I received an email from my aunt yesterday letting me know that our pig was ready and was headed to the butcher. When I went down stairs to look in our deep freeze I knew I was in trouble. We have 2 have large freezers in our basement and there was definitely not room for ½ a hog or the 14 whole chickens I have stashed in a freezer at the home farm that I need to get moved over here.
Luckily for me, the Handyman decided that since it was so cold outside that he would forgo his outside projects in favor of helping me unload, defrost and reorganize our freezers. Yeah! If you have ever emptied a deep freeze, you know it’s a lot of work!
We purchase our meat farm direct and we usually purchase a side of beef and a side of pork at a time. Our chicken comes from a local Amish farmer. When the chickens are ready, we purchase in bulk. This fall we purchased 24 whole chickens. We freeze a couple hundred quarts of fruits and vegetables every summer and fall. In addition, last year I started doing the majority of our grocery shopping once a month, so for us the freezers are an integral part of our food storage. Unfortunately what I have learned is it that if I don’t keep track of what is in my freezers, things get really scary in there. Not only is it frustrating because I can’t find what I want and I end up wasting time looking for it but food ends up staying in the freezer too long and gets freezer burnt and needs to be discarded. When this happens I am not being a good steward of my time or resources.
One way to keep track of what is in the freezer is a freezer inventory sheet. There are dozens of freezer inventory sheets available online that you can print and keep by your freezer or in your home management notebook. What I would really like is to find an app I can use. There are several out there but, so far no luck finding one I really like. Does anyone have any suggestions? For now I am using this printable form from Faithful Provisions. It very simple and allows me the flexibility I need.
I ended up hauling up several loads of food to cook today. I processed some of last year’s tomatoes into marinara sauce, roasted a few chickens, started a few pots of stock and made a batch of brownies from a mix I made awhile back. It was a busy day in the kitchen but it was nice and toasty warm and it sure smelled good!
If your freezer is in need of attention here are a few tips.
*Unload everything from your freezer, defrost if necessary before putting anything back in.
*Store like items together, meats, vegetables, freezer meals…..
*Check package expiration dates before your put items back in. You can find FDA guidelines for safe freezer storage here. If it is questionable…throw it away. Yes, I know I hate to waste things too but go ahead…throw it away already!
*Check package condition. Is the packaging in good shape? If the package has been damaged, throw the item away or repackage it if it can be salvaged. Package items in flat containers or lay bags flat in the freezer. The bags will stack more easily and the contents will thaw more quickly when you need them.
*Use freezer bags or freezer containers to extend the life of the product. Remove as much air as possible from the package before sealing.
* Label, label, label. Label each package with a Sharpie including the contents and the date. You can find some really cute printable labels. Here are some really cute labels from Oh My Veggies.
* Keep your inventory log handy to enter items as you put them back in and as you take them out.
Taking the time to take care of your freezer can save you so much time, frustration and money in the long run. Its definately worth the effort.
Linking back to Housewife How-Tos.