The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Filling the fridge and freezer

Basket of sweet cornSpace in our freezer is suddenly starting to get tight, something that never happened last year.  Pretty soon, I'm going to have to make a decision --- stop freezing and start giving produce away, turn on one of our inefficient freezers, or buy another energy star model.  Such bounty!

I also harvested about half of our potatoes Monday because I needed the space for fall peas.  The average yield per bed was about 6.5 pounds (from about 1 pound of seed potatoes per bed.)  Yukon Golds aren't the most productive potatoes, but I'm still a bit blown away at the sheer mass of tubers I grubbed out of the soil.  If we had only a tiny bit of ground and were desperate to feed a family, potatoes would be the way to go.
Yukon Gold potatoes
At the moment, our potatoes are cooling it in our refrigerator's crisper drawer.  Even though we downgraded to a much smaller and more efficient fridge last year, I still run the fridge about half empty most of the time.  I'm a strong believer in keeping close tabs on leftovers and eating them within two days, so there's plenty of space for a few dozen pounds of potatoes.  Still, we're going to have to excavate the refrigerator root cellar soon and put it back to work --- I've got three more beds of potatoes to harvest, and the fall carrots are finally starting to germinate in the garden.

Treat your chickens to a homemade chicken waterer that will never spill or fill with poop.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Do you guys ever pressure can?

I ask because I have a tiny freezer that fills too full every year, and a canner that needs a new seal, so I'm really hoping to learn to can meat and low acid veggies this year.

We were thinking about getting an upright freezer for the garage for the excess, but I do think the convenience of the canned things would be really nice.

Congrats on your great freezer filling harvest!

Comment by Bethany James Tue Jul 27 10:24:18 2010
We don't can at the moment, which I'm a bit ashamed of. On the one hand, canning is probably more environmentally friendly than running a freezer (although our freezer is ultra efficient), and canned goods would certainly be more useful in the event of a catastrophe. On the other hand, all of that extreme heat that you use to pressure can deactivates so many of the nutrients (and flavors) in fresh produce. At the moment, I stick to frozen because I think it's better for us (although easier does factor in...)
Comment by anna Tue Jul 27 10:59:10 2010

Is that "canning" as in metal cans, or as in Weck jars?

Metal cans are usually coated with epoxy resin on the inside to prevent corrosion, and I'm hearing more and more about potential release of bisphenol-A from hydrolisis of epoxy. Also, metal cans aren't easily re-usable.

I recently bought a couple of weck look-alike jars for storing leftovers in the fridge. I tended to use PE containers, but is it nearly impossible to clean plastic containers properly after storing stews that contain either tomatoes or curry in them. Both color and to a leser extent taste seem to seep into the material. The glass jars should do a lot better in that respect. They're easier to clean properly as well. Pretty much nothing sticks to glass when you rinse it with hot water and soda.

I've eaten stuff that has been stored in the fridge in a closed container for about a week without problems. And the two times that I contracted food poisoning were both from store-bought items!

My sister sometimes cooks home-made jam when strawberries are cheap. Best jam I've ever tasted. I keep a couple of real Weck jars on hand just in case she has any left!

Comment by Roland_Smith Tue Jul 27 14:34:09 2010

Canning as in Mason jars. (A bit like Weck jars, but you buy a new lid each year to ensure a proper seal --- another reason I don't like them.) I know it's odd to call it canning, but that's what everyone says!

We use plastic containers for storing leftovers in the fridge and in the freezer. They're quite reusable, although I agree that tomato stains things.

My leftover policy isn't so much to prevent food poisoning as to prevent food spoilage. I've discovered that if I can't keep track of everything in the fridge in my head, some of it goes bad. Why work so hard to grow something then have to throw it to the chickens?

Comment by anna Tue Jul 27 15:11:58 2010

Why not just use a non-permanent marker to write the date and contents on the outside of the container? If the non-permanent marker won't stick try roughening the surface with scotchbrite or something like it.

A CD/DVD marker also works on PE containers, but is harder to remove.

Since I rarely have more than two containers in the fridge, I don't bother, but if you have lots it should work.

Comment by Roland_Smith Tue Jul 27 16:06:34 2010
It's not that I can't keep track of how old the food is. It's more a matter of keeping all of the refrigerator's contents in my head so that I'm sure I rotate through them while they're still at their optimal freshness. I just don't see the point of keeping old food around.
Comment by anna Tue Jul 27 16:59:29 2010
If any of you are a member of Costco or know someone who is, Costco carries "Glass Lock" containers. The main part is glass that has a plastic lid with a silicone seal. They are the most amazing storage containers I have ever had. I have kept soft cheese for three weeks in the refrigerator in these. At my Costco I get a 18 piece set, nine containers of different sizes and nint covers for each. It is the best $30 I have ever spent!
Comment by Sheila Tue Jul 27 22:27:57 2010
I remember you had some nifty glass containers --- not sure if they're the same ones you're talking about, though. :-)
Comment by anna Wed Jul 28 12:19:18 2010

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