Hopefully if you are a fruit or vegetable grower you will be bringing home the harvests now and probably having more produce than you can eat. If you are freezing this excess there is a good chance you are suffering from:
FULL FREEZER SYNDROME!
|Our rapidly filling freezer!|
This can be a serious problem if you still have produce to store, but fear not, there are ways to free up freezer space so you can store more of your wonderful harvest without having to buy another freezer!
7 Ways to Free up Freezer Space
1. Flash or Open Freezing
Flash freezing is a method of freezing certain vegetables and fruit so they remain separate or free flowing instead of freezing together in a solid mass. It works well for large amounts of veg like peas and beans, and delicate fruits such as raspberries. Prepare the produce as normal, blanching if needs be and then spread them out on a tray in a flat layer. They can just touch as long as they are not too wet. Place the tray in the freezer and once frozen slide the individual pieces into a freezer bag. This way the loose produce will fit better into the freezer and you can use small amounts as needed rather than waiting for when you need to use a big amount.
|Flash Freezing Raspberries|
2. Use preformers
For "wet" produce eg stewed tomatoes/fruit etc, freezing in small plastic tubs works well but often this leaves empty head space in the tub. Therefore once the product is frozen, pop it out of the plastic tub (the preformer) and place it in a plastic bag. Now you are not freezing air and the tub can be used again to freeze more produce. The pots to the left in the photo above are not ice-cream but are stewed red cabbage and ratatouille, waiting to be put into smaller plastic bags once fully frozen.
3. Brick Freezing
If however you do not have a selection of small plastic tubs but you do have a large one you can use this method. Place your produce in the large tub and once it is almost frozen, take it our of the freezer and cut it into suitably sized blocks, freezing these in individual plastic bags.
4. Keep an inventory and label things well
The bane of every freezer owner, the bag of something unknown that slips to the bottom of the freezer and never gets eaten thus taking up valuable space. If you keep an inventory and label your produce well, you can track what you have and use up old supplies before adding new. I won't mention how I once found 7 year old Worcesterberries lurking in the bottom of our freezer .... !
5. Make soups with less liquid
If you turn your vegetables into soups and stews make them with less water/stock and add this after defrosting. Just make sure you label what you need to add.
6. Cook produce to reduce space
Some fruit and vegetables take up less space when cooked. For example stew your rhubarb or roast your tomatoes and purée them, then freeze in preformers as detailed in point 2.
7. Use other methods to preserve produce
|Bottled passata, roasted tomatoes and fruit|
Do not always think that freezing is the only method of long term preservation. Here at Eco-Gites of Lenault I bottle a lot of fruit and passata. Other methods you can use include making jam, pickles, chutneys, sauerkraut, wine, syrups, fruit vinegars or dehydrating produce. Many vegetables such as parsnips and leeks will happily stay in the ground over winter and others such as pumpkins, potatoes and carrots, using the correct methods, can be stored overwinter without the need to freeze them.
My friend at Colour It Green says she plays Freezer Tetris at this time of year - taking one thing out and trying to add two more and then spending ages trying to get everything into the freezer! I so know this feeling and all I can say is it is nowhere near as fun and a lot colder than the computer game of Tetris!
Are you reaching freezer saturation point? Do you have any other methods you have used to make more space in your freezer?