Saturday, October 9, 2010

Harvesting through the freezer

I am very protective of our freezer. We bought this johnny nearly 18 years ago.

It is a front door opening kind of unit, not quite half the height of a fridge. It probably has a quantity like 3 cubic feet or something but I haven't any idea anymore. I paid $50.00 for it from a young couple who were taking their two babies and driving out west to start a new life.

Some years our freezer has stayed unplugged especially when the kids were little and it took all my energy to just deal with right now, let alone next month. During Hurricane Juan, I was in a total state of panic, we had just put in all kinds of frozen blueberries and would lose them if the electricity didn't turn on soon. We shoved in ice packs and ice bags and wrapped it up and 8 days later when the lights came back on, we still had frozen blueberries.

I would not have done that with meat, just in case you think I'm completely bonkers.

As we have been challenging ourselves with the hundred mile diet (more on that in the future) we have been learning to use our freezer most creatively. We don't freeze any meat in that unit, we put in broccoli, cauliflower, blueberries, green and yellow beans, rhubarb, asparagus and in the late winter we stock pile some cider for Steve's drinking in the summer. We also put our soup stock, chilies and spaghetti sauces in there.

This summer we expanded our freezer contents to include corn and we have concluded that last winter's experiment with tomatoes was a great success. This summer we put in a pint of peaches to see if the skin will peel off as easily as the tomato skins do and what the texture and flavour will be like.

Where the freezer really makes it's presence felt daily is upstairs. We have the usual fridge size freezer and in the door, in little wooden pint boxes we have frozen parsley, dill, basil, sage, marjoram, onion greens, roasted red peppers, roasted egg plant and celery.

I written about the celery on an earlier blog. The remainder of the frozen herbs make the winter local food restrictions more than bearable. It makes the root vegetables and the frozen products from downstairs simply delicious. The roasted red peppers are by far the best bang for the effort there is. On the barbeque over the season when they are available, we roast extra peppers, and pop them into snack size baggies. Then whenever we want a nice deep tone to a soup or a dish or even an omlette, out come a few slices of red pepper and bingo.

In this freezer we pop any meats that we have bought at the market. They are usually used up within two weeks of purchase except for the pepperoni and barbequed sausages. Those get used up more slowly but keep their flavour nicely. This is where we store any doubling up of recipes that we have made, there is usually a reason to double a recipe, such as taking something to a potluck, so those don't reside in the freezer for long. Steve also stores extra loaves of bread. He and Phoebe have an exchange program worked out. He bakes her sour dough bread, she bakes him scones. When ever Phoebe has time to make some scones, she trades him.

Apparently the energy efficiency of freezers hasn't changed much in the past 20 years, if the seal on the doors is good, then it is about as efficient as research allows. I figure that we save a ton of money by owning one of these. The electricity burn is compensated for by the reduced consumption of shipped in food stuffs over the winter and spring. Our winter eating is very, very good. It helps that Steve likes to cook because if it was left to me, the menus would be pretty ordinary. Even so, the quality of anything I toss onto the table (if I haven't burnt it because I was reading a book) is much higher than anything I ever tossed in years gone by.

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