I’ve been getting quite a few letters and emails about other ways to use root cellars. One of the ideas that I have talked to several people about is using your root cellar to hang meat.
My best friend in north Idaho hangs meat in his root cellar every year. He has had up to four deer hanging in his cellar from friends and family during the hunting season. No flies, varmints or hot sunrays to worry about. The carcasses hang there just like they would in a butcher shop, aging a bit until he is ready to cut them up. The temperature in the fall can easily be kept in the 35 to 45 degree range.
Another perfect use for your root cellar is in practicing the old almost lost art of hanging and drying sausages. I have not tried this myself, but plan to start next week. We just killed a few hogs last week and I’m determined to learn and practice this skill. The area behind the stairs of a Rainy Day Root Cellar will be a perfect use for this area. I will have to watch the temperature a bit, because this area, while covered by a concrete slab with steel cellar doors, is not insulated with earth like the main cellar, so is subject to freezing. I have monitored the temperature and humidity in this area quite frequently. It gets below freezing in the stairwell if the outside temperature falls into the teens. From what I have been reading, the sausages shouldn’t be frozen for long periods of time because it speeds the drying process too quickly. I’m just not sure yet what long periods means.
(Behind the stairs in a Rainy Day Root Cellar)
One solution would be to move the sausages into the main body of the cellar in the evening and put them back into the stairwell at night. I’m not sure that sounds like something I want to do. I’m thinking of building an insulated box to hang the sausages in behind the stairs. I can open it during the day and close it at night. I think this will be an easy and effect solution to avoid freezing temperatures, but won’t know until I experiment.
(The sausage shown in the photo are out of the freezer, just for effect)
One comment on drying sausage, again, this isn’t from personal experience yet. The practice of drying sausage and meats in general was a very common and life sustaining practice prior to refrigeration, and should be dusted off, learned, practiced and added to one’s bag of skills. Sometimes refrigerators and freezers just might not work.