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Using a Deep Freezer Shouldn't Be the Only Home Preserving Method

Updated on January 12, 2023
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Cygnet Brown is a high school and middle school substitute teacher. She is the author of fourteen books and a long-time gardener.

The Day the Deep Freezer Died

A couple of winters ago, I went out to get a roast out of my deep freezer when I discovered water on the inside of the freezer lid. I felt the food and discovered that the freezer temperature was above freezing and it was supposed to be below zero degrees Fahrenheit. On further examination, I discovered that the freezer wouldn’t turn on at all. There was power to it because the light was on, but it wasn’t maintaining the right freezer temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit. I had not been planning to deal with a freezer that wasn’t going to work. I had my week all planned out, my intentions were to get back into the routine I had established before the holiday activities. However, the freezer's dying usurped my best intentions. I have several writing deadlines that I intended to keep. I wasn’t planning to try to figure out what to do with a freezer that decided to give up the ghost during the first week of January. Fortunately for me, it was the middle of winter so I had time to figure out what I was going to do. I had to first look at my options.

I knew that I would keep the food in the freezer frozen longer if I avoided opening the freezer any more than I had to. I figured that since the freezer was outdoors and the nighttime temperatures were below freezing, I had some breathing room to find ways to prevent the food from spoiling before I could use it. I figured that I had about four days to get all of the food out of the freezer and into some other kind of food storage situation.

The second thing I did was put all the ice that I had in the refrigerator's freezer into the chest freezer. Not only did the ice provide me with more time, but it also provided me with more room in the refrigerator freezer so I could store as much from the larger freezer in that freezer as possible there. After transferring the ice to the chest freezer, I then transferred as much food as I could from the chest freezer to the refrigerator freezer. I put what I considered the best cuts of meat into the smaller freezer.

Immediate Use of the Food in the Freezer

Next, I decided what the family would eat for the next several days. I decided to eat as much meat, vegetables, and fruit as we could for the next several days from the freezer, rather than eating fresh or canned food. This way I would maximize what I could use out of the freezer. I then tried to find friends with freezers to store the food for me. Unfortunately for me, every one of them had freezers full and overflowing; I would have to find some other way to deal with the food thawing in the broken freezer.

Another thing I decided was that I would do was to share some of the food with my church group. For our Wednesday night get-together, I brought two pies and whipped cream that had been in the freezer. I put a large turkey in the refrigerator to thaw to serve to our church group for Sunday dinner. With the turkey and that much fruit out of the freezer, I had taken care of a quarter of what was in the freezer. The question now was: What was I to do with the rest of the freezer's contents?

Preserving What We Could Not Eat Right Away

Next, I looked at my options for alternative ways of storing the food. I have a food dryer so I dried many of the bags of vegetables I had in the freezer. I also have a pressure canner. That was truly my lifesaver, or at least my food saver. I canned for almost the whole week. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have the skills involved in drying or canning my food. What I do know is that it was not wise for me to have been so dependent on the freezer for food storage.

Not everyone has the skills that I used that week, but I know that if anyone intends to have perishable food for more than a week or so, a freezer should not be the only option that anyone uses. I recommend that anyone wanting to store large amounts of food should learn how to can and dry as much of their food as possible. As I learned the hard way, freezing is not the ideal food preservation method.

Lessons Learned from this Experience

The first thing that I learned was that counting on one form of food storage, especially in a freezer is not a good food storage plan. It makes more sense to use several different types of food storage that way if one way fails, there are several ways to store food.

The second thing I learned was that I didn't need to buy another freezer. I had enough room in the refrigerator freezer for the food that I wanted to store that way. If something happened and the electricity went out, I would be able to deal with that smaller amount of food a lot easier than the larger amount. Eating or canning what was in the freezer would take a couple of days instead of a week. By not having to worry about freezer temperature that needs to be maintained below zero degrees Fahrenheit, I think that I actually have a more efficient food storage system.

Summary Of Lessons I Learned from the Experience

There are several things that I learned from this experience with this deep freezer that no longer functioned.

  1. A deep freezer doesn't last forever and when it breaks down, there is a lot of food to deal with all at once.
  2. I prefer some foods preserved in certain ways and other foods preserved in other ways.
  3. Meat (particularly beef and pork) tastes better browned before it is canned.
  4. Dependence on one food preservation method is not good. Learning several different types of food preservation methods increases the likelihood that all my food will be ruined all at once.
  5. Canning preserves a whole lot more food at a time than drying in a food dryer does.
  6. Calm rational thinking, no matter what the emergency, will help create answers to the problems facing me.

2023 Update

Since I wrote this article, I have had two more times when my freezers have gone on the fritz and I put some in my refrigerator freezer and have had marathon canning sessions to preserve much of the food in my freezer.

The most recent was just the other day (January 2023) when my freezer filled with meat and fruit no longer functioned. Having a backup plan to prevent spoilage is especially important today with the cost of meat being what it.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2012 Cygnet Brown


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