THE PERFECT SUMMER CHORE
How’s it going? Are you loving summer? According to the Farmer’s Almanac, we are in the dog days of summer, which is from July 3 through August 11. And we are feeling it here in Michigan – temps in the 90s for the foreseeable future. Another reason to love a small house – Our electric bill is definitely higher in the summer months running the air conditioner, but not nearly as crazy as it was in the big house.
But I have the perfect summer job to share with you today – Defrosting and cleaning out the freezer.
We have a stand alone freezer that has been a workhorse for our family forever and we love it. It’s a commercial style, so it is not a frost free one, which on the one hand is a pain in the neck, but on the other hand, it was built like a champ and has stood the test of time.
It’s easy for something like a freezer to get super out-of-control. After all, we are supposed to keep it closed to work well. Then we shop, shove stuff in, rifle around to find what we need, and close the door again. Repeat that a few hundred times and you end up with a hot mess. Or a cold mess, as it were.
So when it’s a zillion degrees outside, grab a few boxes, some blankets, a trash can, some towels, a dish pan, a cooler, a fan or two and let’s get started.
- First, take a look at this frost. The cooling coils on this thing slowly build up this layer of frosty ice on them, and after a while they will have to work harder to keep things frozen. For our freezer, it’s an annual job to get it cleaned up. But like I said, It’s nice to stand in front of the open freezer and not be wasting electricity.
- That reminds me – Make sure to turn off the freezer for this job!
- It’s time to unload this baby – Everything has to come out, hence the boxes, cooler, and blankets. While you are clearing out, take a little time to get a good look at what has been languishing in there. If you can make any quick decisions to pitch some unidentifiable frozen brick of something, go for it. But mostly just get things out, scrunch them close together so they keep each other cold and cover the piles up with the blankets. The cooler is great for odds and ends from the door or just the stuff floating around.
- Once you’ve got everything out, bust out the fans. Strange, I know. My first thought would have been a hair dryer. But, really, the fans work like magic to thaw the frozen-ness. And you won’t have to hold it.
- (It is very tempting at this point to chisel away at the ice. DO NOT DO IT. If one of those coils gets a hole in it, even a tiny one, it’s all over and you may need a new freezer.)
- While you are patiently waiting and listening to all of the drips and pings of ice melting and dropping to the metal shelves, it’s a perfect time to sort through what has been burrowing in the freezer. (When I was a kid, my dad had a deer that he got processed, with the furry skin popped in a brown paper bag. My unsuspecting little heart almost stopped when I reached into it looking for anything other than an animal pelt!) Whatever is unrecognizable and completely covered in frost is definitely out. Anything that has a past due expiration date goes, too. Use this handy guide to know for sure what can stay or go.
- As the freezer is warming up and ice and water are flowing, it’s a good idea to have a dishpan to catch as much as possible, and a towel for the inevitable water on the floor. Enjoy this stage – It’s super satisfying to see the melting!
- When all the ice is gone, dry everything so, so good – The dryer the better. It’s also a great time to clean everything up. Have you ever tried to wipe up a spill in the freezer when it’s frozen? Not easy, and reminds me of “A Christmas Story”, when Flick sticks his tongue to the frozen pole. Same idea with a wet washcloth.
- And just like that it’s time to put things back in. If you have an upright freezer, boxes or baskets on the shelves help corral like items, just like anywhere in your home. And they will also work in a chest freezer. It just helps so dang much to find things when there is a place for them! Obviously not everything will be corralable, but the more that you can, the better.
- Turn the freezer back on. Don’t want to forget that.
- Vow to yourself that from this moment on, you will label and date things that find their way to your freezer. This will help tremendously when it comes to using your food instead of throwing it in the trash.
- If you are lucky enough to have a frost-free freezer, skip all the fanning and waiting and go straight to the sorting, cleaning, and restocking in a way that makes sense to you.
That’s it! Hopefully you get to spend a few hours (or less) standing in front of the open freezer in your bare feet on a stinkin’ hot day. And you will be so happy that it’s frost-free, clean, organized, and easy to use going forward.
And without out any creepy surprises.
Have you done this recently? Share the strangest thing you found in your freezer!