Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Finally, a Freezer!

Back in the spring, we started talking about how we really needed to get a small chest freezer to put in the basement, to give us the space to store all of the rabbit meat, stock, and the heaps of veggies we're growing this summer. Never in the past have we been able to produce the bounty we are this year; for the first time we are putting up an abundance of food for the winter. Last year our garden was minimal and planted late, and we didn't have the community garden plot. The rabbits didn't come to us until October, and it took until early this spring to butcher our first meat rabbits. But now we are full to overflowing with good meat and veg. What with one thing and another, we didn't manage to get our chest freezer until two days ago, on Sunday, but now we are set up to store everything we are growing.

We took awhile to investigate the various options for freezers, not wanting to buy one brand new and pristine (i.e., expensive) if we could help it. We set a budget of $200 for a small freezer, and I'm happy to say we spent well under that. We knew we wanted to get a chest freezer and not an upright- chest freezers are much more efficient, and also, I think, a lot easier to sort and access things in. We searched all of the appliance outlets and scratch-and-dent stores in town, but didn't find anything that compared to a score found on Craigslist: a 7 cubic foot chest freezer being sold by a guy over in Oregon City for $145. It's about ten years old but in really good shape and the perfect size for our needs. Matt figured out all the logistics, driving to Beaverton to borrow his dad's van, then down to Oregon City (about 25 minutes from our house, and the official end of the Oregon Trail!) to pick up the freezer. Back at home, we wrestled it awkwardly down the basement stairs (there was a substantial amount of swearing involved) and to its place by the south wall.

I wiped the inside down with vinegar to give it a quick clean, we plugged it in, and we were able to check that off our summer list! It will add a chunk to our electrical bill (though it remains to be seen how much that will be) but will be such a savings for us in the long run, and ideally it will keep trucking long enough that we can take it with us when we move and use it for many years to come. Freezers that are well taken care of can last a long time- my parents have used the same massive chest freezer for my entire life.

While Matt returned the van to his dad's, I shifted everything out of the fridge-top freezer into the new one (once it had gotten to freezing temperature), then defrosted and cleaned the small freezer, which it badly needed.

 It looks so big when it's empty! (I also cleaned off all the fingerprints and smudges on the appliances, and have now decided that I will never again have chrome appliances if I can help it: they are thoroughly cleaned, but just these light smudges and drips have left permanent stains...)

Later, Matt sorted and shifted everything to organize both freezers. Our roommate, Lisa, eats a lot of frozen food, so all of her frozen things will stay in the upstairs freezer where they are convenient to her, along with all the ice cube trays and the things we use regularly, like ginger root (which we peel and freeze to prevent it molding), the bag that holds veggie scraps for making stock, and a couple packages of hamburger and sausages. The chest freezer will store larger containers of ice, the rest of the meat and fish, all the containers of stock, frozen berries, and all of the veggies we are blanching and freezing (sorted by variety into paper bags, according to the system my dad has always used).

Plenty of space left for more to come.

It feels really nice to have this task done, another step towards self sufficiency. The next thing to start working on is cold storage for the root vegetables. I think we'll be able to manage well with bins of sand in the garage for the potatoes and carrots and turnips, but we just need to come up with the bins and the sand! 


farmer_liz said...

How exciting to know you can now store so much more. We now own 3 chest freezers!! When we have a steer killed, it often takes up all 3 at first and then we gradually turn them off as they empty. I love to be able to have plenty of spare room to store stock, veges and fruit when its in abundance. Now you can look at buying bulk meat too, which is much cheaper.

FlowerLady said...

We bought our first chest freezer last year and love it. It is in our tiny cottage kitchen and DH made a top for it so that I have extra counter space. I love it.

Way to go and I know you're going to be glad of this investment.