Food Preparation & Storage

How To Build And Use A Root Cellar

The old root cellar is a fantastic way to store food in a controlled environment. Freedom Prepper has covered this before:

Building A Root Cellar

Now, we cover it again. Laurie Neverman and Common Sense Home offer another great how-to article on Root Cellar Design and Use. Please check out their great original.

Photo by American Prepper Network.

Root Cellar 101

Laurie covers the four basics of root cellar design:

  • Ventilation;
  • Earth-shelter;
  • Darkness; and
  • Humidity.

One may build a cellar under or above ground. The colder the area is, the more insulation one needs – meaning underground is the right option.


Lack of proper ventilation is one of the biggest mistakes in root cellar design. You don’t want airtight. The food must be able to breath. You want the air to turn over on a regular basis. That keeps food fresher longer.

Laurie recommends two vents. That ensures good air flow. One should be near the floor, the other near the ceiling. Large cellars require extra attention to airflow.

Proper ventilation also eliminates some of the gases which various fruits and veggies give off. If the gases are trapped, the food may become contaminated or harmed. Vent it away.

Location, Location, Location

The lay of your land will dictate where and how you build. You must have a location that keeps the temperature down. Consider underground if at all possible. This is critical if you have frequent frosts.

The cellar can be under your house or porch or freestanding. Laurie provides numerous construction tips. Read them all.


Light is bad for food storage. It makes things easy to see but actually degrades the food. For use and visibility, maintain a small light that you can turn on and off. When you’re not in there, keep it dark.


Laurie advises keeping the room moist but not wet. Too much humidity will make the food rot. Too little and everything will dry out. Consider using a hygrometer to keep an eye on the water level in the air. Watch and see how the food behaves. Make adjustments as needed.

Proper Storage

Different food items have different needs for air and humidity. Thus, it matters where you place them in the cellar. Laurie provides numerous examples of which foods need what attention.

For example, onions and garlic can go near the top as they do better with more air and less humidity. Potatoes do well with more moisture. They can go down near the floor. Laurie has dozens, scores of other helpful recommendations.

She also recommends several books and construction methods. These cover everything one needs to know to build and operate a proper cellar. Check it all out!

Photo by Home Shalom.

Building the right root cellar means food security for you and your family. It means being able to put produce back for later when it’s needed.

Follow these valuable tips and do it right the first time. Or, if you have an existing cellar, make it a little better. Either way, have fun with it and keep prepping!

Related: 10 More steps to building the ultimate root cellar. 

Perrin Lovett writes about freedom, firearms, and cigars (and everything else) at He is none too fond of government meddling.

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