Supercharge your root cellar and turn it into a homestead cold room instead! With a cold room you’ll have greater versatility for whatever homestead or farm business ventures you expand into in the future. Here are at least 8 reasons for you to build a cold room for your homestead (But, ultimately, your imagination is the limit!)
Homestead Cold Room: 9 Reasons to Go Beyond a Root Cellar
There are many uses for a homestead cold room! When you can set the temperature of the room with a CoolBot you’ll find there are at least 9 reasons (beyond a root cellar) to build a homestead cold room on your farm!
Use Your Homestead Cold Room as a Root Cellar
Obviously, you’ll still be able to use the cold room as a root cellar. Your options expand not decrease when you decide to turn your root cellar into a cold room. With a few exceptions, most of the crops you’ll store in your root cellar will be even happier and store longer when the temperature is lower.
Our friend Laurie over at Common Sense Home has a great guide of considerations for building your root cellar.
Cold Room Benefits for Hunting & Home Butchering
Having a homestead cold room is invaluable for the home butcher! Having cold storage options will open many doors for you! In fact, your cold room will quickly pay for itself with the fees you save at the butcher.
- Hanging Pork, Venison, and More
- Aging Beef
- Air Chilling Chickens
- Store Lard & Tallow
If you already butcher your own livestock, you know how limited you can be when deciding the best time to butcher… and your one option is the dead of winter. Even then, butchering beef at home is tricky because during the aging process, usually two weeks, there is the risk of the meat freezing if it is hung in an outbuilding.
When you have a cold room, you no longer have to worry about freezing meat. And your butchering schedule will be significantly more flexible because you’ll be able to consider doing the work even in the spring or fall.
This could mean the difference between salvaging livestock suddenly injured beyond rehabilitation and needs to be put down or losing the investment and wasting the life. If that situation happens when the weather is warm or your butcher’s schedule is full, you simply lose the meat.
Your cold room can also be fired up when it’s time to butcher your meat chickens. Instead of filling a bathtub or barrel with ice to cool broiler chickens, you can rack them up in the cold room to air chill.
Allowing your chickens to air chill for a day or two before packaging them has many benefits including more tender meat and crispier skin for roasted or grilled chicken!
Finally, many folks worry over the proper way to store tallow and lard. Freezing is always an option, but storing it on a shelf in the cold room frees up prime freezer space. (Especially if you got a mind-blowing 65 quarts of lard from just 2 pigs in one year like we did!) This means you won’t have to wait for it to defrost before using it straight off the shelf.
Use a Homestead Cold Room for Making Charcuterie
If you are interested in making your own hams, salami, bacon, or sausage at home, your homestead cold room will come in handy for your charcuterie adventures. Control the temperature and humidity in the space and you won’t need to worry about fluctuations that may cause inconsistencies or spoilage in the final product.
Instead of keeping 25 pounds of bacon in the refrigerator to cure for a week or more, you can use the cold room for the curing process. You can also install hooks from the ceiling for hanging meat and aging prosciutto.
Store Hard Cheese for the Home Dairy
Eventually, many family cow owners discover the joys of home cheesemaking and it won’t be long until the mini-cheese fridge is bursting at the seams. The homestead cold room is the perfect place to store hard cheeses after they’re done aging.
Use a CoolBot for Your Home Brewery
Whether you enjoy home brewing beer, wine, cider, or mead you can use the CoolBot in your homestead cold room to control the temperatures for fermentation & aging so you can get consistent results.
Store Beverages in a Wine Cellar
Instead of having a separate beverage fridge in your home, use the same space that is meeting other homestead needs to store your homemade wines and other beverages with a homestead cold room
Store Maple Sap Until Ready to Boil Down
When most homesteaders still have a day jobs, many of us aren’t able to boil down sap collected daily to make maple syrup in the late winter. When the temperatures are warming up enough to allow the sap to flow, it’s often not cold enough to safely store that sap for a few days until you have time to make maple syrup. Keep your sap in the homestead cold room and the problem is solved!
Use a Cold Room as a Storm Shelter/Safe Room
With some extra planning and reinforcements, your homestead cold room could do double duty and function as a storm shelter for severe weather or as a safe room.
Take Your Homestead and Farm Business to the Next Level
Owning a homestead cold room may also expand your options for turning your farm into a business. Having a cold room would be useful as a floral cooler for the flower farmer, storing freshly harvested produce for the market gardener, a surplus of eggs, a walk-in cooler for the local venison butcher (or even installed for a mobile butcher), and much more!
Designing a Homestead Cold Room
This year we designated a corner of our basement to build a homestead cold room. The biggest need on our homestead was for a space to put overflow from the pantry. Since we don’t need 50+ quarts of tomato sauce for example in the kitchen pantry, keeping a few jars upstairs at a time saves a ton of space. When I run out, I simply need to go “shopping” down in the root cellar.
Our next need is for a space to store root crops from the garden. Carrots, parsnips, beets, cabbage, winter squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and more are all tucked away in crates in the root cellar this year. Using a CoolBot controller, the temperature and humidity can be easily moderated and our harvest will last long through the winter. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of canning. I can what I need to but if there is a way for me to store garden produce without standing in the heat of the kitchen when I could be outside, I don’t want to. Having a homestead cold room that functions as a root cellar not only saves me the expense of canning jars over time but also saves me from hot, steamy days in the kitchen cooking and canning produce.
Because of these two primary needs, our homestead cold room had to be outfitted with an extensive shelving system. We bought storage shelving and while the frame is sturdy, the shelf itself is starting to bow under the weight of the canning jars (despite having a brace underneath midway). The shelf height is adjustable which works great for leaving room for 5-gallon buckets for our overflow bulk food and wooden crates of squash.
I opted for plastic, stackable, commercial dishwasher racks for storing items such as potatoes because it will be easier to keep them in rotation and check for rotting produce rather than digging through. They are also easier to clean than wooden crates if something does end up rotting and making a mess.
Our homestead cold room will be used part of the year for storing finished hard cheeses so we build a small custom shelving system to stack the wheels of cheddar, swiss, butter cheese, and more that will come from the abundance of our beloved dairy cow.
Finally, our homestead cold room will be put to very good use 2-3 times a year when we butcher our family’s meat. The broiler chickens were air-chilled in August, the beef hung to age for a couple of weeks in late October, the pork halves were hung overnight before being butchered, and the hams and bacon were cured in the cold room before being smoked.
Three months after completing the project and it has quickly become one of the most useful rooms in our home!
Materials for Building a Cold Room
We chose the corner of the basement to eliminate the cost of building walls for those sides of the cold room. How you choose to design your homestead cold room will entirely depend on your needs, size requirements, and existing space.
Some considerations you will need to make will include:
- Insulation– We found a deal on insulated panels but you can use standard fiberglass insulation or spray foam insulation as well.
- Ventilation– While the air conditioner will handle ventilation during use, you also need to consider creating adequate ventilation if there will be periods when it will not be in use.
- CoolBot Cooler Walk-In Cooler Controller– The CoolBot is the heart of your homestead cold room. In a nutshell, it works to alter the function of an air conditioner so you can set the temperature of the room to meet your needs. Installing and using a CoolBot is as simple as can be!
- Air Conditioner– You will need an air conditioner for the CoolBot to use to cool the temperature of the room. While it may be tempting to use an old model, an energy-efficient one may save you more money in the long run.
In the following video we will walk you through the key features of building our homestead cold room so you can get ideas of how you’d like to construct yours, unboxing the CoolBot controller, and how to install and operate the CoolBot.
Quinn and her family have been homesteading in Ohio for over 15 years, many of which she spent sharing their experiences and encouraging other homesteaders at Reformation Acres until 2018. She is the co-founder of the SmartSteader homestead management app and Executive Assistant for Homesteaders of America.
Besides raising their main crop of 8 children, Quill Haven Farm revolves around the Queen of the Homestead, the family milk cow. In addition to cheesemaking and other home dairy, the cow also provides skim milk to fatten a few hogs every year, raise up a beef calf, supplement the feed for their flock of laying hens & broilers, and beautiful compost for their 14,000 square feet of organic gardens.