Nov 26, 2009

"All is Safely Gathered In"

Part 3: 
From Row to Root Cellar

    November is upon us and this has been a surprisingly mild Fall.  By now we are usually knee deep in snow, with ice covered ground, howling winds and power outages. Grandpa Hans tilled up the garden so it would be ready for next Spring and we have been busy getting everything into the root cellar, safe and sound.
    This year, as well as planting varieties that were specifically for winter storage, we also were able to talk with Margareta Magnusson, a wonderful woman from Kramfors who is an expert on root-cellaring and  who taught at the university in Umeå for many years.  She gave us valuable advice on methods that she had found to be successful in using the root cellar to the best advantage.
     In the village of Eden, root cellars are not vented at all.  That is uncommon, even in the surrounding villages, so in order to get the proper temperature for the root cellar to be loaded without becoming too warm (the vegetables themselves exude heat), we started in late September to open the door at night and close it in the daytime.  We were so interested in how the temperature dropped gradually until it was below 5 degrees celsius - an important point since above 5 degrees is when mold will grow.

     A big difference with the advice from Mrs. Magnusson was that she not only trims but washes her root vegetables - excluding potatoes -  in cold water before storing them for the winter.  The washing was contrary to every book and article we had previously read on root cellaring. We decided to try her methods this year as we are determined to use the root cellar to it's fullest!

     The building that houses our root cellar is one of the oldest on the farm, dating to the year 1200. 
 It is built of wood, two stories high, with an interior entrance to the below-ground vault.  The large mound on the outside right hand end of this picture shows the position. 

    Traversing these steps, centuries old, is a real trick! But once you make it, it is just a wonderful feeling to open the heavy wooden door and see the garden bounty all laid out before you.  Sacks of potatoes, bins of washed and trimmed carrots, parsnips, turnips and beets (both raw and pickled in jars and crocks), fresh, leafy cabbages and jars of sauerkraut, bottles of different kinds of saft---all lining shelves and stacked on pallets.  So far Mrs. Magnusson's advice seems to be just great.  The temperature has stayed below 5 degrees celsius and there is no sign at all of mold.  As we have used the vegetables they have been crisp and cool.  Terrific!
Here's what you see when you open the door:


The root cellar is full, the meats are in the freezers, the braided strands of yellow and red onions are hanging in the basement-cool and dry, the jellies, saft and sylts are sparkling in their glass containers. 

     This has been a singular experience and one that brings with it a great deal of understanding that one like Nainy, who was not raised on a farm,  simply could not have had before.  There is an imperitive order and sequence to it all that results in the enormous blessings of feeling secure and prepared for the coming winter season. 
     This post will go up on American Thanksgiving Day.  As a family we are filled with gratitude that "all is safely gathered in" and have the personal hope expressed in the final words of the hymn....

"Lord of harvest, grant that we, wholesome grain and pure may be". 

1 comment:

Lauralee said...

Sending Happy Thanksgiving greetings to all from Olympia to Eden!