Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Freezing

One of my favorite chores is cleaning out the freezers in the barn on a really hot day. We have a chest freezer and an upright, and I try to keep vegetables and fruits in the upright and meats in the chest. Organizing the upright freezer is easy, since the shelves are adjustable and the bin at the bottom handles bags of frozen fruits that don’t stack well. The chest freezer is a different story, and I’ve tried a variety of ways to keep it organized. None have worked all that well, and I’m usually burrowing through the packages like a squirrel searching for a misplaced acorn. Lately I’ve relied on cardboard boxes: one each for pork, beef, chicken, lamb or goat (we raise South African Boer goats). That leaves the lift-out baskets for odds and ends, such as sausages.

Freezing is quick, convenient, easy, and preserves the nutritive quality of fresh foods more closely than any other food preservation method used today. Freezing requires less time and human energy, but more fuel energy than canning as a method of food preservation. Most of this cost occurs during storage, and your electric bill reflects the cost of running your freezer. Check your freezer’s temperature to be sure you are maintaining a constant storage temperature of 0 degrees or lower. Several factors influence the cost of maintaining your freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. These include: the temperature of the room where the freezer is located, frequency of door openings, size of the freezer, insulation of the freezer, amount of food in the freezer, turnover of food, and whether you have a chest or upright and conventional defrost or frost-free.

An upright freezer usually uses more electricity to maintain 0 degrees than does a chest type, and a freezer that is full generally uses less electricity to keep food frozen than one that is only half full.

Feezer burn is ugly and wasteful of good food. This problem is caused by improper packaging and temperature cycling. To prevent freezer burn, package your foods in moisture/vapor proof or moisture/vapor resistant materials that suit the kind, shape, size, and consistency of the food. Proper packaging is especially important in frost-free freezers that have a fan blowing over the food, drawing the moisture from the packages.

Remember to limit the amount of food frozen at one time to 2 to 3 pounds per cubic foot of freezer space. Unfrozen food should freeze within 24 hours. Overloading slows the rate of freezing, and foods that freeze slowly may lose quality or spoil.

Remember when you sort your own freezer, “First in, first out.”


  1. Thanks for the freezer tips. I feel like a squirrel burrowing in my freezer too (but I just have a freezer on top of my fridge, so I have no excuses! It's just disorganized...)
    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. This reminds me of the huge garden and the big chest freezer my folks had when we lived on the farm. Food sure tasted better then. Reading your blog has me more and more tempted to buy that little freezer I saw at Home Depot. And it's Farmer's Market season.

  3. Great way to set the stage for your blog - cleaning out the freezer in the barn on a hot day. Really allows the reader to experience what you are communicating.

    I didn't know about the 2 to 3 pounds per cubic foot of freezer space tip. Me, I just cram stuff in there, then pull out the freezer burnt stuff I forgot about six months later. I need to do better at organizing me freezer.

    - Steve Tremp


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~ I'm the author of Headwind: The Intrepid Adventures of OSS Agent Katrin Nissen. If you're a WWII buff, you'll like it here!