Wednesday, 20 August 2014

7 Ways to Free Up Freezer Space

Posted by Rosie

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?  


Post Comment Love

12 comments :

  1. Also if you have lots of smaller amounts to freeze (ie portions of soup) and only one big freezer box. Pour the liquid into freezer bags and then stand them in the box. They will freeze in brick shapes and be easier to stack and your box will be available to use again and again. I usually do six portions of soup or sauce in my largest box.

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    1. Good one Sue ... just don't do what I do and put liver in a bag then put it in a wire tray. It partly slips through the wires, freezes and becomes well and truly stuck!

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  2. yes definitely feeling freezer panic - but a good bit of freezer tetris does generate more space. I keep a freezer inventory on a massive spreadsheet - sad but useful if you have lots of freezers and lets you know if you have enough of something and to stop putting it in and find another use.

    other tips include:
    keeping your freezers free of ice
    thinking through whether something is bigger or smaller in the cooked form (a stew is probably bigger than the meat, applesauce is a lot smaller than the apples)
    I have an entire drawer dedicated to lunch items, so soups etc can be found easily.
    Bone out meat in advance - our pork took up a lot less space this year.
    Stop making so much ice-cream ( I haven't mastered this one yet)

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    1. Thanks for those CiG - I haven't mastered the ice cream reduction either although I do have plenty of willing mouths to eat it at great speed!

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  3. 8. You can always eat it down! The food, not the freezer ;)

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    1. You and the boys certainly do well at that dear husband LOL

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  4. What great ideas.....
    hahaha I play Freezer Tetris every week! I need to stop buying freezer food.

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    1. Thank you, Kim. Remember too, that if you take something out of a packet with 2 or more in it you can always put the remaining items in a plastic bag to save more space.

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  5. Great tips thank you, especially the flash freezing. I'm pinning for furure reference #pocolo

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  6. I do batch cooking and my freezer is always full. I do first in first out. When there are reduces items in the store that I know I could use I hoard this is when my freezer gets the syndrome. I dont use those boxes that food comes in with they eat space. I transfer them to plastics and label them properly to have more space. #pocolo

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    Replies
    1. Batch cooking is great and using the system first in first out is ideal. Taking bought stuff out of boxes and repacking is a great tip too - thank you.

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