The Basement Of Our House Was For Storing Food


The preservation of food has always been a challenge to the peoples of the world. Knowledge of such was a necessity of one was to survive long periods or drought, poor harvests, and long winters.. Man through his ingenuity and resourcefulness has used the tools and means at his disposal with obvious success.

A cold ground basement was a must for those living In the North. It was in the basement that the families stored their supplies of food. Our home was no different. Red beets and apples were buried in layers in the ground- separated by layers of dry straw. Potatoes survived in the dark both minimal sprouting. In winter the basement was quite cold. Yogurt, milk, and cheese could be stored for varying periods of time until late Sprang. Sauerkraut was made by salting chopped cabbage and packing it in barrels.

Pickles were also made and stored in barrels.

At the end of each growing seasons we all helped in the gathering, cleaning and chopping of vegetables and fruits. It was then up to Grandmother and Ma to continue our efforts until the final, perfected and colorful jars emerged. They were cooled, labeled, dated, and carried to the basement for storage.

Our bountiful larder gradually diminished through the winter months. The cycle was then repeated.

Pa hung a two tiered shelf which was suspended by chains from the ceiling. After Ma baked bread, it was cooled and stored on these shelves away from the rats which inevitably found their way into the basement.

Everyone had a cat and ours, Amos, proudly patrolled our basement: - deterring, and oft times devouring the intruders.

The basement was one of my favorite places. It was cool and dimly lit. It was a place of comfort. One couldn't help but feel reassured as one surveyed the shadowy stacks of bread, the jarred foods, and the barrels of sauerkraut and pickles.

All of us, at one time or another, would take his turn sitting on the narrow rough-hewn stairs leading to the basement. It was One of the few places where one could go for a few minutes respite from the noises of the younger children, or to just cool off -physically as well as mentally. It was a place to contemplate the day, --or to even day dream. But this was a luxury.

Chores consumed most of our time.