Want to fill your home with excellent, farm-fresh, toxin free food? Then an extra freezer is a great investment! Here are 5 reasons why:
1) Saving and Using Extra Garden Produce:
Perhaps you are like us and end up with a bit of extra garden veggies that you just can't consume at the same time it is ready to pull of the vine. Who wants to waste that wonderful garden tomato you worked so hard to grow?
In these cases, we find we are able to use a large portion of items by preserving them in the freezer. Here are a few items we frequently add to our freezers:
At the peak of the season we have an abundance and do not want to waste a single one! If I am pressed for time but the harvest must come in, I simply wash, cut out the core and toss the tomatoes in large freezer bags and in to the freezer they go. The freezer helps us buy us time during peak season by holding the tomatoes for us until we are ready to process them. When I have a free day I pull them out of the freezer and make tomato sauce, salsa (pressure canned), or simply can the tomatoes whole for a later use over the winter. If we make tomato sauce, we bag it and put it back into the freezer. It takes up very little space this way! The tomato sauce we pull out of the freezer for our winter recipes is so much more delicious than any canned brand - and we know exactly how the tomatoes were raised that went into our sauce.
We love zucchini and there are many uses, but we still may end up with a few extras that we hate to waste. In this case, I shred them up using a food processor or cheese grater. I measure 2 cups of the shreds and put into zip-up freezer bags. They lay flat and freeze well and in the winter months, or anytime, they can be thawed and used to add to soups, lasagna or for making zucchini bread in a flash.
Purple Hull Peas
If you've never had a purple hull pea you are missing out. They are similar to black-eyed peas but with a bit more flavor and tenderness. They are best when fresh or frozen - not dried like many peas or beans. This makes them the perfect candidate for the freezer. We take them out of the shells, rinse and dry and toss into 1 quart freezer bags. They lay flat and are ready to become a winter side-dish or be tossed into stews or soups.
Green, Yellow and Red Bell Peppers
Last year we had an abundance of bell peppers. Actually, abundance isn't even the correct word because when fall hit and we started to harvest all that were on the vine before it could freeze, we ended up filling up 5 wheel barrels full. What would we do with all these wonderful peppers?? We sold quite a few but still had more coming in, filling our store building and every huge ice chest we had. So we all went to chopping and slicing and putting them into freezer bags. In the middle of winter and all through the year we can pull out the sliced peppers for stir-frys or the chopped peppers for omelets, lasagna, casserole dishes, mexican food and more. They are getting used all winter long and we've not need to buy a single pepper at the store. It's true they aren't the same after being frozen as they lose their "crispness", but this is not noticable when used in most recipes and then we look forward to eating the fresh peppers when they are back in season and in our gardens the following summer.
We also chop and freeze okra, carrots, pre-cooked spinach, and green beans each year. These are made into side dishes or tossed in stew for healthy winter comfort food.
2) Storing Meat You Raised
We have raised as many as 800 Freedom Ranger meat chickens in one season. Now we raise closer to 200 birds just for our family and a few friends. The best growing season for the birds, and the nicest weather for us to be processing, is in the early summer and early fall. So that means we need a way to stock up enough chicken that we can last through the winter months until the next harvest. A freezer for this purpose is so valuable!
We shrink wrap both whole and cut parts of the chicken, so that during the off season we can choose whatever we need all winter long and into the spring. This usually lasts us until we start raising chickens again. It's wonderful to be free of grocery store trips, but even more wonderful to know exactly how our food was raised.
3) Stocking Up On Meat from Other Farms
Perhaps you do not raise all of your own meat. We do not raise beef or pork but we know many farmers who do and we love their practices and knowing these animals were raised humanely and not filled with a lot of grain or chemicals.
We save a lot of money by purchasing a side of beef or 1/2 (or whole) hog when farmers have them in season. Generally the price for a 1/2 or whole cow or hog is a fraction of the price of purchasing just certain cuts as we need them. It's great to learn to use a variety of cuts and makes meal time more interesting as well.
We also love being able to choose how our meat is processed. For example, we ask for our bacon and sausage to have no nitrates or sugar added.
4) Storing Broth
We love having soup or broth ready when we need it all year round. Sometimes we will pressure can these items but that is time consuming and the extra heat tends to remove some of the nutrition. So we opt to store up broth in the freezer.
When I have a free afternoon I start a whole chicken for our dinner by putting in simmering water. In the evening, that chicken becomes a casserole and the remaining bones go back into the broth, along with veggies, herbs and anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric. That broth simmers very gently overnight and in the morning is cooled and quickly frozen in these bags (above photo). This takes up a lot less space in our freezer than the chicken or the bones and we have a healthy broth ready when we need it. If someone in the family starts feeling poorly, perhaps flu symptoms are starting, our broth is ready to go and can be quickly defrosted. Who wants to make broth when feeling sick?
5) A Box Freezer Is Rather Inexpensive
A box freezer isn't all that expensive. Even small, new freezers can be found on sale for $400 or less and many times used freezers can be found for a fraction of that. If used wisely, a box freezer is an excellent investment both financially AND for your health!