Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why and How To Clean Your Chest Freezer

The Why:
Cleaning the a free-standing freezer means taking everything out and defrosting the freezer, a perfect time to take inventory of what you have; do this casually or write it down on paper.  I defrost my freezer when I see a build-up of hard frost on the walls and, in this case today, creeping up under the seal.

Mr. Thrift takes the frozen meat across town in the old bike trailer.  His idea.

The How:
1.  Bring a stockpot of water to boil on the stove.  (I took pictures only of the bike trailer; I was making sushi for lunch, hosting a child helper in the kitchen, fielding phone calls, and washing dishes throughout these steps.  Yes, I like a bit of high-speed kitchen chaos now and then to remind me of my waitressing days.)

2.  Prepare a clean space on the floor next to the freezer.  I put down an old vinyl tablecloth on the basement floor.

3.  Turn off the freezer if there is a control.  For extra measure, unplug it.

4. Remove all the food from the freezer.  Mine is in several milk crates and a freezer basket, so it's not too hard to lug it out.  Schlep the meat to another freezer (thank you, dear husband) or an ice chest if you're worried, but don't worry, your food will be back in the clean freezer in 1-2 hours, max.  Insulate the frozen food on the floor with a blanket or two if you wish - it will be more energy-efficient if it's frozen going back into the freezer.  Do not worry about a little thawing - the food will be fine.

I call this his pick-up truck.

5.  Set a trivet on the floor of the freezer.  Place the pot of boiling water, uncovered, on the trivet and close the freezer lid.  Depending on how thick the hard pieces of frost are, you will hear chunks of it falling onto the freezer floor with 30 minutes.  Check on the frost and tug on it if you are impatient.  Really impatient people should probably plug in a hair dryer and help it along (I don't bother).

6.  Pile the chunks of frost in a dishpan and give them to the children, the garden, or whatever.

7.  Get a towel and soak up the extra liquid on the floor of the freezer or, if it's handy, pull the drain plug.

8.  Get a bucket of water with a squirt of dish soap and a rag; extra-sanitary people wearing old clothes can add a glug of bleach (I don't).  Wipe out the freezer and if yours is like mine, there is weird unmentionable glop on the bottom.

9.  Turn the freezer back on and plug it in if you unplugged it (I don't).

10. Place your food back in the clean freezer - this is a good time to take inventory as you do.  I was surprised by shrimp shell stock and sauerkraut.

Since I counted the preserved items, I know that I only have one box of strawberry jam left.  By looking over the records in my preserving notebook, I know how many berries to order to make jam. I went ahead and did an inventory of the remaining canned jars I have, so now I can start making a list of what I want to preserve this summer and fall.

I wrote this post mostly for myself because I seem to draw a blank every time I want to clean the freezer (NOT often, believe me).  Next time, I will borrow an ice chest for the meat and Mr. Thrift will not bike it around town.


Eva Girl said...

I got this mental picture of your husband just randomly biking around town with the meat in tow...I mean I know he was headed to another freezer with it, but I just had this silly picture of him giving the meat a joy ride. He, he, silly me!

I do basically the same thing, only I do it all in the winter and just stash the food outside in the snow to keep cold.

Rozy Lass said...

This is exactly the method my Mom taught me and it works superbly. I put my frozen food in the bathtub so if there is any leakage it just goes down the drain. Hasn't happened but it's just to be safe.

Margo said...

Eva, righhhhht. Funny! He was headed to my parents' freezer :)

nancy said...

Good ideas, I'm getting ready to do the same :)

Hazel said...

I really need to clean out our freezer. I think I'll be surprised by several items lurking in there... Thanks for the prompt!

Julian said...

I have two deep freezers but with six kids it rarely stays jam packed. Thats a hillarious image in my head about your husband. What a good sport!

Zoƫ said...

I just did this two weeks ago with both of my big freezers (one upright, one huge chest). I love the feeling of getting the freezer organized, even if it only stays that way for a week!

I also love to take that inventory. I usually find a few things I forgot about and also get lots of new meal ideas to use up what's in there.

jenny_o said...

This would be a good time of the year to get this job done, wouldn't it? And I really REALLY need to. This is a good reminder.

AmyK said...

This is great. I was just thinking I should defrost the freezer before adding all the frozen summer items. I have childhood memories of helping my great grandmother defrost her enormous chest freezer. I would climb inside and hand the food out to her.

Sew Blessed Maw said...

Well, I just learned something.. [never to old to learn!!]. I have cleaned my freezers for years. But, what a fantastic idea, to put the hot pan of water in the freezer.. So much quicker, than my way.. [ Unplugging and waiting for hours to unthaw... and sometimes getting impatient and getting a knife to help pull it loose --definitely a no-no!! ha]
It is time for me to do mine, I will be using this method. thank you so much.

Sew Blessed Maw said...

ps ..For got to add... I rolled on the floor laughing at Eva's post. She really made me picture, your hubby riding this meat around town.. toooo funny.

Lewis Simpson said...

Wow. Kudos on totally cleaning out your freezer. Some people think that it’s an absolute nightmare trying to completely clean out their freezers. But I think it is important to do this once in a while to avoid any unwanted consequences. And thanks for detailing your methods in getting rid of the frost. :)
Lewis Simpson

SholaBaby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SholaBaby said...

Thank you for the tip. Ms. Margo.
It just helped me today when I decided to clean my medium sized chest freezer about a couple of hours ago after about, say 42 months of using it and the frost build-up started becoming an eyesore for me to look at apart from the fact I could not shove the basket around easily anymore.

I am a single guy that lives like having a virtual wife in the house with the way I always stock my kitchen as I cook for myself (that explains the virtual wifey) and I shop for groceries like my Momma or wifey will ask me to with some cute bargaining sense to go with it —Thanks to Momma. I used some of your idea and also with a hair-dryer to thaw the frost a bit and then just tap the little opened space between the ice and surface of the freezer with a dull edged wooden spatula and huge slabs of ice just came out each time after each hair dryer application. I could not believe how easy it was, except that one huge chunk caused a little dent on the aluminum surface of the freezer floor and caused me a few worry thinking may be it cracked or tore. And after a few moments of cleaning some stuck up frozen spinach debris and other stuffs, everything went back in… PLEASE FOLKS, DO NOT USE KNIFE OR ANY OTHER SHARP OBJECT TO RELEASE THE ICE OFF THE SURFACE FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER. :D

Thank you again Ms. Margo for your tip. It was a huge help along with the rest of those I applied.

Be blessed

Chest Freezer said...

The Why: Cleaning the a free-standing freezer means taking everything out and defrosting the freezer, a perfect time to take inventory of what ...

Anonymous said...

Right now, we're in the middle of a deep-freeze part of the winter (-20C), best time to defrost the freezer! We have a chest deep freezer and live in Montreal, Canada. Some of you may have no or little winter. First, turn off or unplug your freezer. Use picnic coolers, deep storage bins, containers with locking lids, then put them outside if possible, gallery, deck, whatever, in a way that animals cannot get to them. Keep out of sun if not winter!
If not possible to store outside in cold weather or you're moving in the summer, try using ice-packs or ice inside of whatever you are using for storing your frozen goods. For your most expensive food, maybe you have some room in the freezer part of your refrigerator or a friend or good neighbour might have room in their freezer temporarily. I use a hair dryer to help loosen the ice, then with the bottom of my fist,(not too hard) I tap the ice, resulting in it falling to the bottom. It is easier to scoop up than waiting for it to melt. Throw the ice in the sump pump if nearby, toilet, sink or outside. Next, take an old towel and wipe dry. clean if necessary and wipe out any condensation if any. When dry, restart the freeze. From other articles I've read, it says to wait about 2 hours to restock the freezer. But if your food is danger of thawing, restock sooner. Hope this helps! Good luck!

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