Spring Cleaning! Get Your Freezer Ready for Bulk Meat!
It's spring time, which means we are getting closer to our first big bulk beef harvest for the year! If your freezer is starting to look a little bare, then it's time to take advantage of it and start cleaning it while you have a little extra space. I'll give you some tips on defrosting, cleaning and organization. Also, we will talk about the types of freezers I recommend for storing bulk meat.
I highly recommend going through your freezer once a year and seeing all that you have it in and defrosting/cleaning it. This helps you make sure you are using older meat first and checking for freezer burned items that might still be good, but need to be eaten soon. No one likes throwing away meat, so it's important to make a point to pull all the meat out of your freezer and organize it so that your oldest meat gets eaten first (yes, you probably should cook those cuts that you don't really like as much).
Defrosting is the tricky and annoying part of cleaning a freezer. Typically chest freezers don't have as many frost issues, but stand-up freezers are more likely to gather frost. Also, newer freezer sometimes have automatic defrosters so it might not be necessary to defrost, but if you have a lot of ice building up in your freezer it's time to defrost. This requires turning off the freezer and removing whatever is in the freezer and allowing the ice to melt. You can speed up the defrosting process with a blow-dryer or by pouring hot water on the ice (you need lots of towels if you are pouring hot water on it). Either way, you'll be happy to have no more ice-buildup on in your freezer. This is the longest part of the process, so make sure to put your meat in another freezer or in coolers in the mean time.
Next is cleaning the freezer. It's amazing how dirty a freezer can get. Hot water and soap usually does the tricky so just clean the whole inside of the freezer and wipe dry, then turn on the freezer.
Organizing is key to knowing what you have in inventory! Now we'll talk about what type of freezers I recommend. There are two types of freezers: Standup freezers and chest freezers. We personally use standup freezers for our personal meat storing. Here's the differences between the two.
- Much easier to organize.
- Take up more vertical space, not horizontal, so easier to fit in tighter areas.
- Freezes things faster.
- If your freezer is broken or if the door gets left open it shows up quickly (puddle on the floor).
- Not as energy efficient (cold air falls out when you open the door).
- More prone to frost issues.
- Typically cost more.
- More energy efficient. Cold air settles, so when you open it from the top the air stays in the freezer better.
- Less likely to frost.
- Typically cheaper to buy (smaller sizes available).
- Can be a nightmare to keep organized.
- Bigger freezers take up a lot more floor space.
- If your freezer breaks and you don't know it, it will not puddle on the floor, so the only way you know is if you open the freezer to find you meat unthawing (not a pleasant experience!)
The pro/cons are very different on the two types of freezers, so why do we personally choose the standup freezers? I personally cannot stand sifting through and moving lots of meat to try to find what I'm looking for (I'm also pregnant right now so bending over things is extremely difficult). I am a very organized person, so the advantages of having organization compared to energy efficiency outranks energy efficiency in my books. Despite being organized I still have trouble keeping a deep freezer organized. The only time we use our deep freezer is if we have a large amount of one thing coming in (like 100 chickens that need frozen), so we'll dump them in the chest freezer, because it's faster and easier, or if we get home late from the butcher we'll throw stuff into our chest freezer and then organize it into our standup freezers another day.
On to organizing! Organizing a freezer can be a tricky task, but it's important to have the right supplies to make it most organized. What do I find works best? Well, head down to your local Dollar Store and pick up little baskets like these:
I find these baskets to be extremely handy and super cheap. Plastic, though not my favorite, is best for storing meat. I have found there is some sort of reaction with the plastic the meat is wrapped in and metal that causes the seals to pop on our cryo-vac meat. Nobody likes to go into their freezer and find the seals popped, because that means the meat needs to be eaten immediately before it gets freezer burned, so stick to plastic if possible.
I typically like to place the same types of meat on the same shelf, so all the beef on one shelf, or pork, etc. Then within the baskets, if I have a lot of one cut, I'll fill it completely full (like ground beef) and for smaller cuts I'll place them based on the type of cut, so steaks will go in one basket and short ribs, shanks, stew meat in another one. Roasts I will usually just stack up around the baskets to fill in open spaces. There is usually a fairly odd shaped section at the bottom of a stand up freezer that makes it difficult to stack products, so I'll usually put bones or frozen veggies/fruit in the bottom area. For deep freezers I would still recommend getting some sort of baskets so you can pick up and move them easily when looking for products in your freezer.
There you have it! A nice clean freezer ready for bulk meat!
Let us know what type of freezer you prefer and if you have an any organizing tips!