Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Houston we have a problem

My freezer is stuffed. Now what do I do?

As you can see, the freezer is full. The top shelf is all cookie dough and sweet bread. The second shelf is yogurt starter, pie crust, friendship bread starter, and rolls. The third shelf is jars of soup topped with more bagels, buns and rolls. And the bottom shelf is mostly fruit from earlier this spring. The only other thing down there is Daddy's frozen peanut butter cookie dough. They're be hell to pay if anyone but Daddy gets those - so they've been segregated from everything else. Oh, and the door is all butter up top and soups the rest of the way down. What's a girl to do?

I had no problems last year when my local eating experiment was only veggies, honey, eggs, jams, etc. But when I added local fruit to the experiment this spring, I knew that I would have to stock up for the winter.

Dave and I have talked about it and we're playing it by ear for now. I suppose I can eat more of that soup to make room for some more frozen fruits for the winter, but I like having a supply around in case I miss a week at the farmers market. I suppose I can hold off on making any more breads and buns for a little while (whimper, whimper) until we have space issues under control. I suppose if I really tried, I should be able to get a few gallon bags of peaches in there. And soon pears will be abundant. Those I'll have to can anyway, which is good, because I have plenty of cabinet space. The serious issue, and the real tragedy here, is that when we get our free ice cream maker attachment for our super-cool, ultra-mega mixer, there's no room for it in the freezer. Now, where I come from, that's just unacceptable. 

Dave and I have been looking at freezer options. Maybe put a small one in the garage? We even went to visit it at the store. It's was nice. Five cubic feet - not too big, not too small, but it doesn't have an energy-star rating. Well, poo. Thankfully, if we do decide to get a freezer, we have enough extra points on our credit card account that we can get it for free if we shop at Home Depot or Sears. Sweet!  The other option is to buy a pressure canner. Then all those soups that are taking up so much room could be put on a storage shelf somewhere in the pantry. 

So what does everyone else do? Do you mostly can instead of freeze? Is your freezer big enough for your family's needs? Do you have an extra freezer tucked away in the garage? Or do you only buy what you need each week?

15 comments:

CFM said...

I feel your pain! We had the same questions a few years ago.

Fresh fruits and veggies are GREAT...but those flavors won't last all year unless you preserve them somehow. We both freeze and can our produce and breads. We have found (at least for our family) that we like frozen tomatoes and fruits/berries better than canned ones. However, we enjoy jellies and canned beans.

Without our 2nd freezer we would be lost!!

Katy said...

My parents have a second freezer. My dad,(whoes an old Aggie) hunts so they need it to store all that meat. They can live off of one dear for months! You can imagine they would have room for nothing but meat if they just stuck with one.

Green Bean said...

We have a second small freezer in our garage. I filled it to the brim last summer/fall. It has sat empty since mid-winter when we ate through everything, which I guess means that I didn't make enough! I had it set at the lowest or second lowest level and as soon as I could transfer the remaining contents into our fridge/freezer, I did that and turned off the freezer to save energy. I'm not sure I'm yet up for a pressure cooking canner. I'm still remembering how to make jam from last summer. I'll have to watch and learn if you or others get into that.

Theresa said...

Heather, sometimes I think you are my Texas doppelganger! Your freezer looks just like mine and we have also visited a 5 cu ft freezer at Sears and will probably get one that's just a bit bigger which has the Energy Star rating in the next couple weeks using our Sears points!

I'm torn about the freezer though, since it will use more electricity. I have convinced myself that when I can't afford to plug it in anymore it can be used outside in our cold climate to keep things cold but not freezing. That's my theory, anyway.

arduous said...

Heh, Heather you could rent out space in my freezer if we were neighbors! And in my fridge!! They have TONS of space in them. (I mostly go week to week or day by day. Very little in the way of food stores.)

Melissa said...

I try to keep my freezer space for only fruits and veggies, and not more than a week or so of pre-made meals at any one time. About the yogurt, I meant to ask about the starters...I always just use a bit from the last batch and am good to go. Maybe you can save some space that way?

Heather @ SGF said...

CFM - I haven't tried canning tomatoes yet, but a friend of mine has. She said it was really easy. Maybe I'll have to take the plunge.

Katy - that's what I'm afraid of. As we start running into things we find we like (and expand the challenge), that I'll need even more space. For instance, we found meat (not deer, but beef sausage) this weekend from the same place where we get our dairy and I just love it! A lot of their meats are only available seasonally so I would need to have space to plan ahead. And I don't have nearly the amount of fruit saved up to get me through winter. There's just no space.

Green Bean - My dad has offered to buy me a pressure canner. I'm thinking about it. (Actually, I think he just wants me to make the goodies so he can have some :) If I do get one, I'll let you know how it goes.

Theresa - Ooh! The 5 cu ft'er is the one we were looking at too. I looked at Sears's website though and didn't see anything that small with the Energy Star rating. Which one are you looking at? If we can find one at Sears it would be free. (fingers crossed)

Arduous - if only! I sure could use the space. Would you barter - say maybe homemade bread and jam for space? :)

Melissa - For the most part, I try to only buy what I'm going to use that week, but sometimes my dad stops by with tons of fresh goodies. Once overwhelmed with the extras, I usually just make soup and freeze it, as it would go bad before I can eat it all. Maybe I just need to start sharing with friends and neighbors and not worry about freezing for later. In reality, I can get local veggies all year round. What needs to be in the freezer are local fruits (technically I can get them year round, but I don't want to do 6 months of grapefruit). About the yogurt - Yep! I can use my last batch for the next starter so I don't have so many in the freezer, but I find that after the 3rd generation, the sample degrades. How many generations do you use before you start with a new sample?

ruralaspirations said...

We have a deep freezer in the laundry room because a couple of years back we started buying a half-cow from some farmer friends who raise a handful of pasture-raised, grass-fed, ethically treated, no-feed-lots, cows. We get a half-cow each year and sometimes some lamb so we needed the freezer. It wasn't too expensive and it sure makes up for the price by allowing us to buy in bulk! I also plan to freeze local berries and fruit this year.

I really want to learn how to can. A group of us are hoping to get together for a canning party so we can learn to make jam and can stuff together!

Melissa said...

actually I only buy yogurt from the store when we've been out of town and have none left...other than that I don't think I ever replace the starter. When you say degrades, do you mean it gets watery? That does happen sometimes to me. I find it's usually because I haven't let it sit long enough. also if it's too watery you can filter it through a fine cheesecloth - and use the watery part like buttermilk for making bread, marinades, lots of stuff. Does that help?

Heather @ SGF said...

rural aspirations - a canning party sounds like a blast!

Melissa - not runny so much as that it gets grainier/less smooth and lots more tart. Have you not experienced this after maybe 3-4 generations?

arduous said...

Heather, I would TOTALLY barter space for homemade jam and bread. It's too bad we don't live next door to each other. BTW, according to Silicon Valley Indian apocrypha, every Indian in the SV has yogurt made from a starter that was brought over from India 20 years ago. So I guess there are ways for it to not break down!

Melissa said...

arduous, LOL I have heard that too! my husband told me that when you go on vacation in India and come back home and need starter, you just go to the neighbors with a spoon and get some there...never store bought. He likes to tell me that when we eat yogurt it's part of a 5,000,000 generation old (or something) family of bacteria.

Heather @ SGF said...

Sweet! I'll just have to give it another try and keep the generations going. Do you have any special techniques? I've heard that you need to bring it up to room temperature before mixing it in with the 110 degree milk. I do that, but is it necessary? Any other tips?

Melissa said...

I don't worry about the temp. of the starter, so I don't think it matters too much. I use a VERY informal method, as follows: boil some milk in a pan. When it starts boiling (not a rapid, rolling boil, but when small bubbles start coming up) turn the burner off. Let it cool to the point where you can stick a finger in the milk without scalding yourself (maybe 12 min?) - not so cool that you can leave your finger in there though. at that point, take a dollop of yogurt and plop it in. I probably err on the side of using too much, but I figure what's the harm? it's just going to end up as more yogurt in the end anyway. I usually make about 3 - 6 cups of it at a time, and use a few healthy tablespoons for that amount. When the milk has cooled, I set my oven (it's gas, so has the pilot) to heat to 200 while I whisk the starter into the milk, for maybe 30 seconds or so. I put a cap on the dish and stick it in the oven for several hours. I think the pilot light keeps it just warm enough in there, but if you have an electric I'd imagine you could turn it on to heat once every 3 hours or so then turn it back off right away to keep it up to temperature. that's my super non-technical technique :) hope it's helpful!

Heather @ SGF said...

Thanks, Melissa! That's pretty close to what I do although I measure the temp on both ends and use a heating pad for incubation.

I've had an easy time of making yogurt over the last year but all the sudden, 3 of the last 5 times, it has failed on me. This last time, I was sure to sterilize my jars first, I went back to my old starter, and my old pasteurized milk and it finally worked. Maybe the starter sitting out on the counter while the milk cooled gave it a chance to be contaminated. Since you pull it right out of the fridge and add it with good results, I'll try that next time.

Thanks for all your tips!