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Tell Me About Root Cellars
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wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14808
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 16 8:30 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote    

I have a cellar, but it gives me the creeps. It's not that it's haunted or anything (possibly by a lot of farm animals, as I live in an old butchers shop!) it's just a deeply unpleasant place to be. It's very, very wet. It does have a pump to stop it flooding, but has be heated to prevent timbers rotting, so is fairly useless. I've wondered about mushrooms...

We went to Calke Abbey recently, and poked about in the old ice house. Supposedly, they kept lake ice in it all year. I've bought myself some gardening history books for Christmas, so if there's any useful root cellar information in it, I'll let you know.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 32957
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 16 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

more ventilation might make it a very useful space

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 32957
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 16 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

thinking about "ice houses i have known" there are a couple i have had a proper look at .

quite big ,at least shipping container size (on end ie a deep hole), one was bigger.

sited on a north facing slope for natural cool and giving drainage from the bottom.

brick lined ,18th c and loads a money i spose

iirc when in use straw was packed in the spaces around the ice to reduce air flow and add insulation.ice could be mined from the top layer down.

probably not much use unless you have a fair bit of frozen water available in the winter. even then they are something of a luxury rather than a necessity.

Jam Lady



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
Posts: 1704
Location: New Jersey, USA
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 16 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Enjoy. Ice

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 4688
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 16 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

There's a summer camp in Vermont that still uses ice all summer that they cut from their pond. They make a winter party out of it.

video: https://youtu.be/1jxuMhwSvwY

(second half of the video is more about the camp)

Edit:

This was on the sidebar as a recommended video. Very cool! Bit better view of the process, and fancier kit. From New Hampshire
https://youtu.be/9xE6Wu7gVmE

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 8816

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 16 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

In the UK big houses had ice houses, usually below ground and apple stores separately. The ice house was usually egg shaped and built into the side of a hill if possible for easy access and drainage. There was a drain at the bottom and the ice was piled up inside, either pond ice if available, of compacted snow. Access for getting the ice was via a passage about half way up the dome, but not sure how they got out the bottom bit, perhaps ladders?

One of the big houses near us has a number of larders and storage rooms. Apple houses tended to be well insulated and were kept closed up as much as possible after the crop was harvested and had given off a certain amount of initial moisture. The game larder has unglazed windows which used to be fitted with mesh screens to keep the flies out. The dairy is built on the north side of the house and screened by trees to keep out the sun. It is well insulated with lots of ventilation. All the shelves have a gap behind them and as far as I recall, some are stone or marble for coolness and some are scrubbed sycamore for storing cheese. Stone floor of course and I think the stove for some things like scalding milk is in a separate room.

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 4688
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 16 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Do you know why Sycamore was chosen? I've never heard of specific uses for the wood.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 32957
Location: yes
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 16 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

it can be used for kitchen ware spoons and such. non toxic and does not impart much flavour .

possibly a reason for using it as cheese shelves

it also makes good rollers for textile machines such as cards

Jam Lady



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
Posts: 1704
Location: New Jersey, USA
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 16 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Slim, keep in mind that "Sycamore" in Europe is a different tree than "Sycamore" in USA

In Europe the tree is Sycamore Maple, aka European Sycamore, and has the Latin name of Acer pseudoplatanus

In USA - Sycamore (called American Plane in Europe) has the Latin name of Platanus occidentalis

And just to add to the confusion there is also London Plane, aka European Plane, Platanus x acerifolia, a hybrid of American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and Oriental Plane (P. orientalis).

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 4688
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 16 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Oh I probably knew that once...
thanks for the reminder.

Another one that gets thrown in to the mix is Norway maple (Acer platanoides) as you can see by the species

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 8816

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 16 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

European Sycamore, A. pseudoplatanus is not tainting, non staining and has antiseptic/disinfectant properties. It was traditionally used in the dairy, kitchen and laundry for those reasons. I make spatulas out of it because it will make a flat blade without splitting, as my attempts with beech have done. It also, if you quarter saw or cleave it (cut from the edge of the log to the centre each time), shows rather lovely medullary rays which make the wood almost glitter.

I regret to say I know nothing about American sycamore, but my weaving loom, which is Canadian, is made of some kind of maple.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 32957
Location: yes
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 16 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

i knew the leaves have antiseptic properties thanks for mentioning the timber does as well, that would be ideal for dairy use as any spills would be less likely to form colonies to contaminate the cheeses etc.

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 4688
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 16 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I believe the above reasons are also why sugar maple (A. saccharum) is used for a lot of kitchen purposes here. (rolling pin, butcher block, etc)

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 8816

PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 16 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Could well be Slim. Most hardwoods and some softwoods are suitable I think, but sycamore, and by the sounds of it, sugar maple are particularly good. There still seem to be some people that prefer plastic, but it has been shown that even if the surface is cut, as long as wood is washed and allowed to dry out, it develops fewer bacteria than plastic and without needing to use chemicals. There was a fashion for glass cutting boards, but of course knives slip on glass, so fewer bacteria, more cuts.

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14808
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 16 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I had a glass cutting board. It didn't slip, but it was clattery and noisy. Put me right off the idea of fancy marble or quartz worktops. I use plastic that goes in the dishwasher now, but I expect when the Wombling is a bit older and I don't have to make snacks every five minutes I'll go back to wood.

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