Chest freezers are magical.

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Over at Eat Close To Home, Emily is both wondering whether to buy a chest freezer and also commenting on the one-wayness of the blogger-commenter relationship. So I'm going to go old-school - I was blogging before comments existed, yo - and post here, rather than there.

My family bought a chest freezer sometime in my childhood. Every year, we got a lamb and a quarter(?) of beef from my godmother, down the street. When we moved out of the North Campus Co-ops to Jorvik, my parents gave us that freezer - and bought themselves a smaller one. When we moved out of Jorvik and bought a house, my parents gave us a small chest freezer as a housewarming present. (...with a lamb inside it. Yummy.) (We donated the parents' -> Jorvik chest freezer to Growing Hope.)

So, having had ample opportunity to experience the wonders of chest freezers in various situations, my answer to Emily's question, "Should I buy a chest freezer," is, "Yes, definitely - chest freezers are amazing," especially if you're trying to eat local. As she notes, freezing food is easier than canning, and even less energy intensive (though, on the flip-side, canning feels like more of an accomplishment). Glut of green beans? Sweet corn stand on the side of the road? Kale out your ears? Yeah. The chest freezer can handle it all. (As well as keeping your bulk grains and flours mealmoth-free.)

Once you have a chest freezer, you wonder how you did without one. You can buy that bushel of whatever as the farmers market is closing with absolute impunity! You may not eat that much meat (we don't), but you can buy your year's worth of meat all at once - just toss those milk crate of little paper packages into the freezer and fish them out throughout the year for your weekly dose of animal flesh. (Which brings up another bonus of chest freezers - there's always a surprise lurking at the bottom. "What's this? I thought we had eaten all the chops?! Score!")

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Freezers

I'll second the freezer idea, but we have an upright rather than a chest freezer and LOVE it. I grew up with a chest freezer and things always got lost at the bottom. It is nice to find a six-month old pork chop at the bottom, but disturbing to find one that is six years old. The uprights aren't quite as efficient, but much easier to organize and faster to pull food out.

But yes, freezing food is the easiest. We have been living out of our freezer all winter. We buy a half hog and three or four chickens at a time. We freeze red and green peppers and onions which you can just chop and freeze, no other preparation necessary. Red peppers are especially great because you can buy them by the bushel super cheap at Farmer's Market and then use them with impunity when they are expensive in the winter. Broccoli and corn we blanche and then freeze. Raspberries we freeze on cookie sheets and then bag up when they are frozen. This winter the people at Tantre clued me in to just coring and freezing whole tomatoes so I'm excited to try that! They said they are great in sauces and soups and they often like them better than canned. I love our frozen corn because something about the blanching and freezing process makes it taste like fresh corn, no matter how long you cook it after that.

Having a big freezer also allows you to freeze vegetable or meat stocks and we use them a lot for quick dinner soups and stews. We also make ice cream with any dairy that is getting older so we don't have to worry about wasting milk.

Every year we freeze more and more. It does allow us to eat local year round and is a lot cheaper than buying all the out of season produce. Plus the food is good!

freezers

Juliew covered most of the ground, but I'd like to add that sauces (spaghetti, chili, etc.) can be frozen in can/freeze jars or plastic containers. Also, if you have a manually defrosted freezer, bread will keep for a couple of months. We bake all our own bread and freeze it for sandwiches precut.

Note that you save a lot of energy by using a manually defrosted freezer rather than frostfree, which is actually thawing your food slightly each time it defrosts. There are tables of energy use of freezers available on the internet, worth looking at before buying. Upright (like ours) is about as energy efficient as chest. The worst is side-by-side refrigerator/freezer combinations.