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.|
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.