True confession. I have three freezers. One in the kitchen frig, an upright in the basement, and one in the garage “beer frig.” Clearly, more is better in my culinary mind. To go with that, I might as well admit that I also use (and update) a freezer inventory. And to be perfectly honest, I pretty much know the contents of each freezer without looking at the list. This could be a testament to the success of “write it down so you’ll remember it,” but it is mainly a huge help when shopping!
I can tell you exactly when I began to elevate my freezer game. I was sitting at Chopping Block Hair Salon waiting for my hair to process and reading a copy of Better Homes & Garden magazine. The October 2009 issue, to be exact. The article, Big Chill -Easy meals, tasty seasonal produce, and budget-saving leftovers await you in a super-organized freezer” was speaking to me personally.
When I saw the illustration of a vertical filing system for frozen soups, I was hooked. My kitchen refrigerator’s freezer could not compete with the interior glory depicted in the BHG magazine.
My old upright freezer was long gone, and I was ready to begin a relationship with a new major appliance. I bought an upright model (white, no frills) at Madison’s Greves Home Center, and stocked up on plastic mini crates and boxes of quart zip freezer bags. Armed and ready, I could see a future of single serving homemade soups, home prepared stocks and sauces, and a sea of peak freshness ingredients at my fingertips.
Now ten years later, I’m continually employing the BHG soup & sauces filing method. (In a future Clam Chowder recipe post, I’ll show you how I fill & freeze soup/sauce pouches.) I also have a shelf of stocks – chicken, turkey, smoked turkey, and seafood – in containers ready at the waiting. Extra veggies from my Madison Area Growers CSA bag line the door. In the lowest/coldest part of the freezer, I have a basket of portion/project-sized vacuum sealed meat. I should probably also confess to a FoodSaver obsession… And ALL of that freezin’ love is listed in my freezer inventory, which I keep on top of my cookbooks in the kitchen.
I know what you’re thinking. OCD!!!! I like to think of it more as an answer to a freezer filled with unknown freezer-burned food and unidentifiable leftovers. You know, like frozen garbage? A freezer that you’d rather clean out than figure out? (And remember, I didn’t make all those soups, etc. at one time!)
Is this YOUR freezer? “Cause it sure isn’t mine!
Even though I didn’t discover the ultimate freezer organization until 2009, I’ve been a freeze-a-holic for decades. My love of freezers began in the early 80s when I was a stay-at-home mom of two on a very slim budget. We tightened our belts and purchased an upright freezer so we could save money buying in bulk. Retail warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco opened in 1983, but not in Beaverton, Orgeon. But more than sales at the grocery, there were three huge boons from the Pacific Northwest that jump started my freezer success.
Photo Credit: todayshomeowner.com
Oregon’s river valleys are famous for the superb fruits they produce. Think of those luscious Harry & David pears. The most amazing fruit grew abundantly right outside my door. During the summer season, I picked baskets and baskets of wild blackberries and giant marionberries for jam. What I couldn’t process at harvest, I froze. Fruit Nirvana.
- We would occasionally visit Sauvie Island for fresh peaches, pears and vegetables. Located about a half hour north of our home, between the Columbia River to the east, the Multnomah Channel to the west, it was well worth the trip. I remember buying a 25-pound bag of the crispest bright orange carrots (for $3/bag!) that turned into small bags of carrots in butter sauce and pans of frosted carrot cake for the freezer.
Chinook Salmon [Photo credit, Wikipedia]
And perhaps the rarest gift was our salmon fisherman extraordinaire neighbor, Vic. He fished nearly every weekend, caught incredible varieties of salmon, and shared generously. Born in Indiana and recently moved from Texas, we were blown away by the fresh fish phenomenon.
I also purchased a freezer cookbook when I bought that first freezer. No photos – can you imagine??? It wasn’t a pretty book, but it was invaluable during my Northwest days. I used some of the recipes, but the best parts were the book’s explanations of how to process vegetables for the best freezer results (and which ones not to bother freezing) and descriptions of almost every other food item in terms of their freezing qualities, length of storage, and freezer burn prevention. It is a well-used volume – the spine is hardly in tact – and I still refer to it now and then.
Then in the late 80s-early 90s, we moved back to Indiana and opened Main Street Bed & Breakfast in Madison. My freezer suddenly had new purpose – storing vast amounts of breakfast treats for the B&B. I cranked out coffeecakes, filled muffin tins with a variety of raw dough, and packaged bags of homemade granola. If it hadn’t been for the freezer, I would have been baking well into the night to keep the table supplied with goodness! We still make many of these freezer-friendly recipes, and I look forward to sharing them on Sally’s View in future blog posts.
I do some things my daughter refers to as #sallyhacks, and a few involve the freezer. Like freezing a bag of foil wrapped reuben sandwiches made with corned beef and marble rye brought home from Shapiro’s, our closest and favorite deli located in Indianapolis. It’s almost like being there… Or bringing home a smoked turkey leg from Cincinnati’s Findlay Market, dividing the meat into small bags, making stock from the bone, and freezing them next to the andouille sausage links, shrimp, and vacuum sealed okra. Ready to make a pot of gumbo any time! And of course, repackaging one pound packs of any of the fresh pasta from Louisville’s Lotsa Pasta into 1/3-pound bags for the freezer. Perfect pasta amount for the two of us.
There. I’ve purged my soul and confessed the motherlode of my hunk, a hunk of freezin’ love. Now that we’ve started a new year, maybe you could consider purging your freezer and joining me in freezer bliss. You won’t regret it!
#freezeaholic #icouldfreezethat #freezerbliss