Today’s post is another in a series that Fiesta Farms will run, in keeping with our newest ad in Edible Toronto’s winter issue, concerning household food waste. Check out this video, from acclaimed director Andrew Nisker for some more tips on how to reduce food waste in your home.
With the holidays right around the corner, you know you are going to end up with a lot of food. Food that needs to be kept cold until you use it, food that needs to be kept frozen, and space to keep any leftovers. Your fridge is going to do a lot of heavy lifting during the next month, so you’d better make sure it is up to the task. Now is the time to do it. Use the rule you promise yourself about your closet; if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it. Clothes may have sentimental value, food, not so much.
Let’s face it; it never seems like a great time to tackle your freezer. Growing up, defrosting and cleaning the kitchen freezer was one of the most time-consuming and onerous of household tasks, and procrastinating only made things worse. Happily, most modern refrigerator freezers are “frost free” so the chore is much less of an ordeal than it once was.
If your refrigerator freezer looks like the one pictured above, you will have your work cut out for you. Unplug the fridge, remove all contents, place a bowl of hot water in the freezer, and make a nice pot of tea while you pick away at chunks of ice/frozen matter and vow to never let it get this bad again.
But even if your freezer is frost free, chances are it could still benefit from a good cleaning and re-organizing. To be honest, the fact that a modern freezer doesn’t need defrosting is sometimes a curse in disguise as it has largely eliminated the need to have a periodic cleaning done or inventory taken. I’ll bet my bottom dollar that there are things in your freezer that you haven’t touched in a year: little mysterious containers of some now unidentifiable sauce or jus or gravy that was absolutely too delicious to throw out, a piece of pie that keeps getting shoved to the back, maybe a third of a box of crystallizing ice-cream that hasn’t been touched in a few months, two or three opened bags of mixed veggies, unidentifiable freezer-burnt bits of meat that look like they came from the set of “The Thing“.
Seriously, if you haven’t used it by now, what are you waiting for? Even though we at Fiesta Farms advocate reducing the amount of household food waste, tossing food in your freezer and forgetting about it doesn’t solve anything. In fact, overstuffing your freezer reduces the efficiency of the unit, increases power consumption and of course reduces the valuable and limited amount of space you do have. And of course, rediscovering what is actually in that frozen chest may eliminate the need to purchase another similar item.
How to go about organizing and cleaning your freezer:
1) Have a cooler ready to put frozen food in as you take it out of the freezer
2) Unplug refrigerator/freezer.
3) Inspect each item as you remove it from your freezer. If it is not labeled or you can’t identify it, unwrap it. Inspect it. If it is freezer burnt, or the magic is gone, toss it in your green bin and the wrapping in the appropriate bin.
4) There may be boxes or containers that can be amalgamated. Three bags of frozen corn? Check to see which are still good, amalgamate into one re-sealable freezer “ziplock” bag.
Do you have a box of a dozen fudgesicles that actually only contains one fudgesicle? Remove said frozen treat and toss the box. Eat the fudgesicle.
5) Once your freezer is empty, and you have determined what to keep and what to throw out, clean your freezer. Use a few quarts of warm water mixed with a little baking soda and vinegar and wipe down all sides, door, top and bottom. Dry with a clean towel, reconnect freezer to power source.
6) While freezer is chilling, label (or re-label if needed) all items and date them. Put the more delicate items such as pie shells, phyllo pastry etc away from sturdy items like meats or frozen soups and stocks. Avoid piling items around the thermostat, fans or vents; the air in your freezer should be able to circulate.
7) Finally, don’t overstuff your freezer with crap. Resist the temptation to buy thirty frozen pizzas or twenty-five pounds of frozen Ding Dongs just because they are on sale.