Freezing, freezers, DIY
20190912 00106g, Homesteading, just one more! 5 minutes.
Winter vegetables can’t be preserved in the hot-water-bath process as they aren’t acid enough. Pickles and chutney are the only alternatives because the vinegar and sugar helps to sterilize them. Otherwise they have to be frozen, dried or pressure canned. Not having a pressure canner, and being scared of them, my next puzzlement entailed whether to acquire another freezer for the new harvest. With the current units full to bursting, if I really wanted to get the produce in season, to benefit from its cheapness, and to know what went into the food on my plate, then more cold space was needed.
After three days, and multiple spreadsheets, I figured the quantity and volume of preserves needed for the following ten months, until the local farms would have next year’s harvest available. Another freezer would represent a significant decision and expense, ’specially when the one under consideration was a big one, very big. But having produce go bad because of insufficient storage, would be stupid. Everything had to be preserved, one way or another. Even with an extra freezer, the fruit would still have to be canned. There wouldn’t be room to freeze them as well.
Not being able to have them under cover, each unit would have to be covered so rain and snow couldn’t infiltrate. It would’ve been wonderful to build a lean-to with a proper roof, but that wasn’t allowed as I was only renting the cabin in the woods. That meant marine standard plastic covered fabric for the covers – not cheap. One piece for each freezer, long and wide enough to hang down all round to cover the lid opening and the cover of the motor. They worked.
My R&R was over. Time to put the pears into jars, and by then the next batch of tomatoes would be ready for pick up. No peace for the wicked! But just think of all those wonderful meals that would be waiting for me over the winter. I had a dinner from the preserves, to check it was worth all the trouble. Trust me – it was.
When the new freezer arrived I worked until just after dark, and again in the morning, reorganizing everything in the previous freezers. In the de-frosting and reorganizing I at last got down to the bottom of each unit and found out what, in the undying words of Heloise, “had crawled into the back to die.”
At first I thought something must have burst and leaked, but then remembered that the wind had blown its cover off the top of one of the freezers which wasn’t properly shut. Rain must have poured in and got into some of the containers holding individual baggies, which then froze on the bottom. It was such fun(!) trying to separate all the very frozen baggies and identifying them. It took ages. Eventually the freezers were all sorted and ice free.
The dogs had a wonderful time chasing all the great-tasting ice I threw their way. They were hoping that I would have another defrosting session again in the very near future.
Each of the individual units now held one type of food: the veggies, main course packages, and baked goods each had their own inventoried freezer to make it easier to find something in the snow – which had to be brushed off when necessary. That was a light cost to pay to have good food for the next year.
To make sure the food would survive even if the electricity failed, which it inevitably did, being out in the woods and half way up a mountain, the set-up needed a small generator; just a little one, but big enough to handle the biggest freezer. When the electricity did go out each unit was attached to the generator for two hours in succession, just long enough to prevent them all from thawing.
My strange set-up worked, and the cost, amortized over the length of my lease, would be worth it. The food was available without mishap – until I moved back into civilization. And then the jars and frozen goodies were still available to use.