walls in the basement with stud and board.
Insulate the interior walls, ceiling, and door (and any pipes or ducts) to keep the heat out.
Ensure there is a ventilation system that allows cool, fresh air from the outside to be brought into the root cellar and stale air to be exhausted out.
You will create the best atmosphere in your root cellar for meat by considering the following:
Complete temperature stability is reached about 10 feet deep.
Don’t dig a root cellar near a large tree; the tree’s roots can be difficult to dig through, and they will eventually grow and crack the cellar walls.
Inside, wooden shelving, bins, and platforms are the norm, as wood does not conduct heat and cold as rapidly as metal does.
Air circulation is critical for minimizing airborne mold, so shelves should stand 1 to 3 inches away from the walls.
Every root cellar for meat needs a thermometer and a hygrometer (to measure temperature and humidity, respectively), which should be checked daily, if possible.
Heat is usually regulated using ventilation to the outside or an exhaust pipe (usually to allow cold air in, often on fall nights to get the temperature down).
Photos have been added to present visual ideas of pre-construction, post-construction, and the finished cellar.