Storing up a winter food supply

One of the things I’d really like to improve on at our house is storage of fall and winter foods. We have a haphazard approach at best.

Right now, there’s a big bag of apples in the fridge, which we bought at Vintage Virginia Apples. They might be fine in there until we eat our way through them, but in years past I’ve found myself eating soft-ish apples as the bag nears its end.

We have bunches of garlic hanging on the wall: again, prone to softening as we get through the supply. I’m not sure how to prevent this–any tips, folks?

There are potatoes and sweet potatoes stored in bags in our dishwasher. (Which we never use.) These are almost guaranteed to start growing eyes before we can eat all of them. Acorn squash is sitting out on the counter; I don’t know what kind of longevity to expect from it. I know butternuts keep very well, and we have many of those stored in the basement inside a small freezer that isn’t plugged in. It’s basically functioning as a rodent-proof box.

Obvious food storage area: the top of a bookcase.

These are the lovely gooseneck pumpkins we grew. They look great just sitting around the house, but they only keep for a month or so. I’ve roasted two of them, scooped out the flesh and frozen it for pies and soups–but we still have more. I found myself googling "pumpkin fennel soup" and found this, which doesn’t sound half bad.

Bottom line: We’ll have to either get that second freezer running, build a root cellar, or both. Our most interesting idea for underground food storage involves an inactive, hand-dug well behind our house. Maybe we could rig up a pulley and basket system to take advantage of its cool, constant temperature.

Anyone out there built (or inherited) a root cellar? How do you use it?

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