Most people wonder if there is any difference between a pantry and cellar. Surprisingly, there are differences between the two, and that is what will be discussed in this article. In the end, you will be able to decide which is right for you: a pantry or cellar.
Humidity distinguishes a root cellar from a cold pantry. The latter is a dryer atmosphere ideal for storing nuts, cereals, canned goods, and just about anything else—while the former requires more humidity to keep produce fresh.
What is a root pantry?
A root cellar is an underground subterranean structure. It’s a space for storing vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other items. Its name refers to the traditional concentration of root crops stored in a basement beneath the ground.
It’s a distinct chamber adjacent to the dining room where food could be prepared and served quickly, as well as where dishes were frequently washed. In addition, it usually comprised a storage room for dinnerware, serving pieces, and the family “plate” or silverware, which belonged to the butler.
This is an old word for the pantry or larder seen in old farmhouses. It comes from an English term for extra pantry storage—large barrels called “butts” were used to store more comprehensive goods.
It is a more recent name for a smaller butler’s pantry. It is typically a cabinet or closet off the kitchen or dining room and is not intended for servant use.
A small elevator transports food or utensils between a row home or estate levels, usually from a basement kitchen to the butler’s pantry near the formal dining room.
Room for Keeping
It is an old English for a family sitting room next to, if not in the same room as, the kitchen.
A tiny room for storing perishable and ready-to-eat meals. The idea predates the invention of the icebox and modern refrigeration.
The Milk Room
It is a cool workroom within the farmhouse and close to the kitchen, often with flowing water from a spring, where you churned butter and set out milk pans for cheese or other dairy requirements.
It’s a separate chamber where meals were prepared in the summertime, usually in the ell or wing of historic farmhouses or, in hot areas, in a different structure. It was more relaxed than the central kitchen, and its use kept the heat from the cooking away from the living quarters.
It has proven essential for winter food supply numerous times and in locations. Even though modern food distribution methods and refrigeration have rendered root cellars obsolete for many people, they remain significant for those who desire self-sufficiency, whether for economic reasons or personal fulfillment.
Gardeners, organic farmers, DIY lovers, homesteaders, preppers, subsistence farmers, and supporters of local food, slow food, heirloom plants, and traditional culture are among the many people who enjoy them.
Pantry, Larder, and Cellar
Pantry, Larder, and Cellar are three nostalgic names with similar goals: they’ve all been used for generations to aid in the storing of food and other materials throughout the winter months.
A larder may be traced back to medieval times when several rooms were used to house all service functions and food storage. For example, larders would have been where to keep the bacon and other cured meats. Most houses in the northern hemisphere are designed with the larder and kitchen on the north or east side of the house, receiving the least amount of sunlight.
A pantry is a space where food and supplies for the kitchen and dining room are kept. Preserves, pickles, and butter have always been associated with pantry foods that are fully prepared and ready to eat.
Root cellars in North America date back to the 1700s and have always been underground or partially underground structures. They’re underground to maintain a constant level of humidity and low temperatures. In addition, cellars assist in the storage of food by keeping it warm in the winter and cool in the summer to prevent deterioration.
Cultures worldwide have had inventive ways to keep their food for lengthy periods. As a result, there’s something for everyone, from cave dwellers smoking meats to Korean fermentation to European charcuterie, curing, pickling, and preserving.
Native Americans taught settlers in Canada how to survive the cold using these similar strategies. So we’ve gotten accustomed to these flavors, and they’re what we look forward to and enjoy eating during the winter months.
Larder vs. root cellar
A larder is a room for storing perishable foodstuff, usually on the rooftop or in small spaces in the house. A Root cellar is a fantastic underground room purposely built for storing root crops for preservation. Of course, you can keep animal products like meat, eggs, milk, etc. But in a root cellar, you can store vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other items.
Fruit cellar vs. root cellar
Fruit seller is for storing fruits and vegetables, while root cellar stores root crops. Both fruit cellar and root cellar are built underground and are temperature controlled. Items you can keep in a root cellar include beets, carrots, horseradish, celeriac, salsifies, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, and salsifies. Fruits stored in a fruit cellar include pumpkins and winter squashes, potatoes, cabbage, and garlic.
Root cellar vs. refrigerator
Root cellars are nature’s refrigerators; they’re holes excavated into the ground for storing veggies and dry things all year, while the fridge is an electric-powered appliance for freezing items. A root cellar is a cool, dry climate that doesn’t freeze in the winter or get overly humid in the summer.
While root cellars have mostly gone the way of the icebox, a prefabricated structure designed to fit in your Hobbit hole has become popular. The Groundfridge, like old root cellars, keeps food at a steady, chilly temperature throughout the year.
Advantages of Root Cellars
While store-bought root vegetables aren’t expensive, homegrown potato or beet quality is significantly more significant, and grocery shops don’t always stock vegetables year-round. So a root cellar is equivalent to having a six-month supply of high-quality products on hand.
Also, knowing that you have enough food security without being at the mercy of grocery stores or supply chain disruptions gives you a sense of security.
Finally, because the ground temperature will naturally refrigerate or cool the product, you won’t have to pay as much for electricity to chill or cool it.
Root cellar temperature
A root cellar must maintain temperatures of about 32° to 40°F, and a humidity level between 85 to 95 percent to function correctly. This means that root cellars may be ineffective in hot, southern climates.
Cool temperatures slowly release ethylene gas from crops and prevent the growth of microorganisms, slowing ripening and decomposition.
The high humidity level prevents moisture loss through evaporation—and the withering appearance that goes with it. Before beginning any construction, check with your local building department to see what legal requirements you need to meet.
Consider your surroundings. Root cellars are not permitted to be built in areas with a high water pipe or nearby septic system. You’ll also want to be in a convenient location. For example, some people have built them beneath a garden shed, so they don’t have to clear snow to get to them in the winter.
You’ll need a layout that allows you to regulate humidity, temperature, ventilation, and drainage. These factors influence how long you can keep your produce in storage.
Types of Root Cellars
Basement Root Cellar
Today, root cellars are frequently attached to houses for easy access, though creating a cold basement corner can be difficult.
The best method is to make two sides of your root cellar out of the foundation walls on the northeast corner. Then, build the other two basement walls with studs and board. To keep the heat out, insulate the interior walls, ceiling, and door.
Ensure a ventilation system is in place that allows cool, fresh air from outside to enter the root cellar while exhausting stale air—this aids in the prevention of mold and mildew.
Digging down into the ground or horizontally into a hillside is another option outside the house. This option necessitates good drainage; sandier soil is preferable. An elevated slope aids in the movement of water away from your pit as it moves downward.
If your winter temperatures fall below 25°F (-4°C), dig your pit so that all crops are below the soil’s surface. Flare the sides of your hole as you dig it to prevent it from collapsing. Line the hole with straw and dried leaves, then cover it with a thick wooden lid and soil.
The Garbage Can
Using a metal garbage can or barrel in your hole-in-the-ground cellar during the winter helps keep water out. A hole that is preferably larger than the diameter of the garbage can and deep enough that the lid of the can sits 4 inches above the soil level.
Cover the lid with a straw or mulch and a sheet of plastic to keep everything dry. Put soil around it, add a straw inside the can with the crops, and cover the lid with straw or mulch and a sheet of plastic to keep everything dry. Even in the coldest weather, root vegetables keep well.
How to Keep Your Root Cellar Cool
Consider the following tips to create the best atmosphere in your root cellar.
- Complete temperature stability is achieved at about 10 feet in depth.
- Avoid digging a root cellar close to a large tree; its roots can be challenging to dig through, and they will eventually grow and crack the cellar walls.
- Because wood does not conduct heat and cold as quickly as metal, wooden shelving, bins, and platforms are the norm inside.
- Because air circulation is essential for reducing airborne mold, shelves should be placed 1 to 3 inches away from the walls.
- Packed soil is the preferred flooring for outdoor root cellars. However, concrete is a good choice for a cellar in a basement.
Every root cellar should have a thermometer and a hygrometer to measure temperature and humidity and should be checked daily if possible.
Heat is usually controlled through ventilation to the outside or an exhaust pipe—usually to allow cold air in, which is especially important on cold nights in the fall.