Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mr. Freeze

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and her sister.

The two of them cooked a lot. 

The church always had a Christmas Bazaar and the two of them would make all kinds of delicate cookies, candy of all sorts, and of course cakes.

My great aunt also canned fruit from her fruit trees. My grandmother and I were a part of the sous chef team. I recall an abundance of fruit and jelly in jars that would carry us through for an entire year.

I have forgotten how to can, but my good Mormon friends are going to help this lapsed Catholic jog his memory.

I recall fondly that my great aunt had a freezer that was crammed full of ready-to-go meals, homemade broth, and many other items.

Recently, I decided to start making my own marinara sauce, chicken and beef broth, vegetable stock, and green enchilada sauce. 

I did this partly because what I make from scratch tastes so much better than store-bought products, but also to eliminate as much excess sodium in my diet as possible.

Sodium is detrimental to our health and there is so much hidden sodium in the over-processed foods we buy. Now that I am cooking with 100% fresh ingredients and am enjoying the deliciousness of homemade, processed foods taste bitter and unpalatable because of the excessive amount of sodium in them.

Enough with that soapbox.

Because I am a single father of one child, I do not need massive amounts of anything, but when I make homemade stocks and sauces, I make a whole lot of it. 

For storage, my solution was to put a quart of fluid in a gallon Ziploc bag and freeze them lying flat in my refrigerator’s freezer.

Freezing flat will allow you to have more stored food in your freezer.

Very quickly, the refrigerator's freezer filled up, necessitating a dedicated freezer.

I have chosen a Whirlpool 15.7 cubic foot freezer. It will have more than enough space for my needs and the price is righter than right at just a hair over $500.00.

I chose an upright because a chest freezer simply takes up too much space for its own good. It will fit perfectly in my laundry room with more than enough clearance space for the washer, dryer, and other storage.

The interior of the Whirlpool is configurable and logically designed. Cleaning it would be a snap. I like its vision-in-white, utter simplicity.

The thing with a freezer is to keep it FULL. That way, the freezer has to run less because the frozen foods tends to keep other frozen foods frozen.

The picture above is not a good example. It's much too photogenic.

A person wants the foods jammed together so that the thermal efficiency is greater.

A trick for newbie freezer owners: fill the empty space with flats of water and then remove bottles as you put food inside to remain frozen.

People freeze water in plastic bottles all the time, so there is no harm. Besides, thawed water is the same as water fresh out of the flat.

Advice for newbie freezer owners: NEVER and—I repeat—never go from stove to freezer.

Go from stove, to cool down in the kitchen, to refrigerator overnight, to refrigerator’s freezer, and finally to the dedicated freezer.

Putting something hot in a freezer heats up other food around it and can cause spoilage.

More advice for newbie freezer owners: never take meat out of the freezer and let it thaw in the kitchen—or worse—thaw it in water. You go from freezer, to thawing in the refrigerator, to cooking.

Learn to plan ahead.

Remember to label and date what you put in your freezer because you have to cycle food through it. Food will not last forever in a freezer. It most decidedly will spoil over time mostly due to freezer burn.

Remember the mantra: new food in and old food out.

I like to take advantage of the buy-one-get-one free turkey sales around Thanksgiving. Turkeys produce a lot of food and broth, but if you havr a turkey from a year ago and you plan to use it for your Thanksgiving feast, you probably went too long.

Buy two, two-for-the-price-of-one turkeys. Have one at Thanksgiving. I welcome another at Christmas. Have one in the spring. Have one in the summer. 

Asian turkey salad, anyone?

Even more advice for newbie freezer owners: when freezing meat, one trick is to freeze it in unseasoned broth.

From time to time I will post recipes.

Cook well. Freeze well. Eat well.

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