The Complete Root Cellar Book is a valuable guide to anyone considering adding a root cellar to their home. A root cellar is a cool, usually humid area that is used to store fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc., for weeks or months and is used as a long term storage solution. Root cellars can be a valuable addition to any home food storage system because they allow you to store some fruits and vegetables for longer time periods than would normally be possible.
The Complete Root Cellar Book offers building plans and instructions for five different root cellar options both indoor and outside from simple to complicated. Options one through three involve modifications to an existing cellar and will require carpentry and basic electrical skills. Option four discusses outside root cellaring and is ideal for the person who doesn't want to or isn't able to modify their basement for an indoor root cellar. It requires no special skills to create these options in your backyard. Option five discusses root cellar options for those that live in townhouses, condos or have no basement. Plans are well written and should be simple enough to be followed by someone with basic construction skills.
The book also discusses storage options inside your root cellar, including graded storage, separation, crop specific storage and a variety of different storage options with directions on how to create them. Each crop has specific storage needs as far as temperature, humidity, method of storage and storage preparation. A variety of different crops are listed. There are also tips on salting, curing, shocking and corning for storage and how to achieve ideal root storage conditions for temperature and humidity. I really loved the optimal storage conditions section that details how each vegetable should be stored both inside and outside.
The third section of The Complete Root Cellar Book is chock full of tasty root cellar recipes. Recipe sections include soups; salads and appetizers; side dishes; main courses; desserts and baked goods; and condiments. The recipes are well written and offer a detailed ingredients list and step by step instructions. Each recipe includes side dish serving options. Measurements are offered in both US and metric equivalents. Each recipe uses a fruit or vegetable that can be easily stored in your root cellar. Some require the use of food processors or immersion blenders. The recipes vary in level of difficulty from very basic (like the Sage Butter Parsnip Saute) to more complicated (like the Perogies). There are several recipes that deal with fermentation as well that will require the use of a pickling crock and water bath canner.
All in all I found this to be an extremely helpful book although possibly intimidating to someone with no carpentry skills. The options for outside storage could easily be built by anyone with a shovel and a strong back. The section on food storage options is valuable to any home cook who is interested in making the items in her pantry last longer, and the recipe section offers tons of great recipes for many traditional fall crops.