Should I buy a freezer?

group pollSo, this whole “blogging” thing is terribly one-way. I think of something to say, write about it, and maybe a couple of you comment on it. I’m not even really sure how many of “you” there are. It’s like being on stage and blinded by the spotlights, and only occasionally do you hear someone laugh or cough or something.

So I’m throwing this one out to you all: should I buy a freezer? I’m thinking a small chest-type freezer, mostly for storing garden veg and perhaps some meat. We don’t eat a ton of meat, but whole pastured chickens are the way to go, and they don’t fit in the fridge-top freezer very well.

My initial list of pros:

  • Would make it possible to eat local veg well into the winter.
  • Cheaper than store-bought organic veg, especially for stuff I grow. (I figure a small chest freezer costs about $4/mo to run if it lasts 20 years.)
  • Would put more variety at hand for winter produce.
  • Frozen veg is waaaaaay better than canned and easier to put up.

…and cons…

  • I’d have to do all that processing!
  • I have not yet had a garden produce enough of anything, except tomatoes, that would fill a freezer. (I can get cheap veggies from local sources, though, and would do more if I had a place to store them. Probably.)
  • I’ve done just fine without one up to this point.
  • The power goes out frequently near us, but rarely more than a day or two. (The big ice storm last January knocked us out for 3 days and everything in the fridge-top freezer was still frozen solid.)

It’s funny; as I contemplate becoming more self-sufficient and putting food up for the winter, I get a little sad thinking how much I enjoy shopping at our local food co-op. I would actually miss grocery shopping. Especially when money is tight, it feels like a splurge to walk into this little bountiful shop and say, “What sounds good for dinner tonight? You can have anything you want,” and finding some weird little ingredient to build a meal around. I suppose I can still do that; green beans are rarely the “magic ingredient.”

So what do you think? Should I buy a freezer?

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13 Comments

  1. badbadivy said,

    March 21, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Yes, you should definitely buy one. They’re not that expensive, although I highly recommend getting an energy star model which is slightly higher than regular ones. I’m ridiculously thrilled with my chest freezer, I think everyone should get one. 🙂

  2. El said,

    March 21, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I think you should. I would recommend a chest-type freezer, as they are a ton more energy efficient (the cold air does not “dump” out of them, as it does in an upright) and frankly they are quite cheap. I believe our monster one cost us around $250 three years ago from Sears. (It had the best rating on Consumer Reports.)

    As for processing, I take it as a one-day-at-a-time activity. I fire up the pressure canner nightly in high season, but it is usually running when I have dinner on the stove…in other words, I do the processing while I do dinner-making; it’s not a separate activity. Or it’s blanching and freezing, or it’s making soup or “glut sauce” that is either canned or frozen.

    The freezer has helped us buy meat by the side or quarter, which is a lot cheaper.

    Frankly, we only go to the grocery store for milk and butter, or the occasional baking item (salt or baking powder,etc.). But our freezer is full of juice from our grapes, about 50# of whole-wheat flour, 20# of rolled oats, maybe a quarter of pork, 8 or so chickens, tons of fruit and jams…you get the picture. We couldn’t live without it!

  3. TeacherPatti said,

    March 21, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Funny…I was thinking about the same thing, mainly because I was thinking of buying a cow. But, buying a portion of a cow would mean that I couldn’t buy the meat at the farmers’ market, as I like to do.

    I say–go for it if you can afford it. Local veggies at this time of year would be so, so awesome!

  4. Daisy said,

    March 21, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    DO IT. Hands down the best decision I’ve made since I started gardening. My town is full of foodies who grow things and they all say that freezing is the way to go (my mother refused to teach me how to can.. something about repressed memories of farm-life in southern Alabama.)

    As for processing, you won’t do it if you don’t have any place to put it. I gave away several pumpkins last year, but processed enough to fill a quarter of my freezer. Same for the basil/pesto (my significant other and I were a little overzealous with our basil planting.) Anyway, my answer to processing it to wait until there’s lots to be done. Then, I open a bottle of wine and go to town. By the end of the night, the entire kitchen is covered in splatters and splashes and I’m just tipsy enough to not care about cleaning it all up. I only had a couple of nights like that last year, but I’m going to be a little more ambitious this year – with something besides basil.

    Concerning the trips to the grocery store… well, I still have them. Haven’t gained enough speed to really get this living-out-of-the-freezer thing down, but that’s my goal. When I get there, I’m sure I can think of reasons to go to the store, but then it will be by design, not because I have to so often.

    Haven’t bought the quarter of bison that we said we would when we bought it… We like buying meat at the farmer’s market, too, so maybe we’ll wait until fall to get that.

    Hope this helps. Seriously, I don’t regret it for a second! (go with the energy star as suggested above. And be sure to check craigslist or something just in case…)

  5. Murph said,

    March 21, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    I’m responding on my own page. You know, to help spread the spotlight around.

  6. Archie Welch said,

    March 21, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Buy a freezer with a manual defroster. Automatic defrosters tend to dry out meats. I would also consider lacto fermenting most of the veggies for the winter instead of freezing them. No steam bathing needed and the gut friendly bacteria promotes great health. It’s what’s missing in our diet that brought our ancestors (who had no refrigeration) great health — fermented vegetables, fruit chutneys, fermented dairy in the form of yogurt, kefir, soured creams, fermented fish and meats. See article http://westonaprice.org/foodfeatures/lacto.html for more information.

  7. farm mom said,

    March 22, 2008 at 8:53 am

    go for it girl!!! 🙂

  8. Emily said,

    March 22, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Archie-

    Thanks for the tip on manual defrosting. I’d wondered why my top-of-fridge freezer seems to burn everything, no matter how I wrap it!

    I’m also a big fan of lactofermentation. After my first bite of raw sauerkraut, my whole body danced with joy and shouted, “Yes! More of THAT!” After a couple months of eating something fermented (kraut, miso, pickled carrots) every day, I discovered that I am having a much, much easier time with dairy. Whole-milk yogurt is now back into my diet, much to my delight.

  9. bob said,

    March 25, 2008 at 12:46 am

    No….
    No you shouldn’t.

    I have a nearly new one, and it sits in my basement, unplugged.
    It was plugged, but it filled up with a bunch of food I did not need that went surplus that I was paying for to keep cold..

    So,,, I ate the food out of it, then unplugged it, and I now have the freezer in my frig, and I am thinking about un plugging that.
    Strangely enough, I found a cheese in there transferred from my last freezer dated 1986. The way I figure it, why pay to put into storage, what I can mostly buy fresh at the grocery store… ? Unless you need to put up a deer, or half a beef or somthing.

    I do not miss my freezer one bit.

    And, I save nerly 20 bucks a month in electric bills.

  10. Oldnovice said,

    March 29, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I’d be lost without my freezer. In fact, I’m thinking of buying a second one.

    We went with just an inexpensive 5′ manual defrost chest number maybe four years ago. I bought freezer wrap from a restaurant supply place online and buy freezer tape from the store. Seems like stuff lasts forever in that thing. Just defrosted it for the first time this year. I keep it closed as much as possible, “shopping” from it just once/week, at which time I transfer items to the refrigerator freezer section.

    Estimated cost to run for one year = $24.00, so i’d not recommend buying one used. They’ve come a long way in design improvements to reduce costs/power requirements.

  11. Emily said,

    March 31, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    If anyone’s curious, my decision and rationale are at https://eatclosetohome.wordpress.com/2008/03/31/why-im-not-buying-a-freezer/

  12. al said,

    November 19, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    hello Emily,
    reading your bloog,relaxes me.

  13. February 15, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    One of my friends suggested I get a freezer to help me through the winters here when we get the ugly snows, and I have a problem with getting to the store. Specifically with getting fresh meats. I would have to get enough meat and frozen food to last two months. I’m thinking it over….we’ll see. I enjoyed your post.
    Barbara


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