If you could add an unconventional room to your house, what type of room would you want? A wine cellar? Theater room? Indoor batting cage?
This is the time of year, as I finish canning produce harvested from my garden or purchased from farmers’ markets, I would give anything for a cold room. This is what my designated canning cupboard looks like …
THIS is what my sister-in-law’s cold room looks like …
… and that’s only a partial view of one side of the room!
A cold room, or “root cellar”, is an underground room (often found under a front porch) that is built to maintain a constant, cool temperature without allowing what’s inside to freeze. Jars of tomatoes, beans, salsa, sauerkraut, beets, pickles, jams and jellies, and fruit sauces, all ready and waiting. A cold room is also perfect for extending the life and freshness of things like squash, potatoes, onions, apples, and bananas. And did I mention baseballs? It is important to know that you can extend the life of baseballs by reducing their exposure to humidity.
This is my kind of pantry!
Concrete block walls, rock floor and deep wooden shelves on each side provide a home for garden bounty (and a stash of soda and beer). This room is located under the front “porch” and just off the large furnace room, fully equipped with a stove, refrigerator, deep sink, and large table for the canning process.
These rooms now belong to my brother and sister-in-law. My mom and dad designed these rooms back in the 70’s when they built the house for our family. I spent many summer days in this room snapping green beans, cutting corn, pitting cherries, slicing apples and cucumbers, peeling tomatoes, podding peas and lima beans, measuring salt and vinegar and washing dishes.
I know I did more than my fair share of complaining in this room too. I hated pitting cherries. Why? Because I hated cherries. In the self-centered mind of a kid, I didn’t understand why I should have to be subject to cherry juice running down my arms and stains on my fingers just so my brothers could have cherry pie and cobbler. It made no sense! Until now. Now, that I am married to a man who LOVES cherries and seldom gets a cherry pie. Poor thing.
My favorite job of the canning season? Snapping green beans. This is where personality traits become obvious. I liked working with green beans because they were clean and neat. It was a methodical process. You took off just the very ends of the bean and then snapped it into evenly sized pieces and filled the jars. My mom always said she could pick out the jars I filled because all of the beans were exactly the same length.
What can I say, I’m a nerd.
My little photo session brought back lots of memories. Good ones, funny ones, and ones that make me want to apologize to my mom and grandmothers for my attitude (not my brothers though … they ate well). I think of the lessons they taught me in those rooms, the quality of the food that we enjoyed all year-long, and the strength, patience and knowledge those women displayed while telling stories and creating their own form of art. I am grateful.
And that is why I will keep a cold room at the top of my house-hunting wish list.
A theater room would be nice. I know my husband would love that.
The appeal of an indoor batting cage has diminished now that our boys have hung up their gloves.
A wine cellar?
Gee … why do you suppose I want a cold room so badly? 😉🍷
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