Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Cleaning out the freezers

Apparently it's become a national pastime to clean out corners during the lock downs. Goodwill and other charities have seen donations skyrocket as people examine the contents of closets they haven't seen in years.

We, too, have been cleaning out corners, more because of our imminent move than for any other reason. But one neglected place we hadn't touched was the freezers.

As often happens, our chest freezers had become chaotic and disorganized. You know how it is with chest freezers. They're more efficient (energy-wise) than upright freezers, but it's easy to pile things on top and lose track of the fossils at the bottom. So Don and I decided to disembowel the appliances, inventory the contents, reorganize as needed, and discard the unneeded.

After a great deal of effort, we sorted the freezers so that one is dedicated to meats...

...and the other to everything else.

I also took out a large number of random bags of...stuff. Fossils. I have a baaaad habit of frugally bagging something up for future use, but not labeling it because of course I'll remember what it is. If I'm so clever, why the bleep don't I just label things?

With a few items, I actually did identify what it was. Wasn't this clever of me? Why can't I remember to do this all the time?

After defrosting the items just enough to identify the contents, I sorted everything for canning. For fruits, I had a bit of peach purée, some juice from our cherry bushes, and miscellaneous raspberries.

I had enough raspberries that I thought about making jam. I'm a highly experienced canner, but jams and jellies are beyond me. Why? Because I don't like them (too sweet). But what else could I do with the raspberries? So I bought some low-sugar pectin and prepared to make raspberry jam.

But after reading the intimidating instructions...

...I changed my mind. Why should I go through so much effort to make something we wouldn't eat anyway? But I didn't want to waste the wonderful raspberries. In the end, I simply packed the berries in jars and canned them in a water bath, along with the peach purée and cherry juice. I like fruit purée in yogurt, and raspberry purée is perfect. Easy peasy, problem solved.

For meats, I had beef gravy, sweet and sour meatballs, and teriyaki pot roast. I divvied everything into jars and pressure-canned the lot. Meats are always pressure-canned for the same amount of time, so I could mix-and-match jars without a problem.

Now our freezers are better organized, and I have a few more jars of preserved food in the pantry. Not a bad project.


  1. Ahhh Beef Gravy, dumb me misreading the lable. I was wondering what the heck was bed gravy.


    1. I read it the same way at first. Hee hee

  2. We have a much smaller chest freezer. We compile things like beef, cheese, chicken, vegetables, fruits in bags and stack them in the freezer. When we need something we can pull out the bags till we get what we want then reload the freezer.

    Country Man

  3. Ah, the wonder of Mystery Meat in the freezer...

  4. Hi Patrice,
    I have been making low sugar jam for most of my life. My mom first experimented with it when I was a teenager, and I took it from there. Making jam, kind of like soap, isn't rocket science, it's just a bit of chemistry! You need a balance of water, pectin, acid and sugar to make a gel. Take out some of one, add more of another. I take out lots of sugar, and add more pectin and acid. Raspberries are a good first try because they have a good balance of natural pectin. But the easiest and most used is for strawberry. Start with Frozen Strawberries. 7 cups mashed up. 1 package and 2 tablespoons of extra pectin. 1/2 cup of lemon juice, and 7 cups sugar. Add an extra 1/4 cup of sugar to the pectin and add it to the mashed strawberries. Add the lemon juice. add 1/4 tsp of butter to keep down the foam. Bring all this to a boil on med high heat stiring all the time. Then add the 7 cups sugar. Bring this back to a good rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Then skim, ladle into jars and I use the inversion method of sealing. Hot product into hot jars with hot lids(I have used tattlers too) and there you will have it. Strawberry can take up to 3 or 4 days to gel, but most of the time it dosen't. I use ONLY MCP pectin boxes, because they have a full 2 oz of pectin. With fruits with good pectin content naturally, I only add one extra tablespoon of pectin to the 1 box and the same recipe. 7c fruit, 7c sugar, 1/2 cup lemon juice. Best of luck. I have been reading and following you for 15 years or more, and I didn't know you had such trouble with jam! I would have shared this with you years ago.
    Judy, used to be from Idaho, now in Yuma AZ

  5. "Disembowel the appliances". Very descriptive.

  6. I have loved your posts for the longest time and commented and the comments disappeared when I hit publish...Hope this one finally gets to you....I pray for you to sell your home in His time...Blessings

  7. So glad you posted this post! Can anyone help me with a few issues im having? I have a All American 921 pressure canner. These are the issues I am experiencing. Maybe they are normal but I am very new to this so concerned for safety of the food.
    1. Serious syphoning of liquid from cans.
    2. Steam escaping from canner while canner. I sometimes stop it, let cool, take off lid and try again only to have it happen again.
    3. Sources say to can for 75 minutes, ni 90 minutes at 12 pounds pressure, no 15 pounds pressure. The All American had dial gauge and weight gauge but I follow the dial. I wonder if this is way issues with syphoning because maybe too much liquid escaping. If anyone is willing to help or even email me I would love help. I don’t know a single person personally who cans so no help there. Did ask on Survival Blog on a couple of the issues.

    Thank you so much- PS. I own your canning download Patrice. I have referenced it but still confused on what is accurate pressure for 3600 altitude.