Your Storage Freezer: Food for Thaw

June 7, 2010

Probably like you, one of my least favorite jobs is cleaning out the freezer.

It’s a big job because in my line of work as a chef I need a lot of freezer space. So, I actually have three of them! Two are no bother to maintain because they are self-defrosting, but I made the mistake of buying a non- self-defrosting one to keep in the basement for extra storage and now I regret it.

Twice a year, spring and fall, I grab pails, pots full of hot water, a chisel and lots of paper towels to help me chip away at the arctic ice buildup.

The first thing I do is remove all the food and take a survey of exactly what is in the freezer. If you are like me, you discover things that are way outdated. I found bags of basil leaves from 2005! They went to the trash.

Wedged on a shelf in the back I found Christmas cookies from last year and an uncooked Thanksgiving pie that never made it to the oven for baking. That’s the problem with a freezer; you tend to forget what’s in there.

As I took out the brick hard packages, I looked at their freezer dates and if there was anything over a year, I tossed it out.

I think it is a good idea to take a monthly survey of what is in your freezer because that old curmudgeon known as “freezer burn” can sneak up on you unexpectedly and cost you cold hard cash if you have to throw out foods that have stayed too long.

How to avoid all this?

  1. Be sure to mark food packages with the date you store them and use them within 6 months to a year.
  2. Use really good heavy-duty plastic bags and press out all the air.
  3. Rotate older items to the front of the freezer as you store items.
  4. Know what kinds of food store well; for instance zucchini, green beans and eggplant will not do well and turn to mush when defrosted.
  5. Use containers like plastic, or glass.

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