Monday, November 23, 2020

Winter Vegetable Storage

 With Thanksgiving arriving everyone prior to 1950 was busy getting ready for winter.  Livestock is slaughtered, firewood and coal is stored, the final crops are harvested, the windows on the house are chinked with newspapers to stop the draft.  Since cellars and thusly root cellars are rare on Delmarva due to the high water level, a variety of root vegetables for the family winter use and for livestock feed were stored outside in kilns (clamps, tumps, etc the name widely varied).  Vegetables such as apples, white potatoes (sweet potatoes were always stored in heated potato houses), celery, turnips, carrots, beets, and cabbages would be stored in these kilns.  Some farmers would have several kilns because different vegetables (cabbages, apple, celery) would not be stored together due to the ethylene gas they produce, smell or moisture.

The construction of the kiln and the placement of the vegetables in the kiln was highly personal based on the family creating it.  Each family felt their way was best.  The basic kiln however was a clear spot of land that straw or pine shats were put down in a layer, then a layer of vegetable placed on that, followed by another layer of straw, followed by more vegetables until a cone shape pile was created.  The pile would then be coved in straw, pine shats and/ or fodder plus an outside layer of dirt.  The center of the pile would just be straw or cover by a slab of rock or tarp to allow for ventilation of the pile.

Bob Jones facebook page Worcester County History had a writeup by Estel Holland on making a kiln, again different from my description but as i said every family did it different.

Storage in the earth: Another thing Daddy used to do in the early fall was build a kiln."" This was done by digging a hole in the ground, approximately four by four feet, maybe 18 to 20 inches deep — not too deep because water could spring in. The pit would be lined with old boards or old tin, tin being best because that would help keep the rodents out. After this was done, you would line the kiln really well with pine shats. After this was done, you would store your cabbage, turnips, and potatoes — usually red skins for they kept better. Cover the top with more boards, leaving a opening in the side for a small door so you could reach in and take out your vegetables as needed. You would pile dirt on your kiln, approximately 1 to 2 feet deep, surrounding all of it except for your little door. This would keep your vegetables from freezing in the winter. You would usually build your kiln near the house so if the weather turned bad with snow, ice, or extreme cold — you never had to walk too far. Other parts of the country have more elaborate systems than this, and are often called root cellars. We kept sweet potatoes, sometimes apples, in a vacant room upstairs near the chimney.

No comments:

Post a Comment