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Down Cellar

January 13, 2014

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We never say down cellar around here, but I am sure everyone knows the term.  Probably an east coast thing, I’m guessing.  On New Year’s day I transferred the rest (we had been eating out of the crock) of the kraut that had been fermenting away in the kitchen since early November.  By transferring I mean I decrocked the kraut into half gallon mason jars and put them in the basement – down cellar – where the jars can cool their heels until we are sick of kraut.  Kraut overload pretty much coincides each year with the the first tender spring greens of the year.  Like everything, there is a season really, if you opt out of the grocery store.

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If there was one tip I could give future homesteaders  – it would be to make sure you have a basement in your new homestead.  If you’re going to build, add a basement to your plans, you’ll never regret it if you’re interested in growing and storing food.  If you’re looking at acreage with houses, a basement is a definite asset.  Unless of course, there is a problem with drainage and the basement could fill with water.

Our house is old and was built in the day when it was a given that you would need food storage options in your house.  Our canned goods are in the basement along with onions, garlic and all the paraphernalia it takes to do home food production.  It’s a little too warm to store our potatoes or other root crops in, but definitely if you lived in a colder climate a basement would be the best place to have room(s) carved out for food storage.

If, big if, the kraut lasts until Jane is dry, I can put the jars in the milk fridge until we finish it or she has her calf, whichever comes first.  But having the basement gives me some leeway, I can make a big batch of kraut and store it for a long time.  That meshes with our food production model, instead of making kraut every week, I have to bend to my garden bounty when it happens.  Of course, I am somewhat in control of this garden bounty from seed to kraut, but knowing I have a storage option – the basement – allows for kraut or other big projects to be yearly projects kind of like the hay harvest.  Once you’re done, you’re done and you can move onto something else.

Basements rule!

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. VaGirl2 permalink
    January 13, 2014 2:05 pm

    Down cellar…sounds like something people in New England would say…in Virginia, it’s “in the basement”. I enjoy your posts so much. Thanks for sharing your life with us. 🙂

  2. goingplacesbr permalink
    January 13, 2014 2:10 pm

    Right now my food storage area is a room built in the garage…finished but unheated and perfect this time of year but I know it won’t last all year. Will definitely need a down cellar in purchased house!

  3. January 13, 2014 3:50 pm

    Lover of kraut and homemade is the BEST – so jealous and so happy – just give me a Reuben to slap some kraut on:)

  4. January 13, 2014 7:18 pm

    So you put the Kraut in jars raw and store it in the basement? I’ve always been pasteurizing when I canned fresh sauerkraut. Now that I come to think of it, it seems unnecessary. It’s done fermenting, so it won’t explode the jar; and it’s full of lactic acid, so it doesn’t need additional preservation.

    • January 13, 2014 9:29 pm

      TV, no it doesn’t need any further processing, the fermentation is the preservation. I can’t think of a reason to can it, unless you don’t have any cool storage. It does get softer after a long time, but it’s still good. We don’t really eat it cooked either except in sauerkraut soup and then it’s just added at the last after you have your soup base done.

  5. January 14, 2014 4:58 am

    For some reason around here kraut starts being our least favorite food around asparagus time! We like a good drizzle of pumpkin seed oil with pork chops on ours. And my husband grew up right outside Boston and he says ‘down cellar’.

  6. Beth in Ky permalink
    January 14, 2014 6:13 am

    I know you are a lover of the stone crocks, but in our neck of the woods those things can go for $300 at auctions. Or more. Would you advise against food grade plastic buckets??
    I have never made any. And honestly, I’ve never eaten any I liked. I do realize that I may possibly have never eaten GOOD kraut.

    • January 14, 2014 6:27 am

      Beth, can you find them new locally? I’m not a fan of plastic for acid stuff, just because…others are fine with it. You can get new crocks around here at the feedstore etc., but you know I would just use canning jars then you’re not committed if you don’t like kraut. I have a couple of crocks from here, and my husband collected them when they where cheap plus he brought some home from his Gma’s when she passed away.

      I don’t eat as much kraut as others here and I’m the German! But, the cool weather ferment always tastes better to me. Less wild stuff in the air I think. Summer time kraut doesn’t go over too well here, so I just make it with the fall cabbage. Cabbage is a staple here though in some form most of the year, had it last night for dinner, in fact 🙂

    • January 14, 2014 1:25 pm

      Lehman’s has them and they promise not to have lead paint in the lining, which is a concern with some of the antique ones. For smaller batches we do a lot of fermenting in gallon sized canning jars, which cost a few dollars each at most and are really easy to store.

  7. January 14, 2014 9:04 am

    That’s an expression my neighbor uses all the time. Couldn’t agree with you more – a cellar is top on my list for my next home. Along with a proper barn, fencing and a garage! But I’d give everything up except running water and indoor plumbing, if I could have a cellar.

  8. January 14, 2014 12:38 pm

    I grew up in the Northeast and we said “down cellar.” Unfortunately, I now live in a region of the country that doesn’t have basements. I miss having one.

  9. January 14, 2014 1:23 pm

    We sure do say “down cellar” here in Northern New England, where we have the double-edged food storage sword of staying cool but not freezing–another plus to basement food storage is protection from the hard freeze that food stored in sheds and barns is prone to.

  10. Bee permalink
    January 14, 2014 1:58 pm

    I would LOVE to have a cellar in the new house, although hubby is muttering about not being able to dig one with the backhoe. If all else fails, we’ve got a north-facing slope in the frost pocket where our main orchard is that’s reasonably close to the house. We could do a root cellar there. It’s not quite what I want, especially as I’m getting older and have to considering being able to access my food supply when I need a walker :-), but if that’s my only option, so be it…

  11. January 15, 2014 9:22 am

    We love sauerkraut around here. For now, since we’re a ways away from our ideal homesteading situation, I’ve been making small batches in half gallon jars and using an airlock. The most recent batch features green and purple cabbage and carrots. I love eating it as it ferments. The change that takes place in flavor is pretty amazing.

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