I just got all kinds of kudos on my writing about wildlife and the garden, so what do I do? Write more on that sort of subject?
Well, of course not! I have a completely different subject on my mind today. It was brought to mind by the chore that Jim and I have accomplished in the last couple of days. Yesterday, Jim defrosted the 21 c.f. freezer. This is where we keep our protein supplies. A while ago I traded about a year’s worth of massage for a calf, which my client raised on grass on her chemical free farm. We had it butchered, and it pretty much filled up that freezer, with some space left over for the lard, pork, lamb, chicken, and fish we also have on hand.
One of the things that I have learned over the years is that there is no such thing as an air tight freezer, and over the course of time you WILL develop frost. You can buy a “frost free” freezer, but you pay a price in the quality of your frozen goods, They stay frost free because once about every twenty-four hours they warm themselves up to a level where the frost will sublime, and vent the humid air out of the freezer. This has the effect of causing the exterior of your frozen goods to get a little warm every day plus it is not very efficient to pump all that cold air out of the freezer.
Anyway, the way we use our freezers the air tightness is moot anyway. I’d say we probably open the smaller freezer (it is only 16 c.f.) least a couple of times a day, sometimes more often. That is because we keep all the spices in there, including the pesto, grated mozzarella cheese, lots of veggies from the garden, fruit, and a lot of other stuff too varied to mention. I defrosted that freezer today, it was really badly in need of it as it had frost built up on the sides about an inch thick. We needed the space as we have been busily putting stuff into it and it is rapidly filling up.
There are 5 gallons of blueberries, 2 gallons of blackberries, a bushel of peaches, 6 gallons of strawberrries, green beans, snow peas, carrots, asparagus, roasted zucchini and God knows what all else out there.
After I was done, it looked like this.
One of the things I was making space for was plum puree I made from the Santa Rosa plums that are ripening out there. I have already made sufficient jam from this, and the puree makes a superior smoothie for breakfast. I freeze it in 1 cup quantities, and after I was done popping the blocks of frozen puree out of the containers I washed them.
You might think that we eat a lot of sour cream around here judging by the quantity of sour cream containers I have. This is not strictly true; that represents the collection of several years.
A long time ago, I used to save every kind of plastic container that came through the house: cottage cheese containers, ricotta cheese containers, yogurt containers, etc. etc. etc. I must have had at least eight or nine kinds and sizes of containers stacked more or less neatly in a drawer awaiting my storage needs. I did this because the thrifty housewife that lives within me just could not stand the idea of BUYING plastic containers for food storage when perfectly adequate containers entered the house on a regular basis and only needed washing in order to be serviceable.
The container collection used to drive me batty. You would think that a pint container that holds ricotta cheese would be the same size as the pint that contains sour cream, but you would be wrong about this. You might even think that a pint of sour cream from one brand will be in an identical sort of container when purchased from another source, but you would be wrong about this too. Seal Test sour cream lids do not fit Daisy sour cream tubs. Go figure. Similarly, the lid that fits a cottage cheese container will not adequately seal a one quart yogurt container.
When I was putting food away, scrabbling around in the drawer trying to find the right lid for the right container
used to drive me insane was mildly annoying, to say the least. Added to that was the fact that I would send a container off to work with something in it for Jim’s lunch and frequently it would come home sans its lid. Do not ask me why this happens so frequently, but there was a commercial about this a while ago that really struck home, so this is not the only household in America with this problem.
Anyway, one day after
I had thrown all the containers all over the kitchen in a rage I had been searching for an appropriate container and lid combination, I decided that this whole thing was just nuts. In the years that had intervened after I had developed the habit of saving every damned container that looked like it might be useful sometime, the concept of recycling had surfaced and it is now actually possible to recycle all plastic that comes from the store. So I didn’t have to feel guilty about throwing it away.
I contemplated the problem of food storage, and decided that a one pint container was ideal. The Daisy containers are very sturdy and have nice tight lids; they stand up to freezing well. I can testify that one of those containers will last for many years of use, and they stack very neatly in a cupboard when empty. I only save the sour cream containers, and thank heavens Daisy has not changed the style of their pint container for over ten years, so any lid that is in the drawer is the right lid.
We rarely need more than a pint of stock at a time, and if we do we can get out more than one block. If I want to freeze less than a pint, like when I am freezing one cup blocks of puree, I don’t fill the container up all the way. Simple.
Over the years I have learned that the tape you use for securing sterile gauze pads over a wound is exactly right for labeling the contents of a sour cream container. It is easy to write on, stays on while in the freezer and peels off neatly when you have finished whatever was in there. I had to find this out because it became confusing to have left over gravy or bread crumbs in a container marked “roux.” There are some things that stay in the freezer for a while and I was using an indelible marker to label them. Unfortunately, when the roux was gone the indelible marker did not wash off the lid.
Anyway, the level of annoyance has dropped significance since I realized that it was only necessary to save ONE kind of container for the food storage and freezing purposes of this household.
We probably won’t have to defrost the freezers again for at least a few months.