Underground Food Storage

by Steve

Buried trash can storage.

Buried trash can storage.

Buried trash can storage.
This inexpensive root cellar is user-friendly from its construction to its maintenance.  (Illustration: Mother Earth News Staff)

If I buried a 55 gallon steel drum in the ground would it keep fruits or vegetables good like a root cellar?


Steve, I haven't had experience with this type of storage but in researching your question, I found some illustrations (above) that may give you some ideas, but here are the Pros and Cons:


1. Underground several feet stays a constant temperature, somewhere around 50-55 degrees, which is advantageous to food storage.

2. A galvanized steel drum, if sealed properly, will keep out moisture and will not rust.


1. Water. The earth maintains a certain amount of moisture so you must know what the water table is in your area. Be uphill from streams. Never use plastic buckets as they will eventually leak and could be penetrated by rodents.

2. Water or not water. As mentioned in #1, moisture can be a problem. In places that are extremely dry (like Arizona or Nevada), the dry conditions are good, but the ground can be too hard to dig deep enough to bury a steel drum.

3. A buried cache of supplies can be very difficult to access in an emergency. And to keep the fruits and vegetables cool, the drum would need to be buried deep enough (or heaped with dirt above it) to take advantage of that constant cool temperature.

Those are my findings. Maybe you should just build a real old fashioned root cellar? Just a thought . . .

Good luck whatever method you choose, Steve. You're on the right track thinking of ways to store your food.

Comments for Underground Food Storage

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I buried a 55 gallon steel drum
by: Ollieolona

I buried 6, 55 gallon steel drums in Albuquerque NM. I worked at a plant for 38 years. We have steel drums onsite that have been around that long weathering the elements. With the lid on they still are holding up well. So I trust them. Also. I line the outside and inside of the drums with 55 gallon plastic bags. That will insure the long life. My food one I sprayed under coat on the outside for extra measures.

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