extra freezer (good in theory or good in practice?)
- eLizard Apr 20, 2007 08:11 AM
i'm thinking about buying a freezer to put in our cellar. i understand that, in theory, this can save me both time and money by buying in bulk when on sale and cooking large quantities for use later. but does it work in practice, or will i forget to defrost or forget what's in there because it's not in the kitchen?
and what kind to buy? is upright preferable to chest in order to see all the items easily?
thanks in advance!
I am EXTREMELY happy to have an extra freezer in our basement - we use it a lot. There is a risk of forgetting you have certain things in there, especially the non-staple items (e.g., I know there's likely to be extra boneless chicken breasts or Italian sausages; I forget that there's a pound of some specialty sausage that we got as part of a mixed order from New Braunfels Smokehouse.)
I've tried to get into the habit of taking occasional freezer inventories, and of crossing things off the inventory when we use them - I admit that I'm not entirely efficient at this, but it does help.
Ours is a very old upright - it probably is a bit easier to see what's in there, but my understanding is that chest freezers are far more energy-efficient. Again, keeping a list of what you've got would probably help a lot, and if I had a chest freezer I'd probably just tape a copy of the list to the lid, to annotate and to refresh my memory of what's in there. (Way easier with a flat surface to write on!)
Very good in practice in our house. We buy in bulk and stock up. Our chest freezer isn't huge, but big enough to store a good amount of stuff for the two of us. I can also keep my inserts for my ice cream maker frozen at all times this way too.
Allstonian has a great idea about keeping a list of things. It's a great way to keep track of what you have in there. Also, make sure you label all your packages and date them, that way you'll know exactly what's in each pack and how old it is.
Upright is more convenient if you're going for a big freezer. Also double the price almost. But it saves you from having to dig through all the stuff on top to get to the bottom. Again, because our chest freezer is small, we don't have that much of an issue. I have to dig a little, but not much more than I would have to with an upright.
It really depends on how much you think you will use it. If you feel you'll fill it up on a regular basis and it will save you money and trips to the store (I hate grocery shopping!), then it's definitely worth it. Like anything else, you'll have to get used to remembering to get stuff out of the basement to thaw, but I don't think there will be much of a problem, considering if you can't find it in your regular freezer, you'll most likely just head downstairs and grab it right then.
I love it. I actually just have an extra fridge - when I got a new fridge, I put the old one in the basement. I can't store as much as a dedicated freezer, but in return I have plenty of room for beer, and when you're entertaining you can move stuff you don't need to the other fridge to make room.
I'll echo Allstonian's comments that it can be tough to remember what's in there. Keeping a list helps. I also label and date everything so I know what it is and how old it is.
One thing that helped us immensely is making sure we look in there when we prepare our shopping list each week so that we use stuff we have.
A vacuum sealer is also a great complement to an extra freezer.
Here here! A vacuum sealer will keep the stuff in your freezer around for ages without deterioration. Otherwise, you just end up cleaning out the freezer every few months and throwing away stuff that you can't recognize.
I use my extra freezer to take advantage of seasonal items and I eat better (and cheaper) because of it. From fresh picked blueberries to wild Alaskan salmon, it's available year round because of the deep freeze and the vacuum sealer.
Chest freezers are more energy efficient.
We have an extra fridge, too, as a matter of fact! We bought a small dorm-type fridge two summers ago that lives in a corner of the dining room and usually holds nothing but beer and soft drinks. Not only does it relieve the main fridge because we don't keep any beverages but milk and juice in there, but when we're doing parties or Thanksgiving dinner it's great to have overflow storage for pre-cooked dishes and the like.
Labeling AND DATING individual packages is essential, as others have noted, but that doesn't really help me keep on top of moving through things in the basement freezer as much as the separate list and regular inventories do. As the OP speculated, it's easy to forget about what's there besides the basics because it's inconvenient. (As a matter of fact, I'm overdue for another review of what we've got downstairs...maybe Sunday!)
BTW, we also keep at least one of our ice cream maker inserts in the downstairs freezer as well - both when we can, but sometimes it gets too crowded and one of them has to move out.
We have a dorm-size refrigerator in our laundry room (no room for anything bigger right now), and it amazes me how much difference it makes! I can pack it full after a weekly shopping trip since I'm not in and out of it all day long, and I can let it get empty before a big event so that I can store food that's prepared in advance. It's not so big that it gets out of control (at least ours isn't), and it saves the hassle of keeping the extra milk, OJ, etc that we need for the week in our kitchen 'fridge.
I'm still dying to have a freezer, though.
Yes a chest freezer is more efficient, we have a large one and you can save a lot by buying in bulk, but my wife and I almost always go crazy trying to find anything in it. Most times we have to pull out half the freezer just to find something and some stuff gets so burried that we forget we had it in there. I would never buy another chest type, our next will be a large upright that is also frost free.
Extra freezers do come in handy, but if you are going to put it in a low-traffic area and not open it every day I would sugest investing in a cheap ($10) freezer alarm just in case a breaker trips or the compressor fails. My parents lost a whole freezer worth of food that way when I was a kid. I agree with the vacuum sealer comment earlier, they are fairly cheap and will keep frozen food in good shape for a VERY long time. Vacuum sealed items can also be thawed out very quickly in a bowl with cold running water if you forget to take them out to defrost the night before. I also suggest writing the date an item is added to the freezer on the package (as well as what it is) so you can be sure to pull the oldest stuff first.
Our principal refrigerator in the house in Nashville was a '30s monitor-top with a freezer compartment just big enough for two ice-cube trays, so we bought a small chest freezer as a necessary backup. Here in Pasadena we have a regular-sized fridge with a top freezer, the monitor-top is out in the garage...and once again I'm needing an extra freezer! The simple reason is that I'm cooking a lot more stuff that is best made in quantity - gumbo, braised short ribs, stews and the like - and I'd rather freeze the surplus than eat the same thing all week. I would also like to be able to take advantage of meat/fish/poultry sales, and freeze the stuff either in cooked form or as vacuum-sealed ready-to-cook items.
Although a chest freezer is harder to get stuff in and out of, and it's harder to keep track of what's there, they tend to be cheaper to buy than uprights, and much cheaper to run; they also retain cold better in the event of a power outage. I agree that keeping a log of everything in there and religiously labelling everything is essential.
I have both an extra freezer in the basement and an extra fridge in the garage. (Both hand-me-downs.)
We almost never run the freezer, but we generally have the garage fridge on all the time. We keep mostly beer and frozen meat in there, especially when I go in on a share of pork or beef with my crunchy mom group. One fifth of a steer takes up a lot.of.freezer.space. But not enough to justify running the freezer. We also quickly run out of room in the kitchen fridge at Christmastime, when we're having a party or out of town guests.
I would probably run the freezer a lot more if I didn't have the second fridge, but if I only had the freezer and not the garage fridge, I'd have to smash all the fridge food into too little space. If I got rid of one, it would definitely be the freezer.
I would tend to hit Craig's list rather than buy a new one, personally.
I have both a fridge, freezer on top, and upright freezer in the garage. Damn those side by side refrigerators. Never enough room in the one inside. My mom always use to have a fridge and two freezers in the garage an upright and chest. Down sides is they are not earth friendly. They use up a lot of energy in the hot garage and if the power goes out for more than a day you are screwed if you have a lot of high priced meats in there.
You are right that freezers do use a lot of energy so you should factor that cost in when deciding whether to buy one.
You can cut that cost by keeping it completely full. You don't have to keep it full of food however. As you use things, fill jugs (empty milk or 2 liter soft drink bottles) with water and pack the empty space. The freezer doesn't have to work as hard to keep everything at an even temperature and in the event of a power outage, the contents of the freezer will stay frozen much longer, as much as several days - as long as you can resist opening the door to look at it. What good does that do anyway? Things thaw more slowly and you'll have a chance to salvage much more food.
We have an upright, frost-free freezer, 18 cu ft. which is kept in the garage. It's a godsend. We keep it pretty full, with both cooked and raw foods. The upright does use a lot of electricity, but I would never buy a chest freezer. I know I would never have the stamina to unearth the mystery stuff at the bottom. My SIL just defrosts her chest freezer by throwing everything away periodically and starting from scratch.
Everything in the freezer is labelled with what it is, and the date it was made or frozen. We cycle through the whole lot and keep a rough list of what's in it. It's a great time and money saver. I make dishes in big quantities and freeze most of it for later use. This works with soups, stews, braises, all kinds of baking. We currently have several Indian dishes (curried lamb, various lentil and bean dishes and koftas), some refritos, Chinese red-cooked pork belly, various soups and gallons of ragu bolognaise and stock. And fully baked pies, cheesecake and cakes.
The real money saving comes from buying meat in bulk. We bought a whole pig and 2 lambs about 18 months ago. We got both from local farmers so we know how the animals were raised. And we have a butcher who cut and froze everything to order. It's great quality, the price was unbeatable and we're still eating our way through the pork.
One tip DH told me - look on Craigslist for freezer bargains. He says there's almost always someone looking to give away a freezer for free or very little. I bought ours on ebay for $100. It's a commercial unit and has performed flawlessly ever since we turned it on.
One extra full size fridge
One apartment sized fridge
Two dorm fridges
I guess you could say we're pretty frigid in our house but that being said, I'd LOVE to get a REAL freezer... something that could get really cold.
Had an upright made by Sears a few years ago. It gave up the ghost about a year after the warranty ran out but it was a manual defrost model and a major pain to defrost BUT at least at defrosting time, it forced us to assess all of our "mysterey meats" freezer packages.
Frost free freezers operate by periodically turning on a heater to keep frost out, do they not?
I prefer upright, for reasons already given by others.
Wanted to add that no matter how well-intentioned, I do not keep up with labeling and dating ( I do try but have you ever tried keeping a marker available in a house with children in it? ) so every once in a while I tell myself there's no grocery shopping allowed, except for fresh items like produce & dairy. Then I force myself to cook out of the freezer and pantry to use things up. I tend to get the pantry too crowded also, and this really helps. After some days things do tend to get "interesting" but I feel good using things up and saving on the grocery bill for a couple of weeks. Wish I were more organized but I'm not and this works.
Hmmm, I guess this is a system, after all, although certainly a much looser one than labeling & dating. The point is, it can work out even if it is just figuring out something that causes you to get in there and root around routinely.
Good luck, I think you'll love having a freezer.
I have an extra freezer and couldn't function without it. I have a small upright one that fits under my counter. I store stocks, bargain buys, ice cream maker canisters, nuts, zest, flours and nuts in it. Oh yes, and pizza, since pizza won't fit into my side-by-side freezer. I didn't buy the side-by-side, it came with the house and is the most worthless design ever.
kayakado, may I ask what brand your small upright freezer is, about how many cubic ft. it holds (if you know off-hand) and how much it cost? I'm thinking of getting one of these, and so far have only looked around on the web, but there doesn't seem to be much out there, at least not at the big chains/department stores with 'net presences). The one likely model I've found is by Sunpentown, and has slide-out baskets, which seems like a smart idea (http://www.sunpentown.com/uf30cuupfr1...).
I don't know if this is an issue for you or not, but you might want to keep in mind the extra cost for energy usage in having another major appliance that is on all of the time.
I have had a small chest freezer for nearly twenty years. It is not frost free, so it uses very little electricity. I have only needed to defrost a few times, and once was when we moved. They supposedly work more efficiently when full, probably because all of the food tends to chill the other food once it is frozen solid. Ours has a built-in freezer alarm and a drain on the bottom so that melting ice water can drain on those rare times you might want to defrost it. No lectures for me on the thick ice coating -- it was a cheap appliance and it just keeps on going in spite of ignoring the frost built up. You have to love an appliance like that.
Upside: I can store pre-cooked foods for the kids, bulk meat purchases, and anything else including bags of ice conveniently. Ice cream stays really cold and most food keeps longer when stored at zero degrees. Downside: The chest is hard to organize, so I keep most things organized in cardboard boxes or wire bins (plastic will crack) so that I can get to things easily. I too keep a list of inventory and do an occasional rotation to bring food into the main house fridge from the freezer (in the garage) as I plan to cook the frozen items. What better way to keep a frozen turkey? Who could possibly have room for that? BTW, in our old house, I kept the freezer in the basement, which was a pretty constant cool temperature. For the last four years it has sat in our garage, which gets really hot during the summer, but the freezer does not seem to suffer. I thought it would, but it hasn't.
I think an upright might be more convenient. My friend's just looks like it is easier to use. But no need to worry about auto defrost from my experience. It will just run up your electric bill the same way a frost free fridge does.
I bought a used freezer chest for $50 that I keep in my garage. I couldn't live without it! I store all sorts of stuff in there, from Costco-sized meat purchases to bird food. Yes, bird food, because bugs tend to develop in stored bird food if not used immediately (or frozen : o) )
the only problem with mine is that I have to defrost it. Needless to say, it's never empty or even just slightly full. So where to I put all its contents when I defrost and clean it? I've only done that once, after Hurricane Isabella, when we had no power for 4 days and I threw everything away. But if you can a frost-free freezer, remember that stuff can get freezer burn and/or dry out if it's in there too long.
I have a bottom drawer fridge/freezer in the kitchen and an older top freezer/fridge in the Costco Room in the basement.
I may be a minority on whether you need a freezer but for the jfoods it would be overkill and here is my reasoning on why what we have works.
- There are M&M Jfood and 2 little jfoods (18 & 22). One in college and the other leaving for college in the fall. So for the past 4 years there have only been three usually in residence.
- Lots of grocers in the area, and good ones. Dinner each night is chosen daily and purchased fresh and cooked w very little leftovers.
- The jfoods do not like buying food and freezing in the raw state. We enjoy making a big pot or braise of somethin (soup, sauce, brisket) and freeze in individual portions, but buying a side of beef (yes we have done that thank you very much) is not on our radar
- For the longest time, we threw away too much previously frozen stuff.
So the kitchen freezer has the normal weekday stuff and the downstairs freezer has the long-term frozen, including some bolognese, lasagne, sausage and peppers, pigs in the blanket, canneloni, dumplings, etc. These are stored vertically, which allows for greater access and capacity. An inventory list is a great idea because there is nothing worse than dreaming of Hazan Bolognes on the drive home only to find you ate the last one two weeks earler. We whittle these down and re-stock.
A foodsaver is absolutely essential and ingredients and date marked with a Sharpie pen is the way to go. Not looking at those ice crystals is a real pleasure. Like others I keep the ice cream insert in the freezer at all times.
So for the jfoods, we have considered a freezer and have decided against. We have a better handle of not OVERSPENDING at Costco or at the local grocer without one.
It's good that works for you jfood. Not for us though. I hate to shop. Really hate it. So an extra freezer works just great for us. We've yet to throw away any frozen items, because we don't go overboard at Costco, but buy what we know we will use in the next few months.
I think it all comes down to the plans of the person using the freezer. Mine comes in handy for a number of things besides meat/bulk costco items. I can keep both ice cream bowls in there at once. I can make a bunch of fresh pasta on a weekend and freeze it all without cramping my regular freezer. I store all of my meat bones/carcasses in the extra freezer for future batches of stock and I store all the stock I make in there. I could never fit all that stuff into one fridge/freezer combo, or even two.
It's worth it to us, but only because we use it, and we use it well.
Yup QB, a po-tay-to vs po-tah-to sorta discussion.
If I had a full freezer, my girth would approach its girth.
Question I've always had, if you freeze all the bones before making a stock, then you roast, boil skim, reduce, etc, can you then re-freeze the stock since come of the ingredients were already frozen?
And I like to keep a large supply of food on hand -- that way I don't have to get out in the mess of weather, or worse the crowds 'before the weather sets in', etc... PLUS, has really come in handy when our budget was tight -- we were able to keep our other bills paid because our grocery bill was nill as I had stocked up. As for worrying about it going to waste, I have 4 kids and I rarely throw things out of the freezer (well, sometimes fish we've caught and let get too old)... and is so full, I don't worry about power outage because will keep it's cold for a few days -- and if it goes beyond that, I can set the stuff outside!! Anyway, fresh is wonderful, but I am a total believer in food storage.
"A foodsaver is absolutely essential and ingredients and date marked with a Sharpie pen is the way to go. Not looking at those ice crystals is a real pleasure."
I couldn't agree more with the above, and to facilitate that process, my Sharpie lives in the vac channel of the FS, which lives on a counter near but out of the way of the food prep area.
A separate freezer (upright, frost free 22ish CF) does fit our lifestyle and more than pays for itself in food savings. We are fortunate to have land for a huge garden every year...I freeze about everything we grow and can cook 'fresh from the garden' year 'round. We're also blessed with avid hunters/fisherpersons in the family.
Can't imagine our life minus a large freezer, it's almost always full..and when we (rarely, thank the lord) have a power outage, that's the first thing we plug into the generator.
My 6 (approx) cubic foot chest feezer uses about 250 Kw/h per year. Which works out to about 21 kw/h per month. That could give you a good idea of what you'd pay per month if you know how much you are charged per kw/h by your electric company. Of course, the larger ones probably use more energy, but of course, I'm speculating. The 6 cubic foot one works just perfectly for our household.
QueenB, are those figures from the factory tag provided by the manufacturer at time of purchase? They strike me as very efficient, and it would be really neat if they were indeed that low. Where did you get the figure?
KW hour in my area costs roughly 10 cents. It's rarely broken down for you on the bill, but the "total KW hours used" is always listed, since it's the figure they read from your meter when they climb your fence and use binoculars to view the meter and cause you to mistake them at first for a Peeping Tom.
That's from the factory tag. The thing is pretty efficient though, as far as I can tell. In the months that we had it, there has been no noticeable change in our electricity bill.
If I had to guess, I'd say it may cost us an extra 2-4 dollars a month, no more than that.
And don't even get me started on the meter readers, considering ours mis-read and they overcharged us 1000 kw/h one month. What a fiasco.
15 cubic foot Kenmore chest freezer, been running like a jewel since 1987.
Basal metabolism rate for household is $40/month in temperate months with no AC or Electric space heaters.
Lots of good ideas above: mandatory labeling ( month/date is sufficient ). Make labeling a quick troble-free process. We use two formats:
1) Sharpie (kept from kids) used on quart ziplocs, folded and rolled and air-expuinged (close zipper to 90%, squeeze out air, seal the zip) to mimic the more expensive sealer system. Gallon Ziplocs (no need to buy "freezer weight") to hold batches of many quart zip "recloseable sandwich bags". Label needed only on the master gallon ziploc. Re-use the unsoiled master gallon ziplocs with a Sharpie cross-out of the previous item.
2) Jars and square/circular preformed containers: Buy some "freezer tape", and use a 2 inch strip on the jar/container lid to label, with pencil. Peel off tape before washing lid..
Managing the freezer:
Keep a list, with data fields for in, out ,gone. Hang from freezer, with pen on a string.
Use Milk crates for storing food within chest freezer, grouped by genus. Easy to lift out and inspect. Local schools are a good source for these crates. Just as modern America has freed itself from the fear and guilt of the removal of mattress tags, so do milk crates circulate to those who seek them.
Placement of chest freezer: right next to the washer/dryer. It is a marvelous ironing board when draped with a towel But, my laundry is only 12 steps from the kitchen.
Elevate the freezer on scrap 2x4 lumber floor rails, to facilitate heat discharge from the refrigeration cycle.
Proportional law of productivity: The closer your freezer is to your kitchen, and the better the workspace surrounding the freezer, the more it will be used.
Benefits of chest versus upright: 1) Therma / kwh efficiency. (cold air sinks and does not escape when opened). 2) ability to load with cookie sheets for freezing items for flat and quick.freezing. The more space between items, the better it freezes.
Store ice cubes in reusable ziplocs in gaps and crevices to keep the freezer full, but quickly modifiable when incoming items call.
A freezer invites the component of "planning ahead" into your home economics. If you don't plan, you'll lose stuff. If you do plan, you'll save bucks.
Wonderful in practice. We have a half-size freezer we keep on our urban patio. It holds half a pig. =)
I have 3 freezers, actually. A side by side where I keep convenient foods and ice cream. then I have my lovely upright I've had for years . this last year we bought a chest type freezer as we butchered a 1500 cow and had to! (and have always wanted to do this, just didn't get around to it until I HAD to. Now, I keep beef in the chest type (plus the bottom two shelves in my large upright as our chest type didn't hold all the meat)... but will use the upright now mainly for veggies from the garden and 'other meats' -- until I get room in my chest type -- fruits, and meals I make when I do my 'OAMC' (once a month cooking).
As for losing stuff, if you inventory stuff as you put in there, and check off everytime you take out of there, it is really nice!! Have fun freezer shopping. My favorite is the upright!! Would have the chest type only if I was butchering and had lots of meat to fill it up.
Upright manual defrost deep freezer kept in the basement. I bought this one (Kenmore) specifically because it gets cold enough to quickly freeze things -- indeed it gets cold enough to freeze my sushi fish to kill any parasites. Very few home freezers do.
Organization is a problem; more so since these days as I have trouble getting up and down the stairs -- my darling wife and daughter aren't as fastidious as I am, and I'm not. Fastidious, that is.
I was in the restaurant business a long time, and actually find it easier to make large batches of stuff and freeze in serving sizes. (Even sushi rice! Take that, purists!) I have lots of ice packs in there, giving the advantages already noted. I do usually label and date, but not list -- I really should, but I've survived a long time without doing so. Ain't gonna happen.
We have a full size upright freezer in our kitchen and I *still* covet another freezer for my long term storage stuff: Stocks, bread dough, ice, I want to buy a side of pork and of beef, whole organic chickens, etc.
I visited a Restaurant Depot in Pasadena, CA last winter. It was amazing! Like Costco on steroids! Their walk-in freezer section is so big, they have piles of thick coats by the doors for you to wear while you're in there! I saw whole pigs! Whole pigs! Man, after watching "No Resevations" and seeing the joy in AB's face when he ate roast suckling pig, that's my next big goal.
Right now I'm in a stock-making binge. I'm truly my mother's son because I'm uneasy if, God help me, I have less than 10 gallons of anything. The President's morotcade could break down outside our house and I'll need to feed him, the First Lady, and all those Secret Service types! Arrrgh! Must...not...run...out!
I love making stock (yes, it's a pain in the ass but I like it anyway, it's my version of gardening or golf) and I've already gone thru over a gallon in less than two months. So, this means I must have at least TWO gallons frozen in individual zip-top plastic bags (1, 2, 3 cup sizes) for my chicken, fish, shrimp, beef, smoked pork, vegetable, mushroom stocks.
Because I know the president won't just want stock-flavored entrees, I'll need demiglace, too! ROFL.... Yeah, I'm crazy but I have fun.