Cooking Louisiana - Buying a Freezer, mine's died!

Buying a freezer, even a small one, will pay for itself in the long run. Us "old timers" know this already, but it needs to be spoken once more.

In my opinion an upright (not a chest) freezer is the best to own. I know, when you open the upright all the cold air comes out and you waste electricity. The depression is over folks, and, I don't open the freezer twenty times a day. The upright allows good organization of foods, and, you can actually SEE what you have. A chest type freezer doesn't really allow that visual advantage. Okay, let me prove my point! Is the electricity you waste with the upright less valuable than the food you throw away cause it's been at the bottom of the chest freezer for too long cause you couldn't see what you had WAY DOWN THERE! Point made...

The newer freezers often come with alarms that go off when the temperature drops below a certain level. This feature can save you a lot of money so be sure to look for that feature. 

Buy a freezer thermometer and keep it in the freezer in plain sight.  

Mark everything you put in the freezer with contents and date! If you use hard plastic containers use a piece of masking tape to stick on the container and write on that, you can peel it off after you're done with it. Do not rely on your "perfect" memory!

Do you know how long foods KEEP in the freezer?  FSIS Web Site... this tells it all.

Old myth: you can't re-freeze meat after it has been thawed. The truth: If it has been thawed and has NEVER reached a temperature ABOVE 40F you can re-freeze it. Having the thermometer tells you this!

Think about it! How many freezers have gone out, or "died" (that means "quit working") and the contents, meat, beef, pork, seafood or whatever, never reached a temperature above 40F, yet, all was thrown away! Check this out!

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Here's another fact. If you live in South Louisiana or any other part of the country that generally is a high humidity climate you will probably have to defrost your "frost free" freezer every few years. 

Let me explain. A "frost free" freezer has a defrost cycle in which a set of hidden coils heat up for a short period of time and melts away any frost that has accumulated. In high humidity climates the amount of frost buildup is greater than in lower humidity climates. This frost accumulation is usually on the cooling coils behind the panels of the freezer where you can't see it. The heating coils will only defrost a certain amount of frost because of the timer setting (no, you can't change that). So what you wind up with is a small amount of frost and/or partially thawed frost that will turn to solid ice once the heating coils shut off.  As you can imagine this buildup continues a little at a time until the ice that has formed begins to block the air flow through the freezer. The air flow is produced by a small fan behind the panels and is needed to keep everything cold. The ice that forms on the cooling coils acts as an insulator so now they can't do the job they're supposed to do.

How do I defrost it? Get yourself some big ice chests. Put all the food in them and don't open them again. Be sure they are full are almost full of food, if not throw some ice in them to fill the open spaces. Unplug the freezer and open the door. Set a floor fan up to blow inside the freezer. There is usually a water tray under the freezer that is usually accessible from the front grill near the floor, some are in the rear. Pull it out, dump it and slide it back under the freezer. As the freezer defrosts that pan may fill with water. Check it often, dump it and put it back. 

This whole process can take 2 to 4 hours depending upon the amount of ice buildup so be patient. 

How do I know when it's all defrosted? When the water quits accumulating in the tray. When it's done plug the freezer back in and let it cool down for at least an hour before you repack it with food.

What about the food in the ice chests? It will stay frozen for at least 48 hours as long as you don't open the ice chests.

When I pulled the water tray out the first time it was full of green gook. Is that supposed to be that way? Yes if you didn't put any bleach in the pan the last time you checked it (three years ago). When you clean it the final time add about a  tablespoon (estimate) of bleach to about a cup of water and wipe the tray down with that (don't rinse it). Add about half of that mixture to the tray and put it back under the freezer, that should decrease the green gook buildup.

Here's another problem you may encounter.

You ever notice a sheet of ice at the bottom of your freezer that continues to grow? If so this means the drain is stopped up... probably with ice. Why? Same principle as above. Water droplets freeze and build up, then eventually the drain hole becomes plugged.  The defrosting of the ice plug can take some time depending on the design of the plug hole so be patient. Don't be tempted to use an ice pick or anything sharp to chip the ice out!

 

 

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