The invention of the freezer was a giant step in food preservation because freezing food stops bacterial growth. When it comes to getting a new freezer, it is important to choose one suited to your lifestyle and available space. Not everyone needs a full 500 cubic foot deep freezer; but there are so many choices, how can you ever pick which one is right for you?
Picking a freezer to suit your needs
Let's take a look at a few common points to consider when picking out the best freezer to meet your needs.
Size is not the same as space, which we will cover in a minute. By size, I am talking about the amount of room you have to store a freezer. Many people forego a deep freezer because they do not have the room to put such a huge piece of deep-freezing goodness.
It is important to think about the room you will have for a freezer because that will play a big factor in the type of freezer you can buy. If you have a large space available, you will be able to choose from a wide variety of freezer selections, however if you only have the standard fridge/freezer combo space, you must make every square foot count.
What exactly are you trying to put into your freezer? If you are a hunter and wish to stuff a side-by-side with an entire deer, you might want to rethink your strategy. Likewise, if you are a single person who loves to freeze pancakes, you might not want to opt in for the deep freezer. Space is taking into consideration what you want to freeze and the amount of room you need to do it.
Don't just think about what you have to store now, but what you have in mind to freeze later. While it is all good that you have 10 frozen pizzas in your upright freezer, you might want to consider the fact that you were considering once a month cooking and soon you will need all of the room you can get.
Once you have figured out what size area you have and what exactly you are planning on storing, it is on to figuring out if you really need a deep freezer, or if a standard freezer will suite your needs just fine. While it may be nice to have a deep freezer in the case of emergencies, you may only need a simple fridge/freezer combo to take care of all your needs.
While style is mostly about looks and less about functionality, this should be the last thing you need to worry about. Figure out what works best and feels the most comfortable for you. If you like the way a side-by-side looks over a bottom shelf, then go for that. Do you need a chest deep freezer, or can you get by with a stand up freezer with efficient shelving? These are all decisions that you must make; no one can make them for you.
It is most important, when choosing a freezer, to first consider your needs and available resources. Once you have looked at your size and space issues, then you will be able to choose based on looks.
Proper freezer temperature
Having the ability to quickly chill down food and store it at a temperature where bacteria doesn't grow, means that food can be kept for a long time without spoiling. Notice, however, that I didn't say freezing the food would kill the bacteria, so as soon as the freezer starts warming up, the bacterial decay will start up again.
While water begins to freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, most foods needs a much lower temperature, about -10 degrees Fahrenheit, in order to properly freeze. The perfect temperature for storing frozen food is 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, many people do not have the luxury of owning two freezers, one they can set for initially freezing the food and another only set to store the food, so a good compromise is around -7 degrees Fahrenheit.
You might begin to ask why the best compromise isn't exactly half of the difference, which would put it around -5 degrees Fahrenheit, and that is a great question. The faster food freezes, the smaller the ice crystals that form. Smaller ice crystals mean less chance of food dehydration and oxidation, leading to freezer burn. So while it is good to store food at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the freezer should really be colder in order to freeze food quickly and also have more room to fluctuate when adding new foods.
Contrary to popular belief, temperature is not the sole cause freezer burn. Freezer burn is the dehydration of your food by the air. As the moisture leaves the food, it escapes into the air in the freezer. Keeping your freezer at the proper temperature will help to control the level of moisture in the air. The cooler the temperature is in the freezer, the less it will heat up while putting new food in. The less the freezer heats up, the less moisture will be released into the air.
One of the best ways to keep your freezer cold and keep your operating expense down is to keep your freezer full. A full freezer will stay colder longer and it is easier to keep frozen foods cold rather than try to cool all the air in the freezer. While a full freezer will keep food cold for two days during a power outage, a half full freezer will only keep food cold for about 12 hours. Other pantry items, such as flour, dry beans or rice can be added to fill up space in the freezer and help add some bulk when you have extra space.
While many people leave their freezer where it was set from the store, it is important to actively look at and adjust your freezer temperature. Make sure it is set between 0 and -10 degrees Fahrenheit, with the ideal temperature to be about -7 degrees. Also, try your best to keep your freezer full at all times, and when it starts to get empty, substitute some pantry items to make up for empty room. Once you get into the routine of keeping your freezer at a certain temperature, you will be amazed at the difference between the quality of your food and the amount of your electric bill.
Maximize your freezer space
If you have ever had a freezer, you know how frustrating it can be to walk in from the store only to realize there is not enough room for your three frozen pizzas, five pounds of ground beef and a gallon container of your favorite ice cream. Usually this is remedied by getting frustrated, pulling everything out of your freezer and re-stacking everything like your life depended on it, in order to get the door shut. Surely there has to be a better way to maximize your freezer space. Let's take a look at a few ideas to fore-go your freezer frustrations.
Having specific containers to put your frozen items in, makes increasing your freezer space easy. Containers stack well, unlike full Ziploc bags, which bulge and bloat when frozen. Having a set of containers that are dedicated for the freezer means you can stuff and stack to your heart's content.
The best containers to use are ones with thick walls and locking lids. If the lids do not lock, there is a good chance you will have freezer burn when you pull them out to use later. The thick walls will help the containers hold up under the pressure of stacking, and also ensure they are reusable after many months of freezing.
Stacking food in freezers is more akin to trying to stack soup, especially if you have a deep freezer. It seems as though freezer manufacturers all got together and designed the shelves to be extremely tall and unable to completely fill. Using shelves makes your freezer more stacking-friendly.
You can purchase simple plastic shelving from your local general store, which basically doubles your storage space by the square foot. Items don't need to be stacked as high and the air is allowed to move around the food more, so your freezer doesn't have to work as hard.
Sure, things can freeze for quite some time, but do you really think the Ziploc bag of half eaten banana will get used if it has already been in there for over a year? Highly unlikely, get rid of it.
Going through and cleaning out your freezer every once in a while will do two important things for you. First, it will let you keep track of everything that you have in your freezer. This lets you know what you can use in the next few weeks or months, helping you save money instead of wasting food. Secondly, your freezer gets a scheduled cleaning as you go through everything, and re-arrange and stack.
There are some simple things you can do to maximize your freezer storage space. Using good quality containers, adding additional shelving and cleaning out your freezer on a consistent basis all help with increasing your storage capabilities. You will be surprised with a little organization and the occasional cleaning; your freezer will work better and be able to store everything you need it to.