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Farm Store (Saturday 10-3, Sunday 12-4)

How to Organize your Freezer

November 19, 2019

Looking to invest in a beef side from a local farmer (or cattle rancher, like us!)? Get the most from your investment by knowing exactly what you have and where it’s stored. Today I’m sharing tips to store and organize your beef cuts in the freezer.

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Time invested in freezer organization means you know where everything is and what you have on hand ensuring you’ll use it within 9-12 months, the optimum time for freezer freshness on our beef.

Between our house & Blue Silo, we have a total of 3 medium-sized chest freezers (12 cu ft)., one stand up freezer, one large chest freezer (22 cu ft) and two standard home fridges - a side-by-side and a French door model. Safe to say, I’ve learned a thing or two about organizing all types of freezers. Also: I’m good at Tetris, so there’s that!

No matter what you have - chest or upright, home refrigerator or standalone freezer - chances are a small investment in a few storage pieces will go a long way. My tips are tried & true for both chest & upright freezers.

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Purchased new, chest freezers typically come with 2 or 3 hanging baskets leaving a lot of empty room below to organized. I like using plastic crates & baskets, storage boxes with lids & reusable grocery bags.

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Let’s start at the very bottom. Plastic crates are my go-to for the very bottom of our chest freezers. Use them to store cuts with large quantities or cuts that can stack well  - like ground beef or steaks. Two crates fit side-by-side into the bottom of a medium chest freezer; three fit across the bottom of a large chest freezer. Stacking two high is possible, but a freezer basket cannot fit over the top. Upright freezers may have room for one or two of these crates, making it great to store odd-shaped or large cuts like roasts that would otherwise roll around.

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If I’m not stacking those crates two high I’ll look into using plastic storage baskets next. I have a couple styles of open-topped, plastic storage baskets from Dollar Tree that I find myself using often. This style or this style works great to contain smaller cuts (like Filets), cuts that stack side-by-side well (like NY Strips), or cuts I don’t have many of (like Soup Bones or organ meat). These baskets can nestle in a plastic storage crate while leaving room for the hanging basket to fit over the top. They work wonders in upright freezers, too. Purchase them singly at most Dollar Tree stores. 

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In the mobile freezer that travels to Farmers Markets, I use storage boxes with lids. This style of storage box keeps condensation off of the meat packages since the freezer is opened often on hot summer days. Fragile cuts like T-Bones, Porterhouses and Short ribs, prone to losing their seals, are protected from excessive bumps & handling when stored in a storage box with a lid.  A medium-size chest freezer fits three boxes high (or two and a hanging basket) and two boxes wide with room remaining for a plastic crate.

 I also use this skinny version to fit in the narrow step section of the medium chest freezer. That’s a really hard space to utilize because of the size. This size box fits Filet and Skirt steaks or Fajita and Stew meat packages well.

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Use reusable shopping bags to make use of space leftover around the edges of the freezer. Store “durable” cuts like ground beef, sirloin steaks or stew meat in these bags. These cuts can get banged up and still maintain seal integrity.

Cheap plastic baskets may break or crack with extended use in the freezer, but I find replacing them is easy and affordable, so I don’t mind. I do have a few open-topped storage boxes like this which work great in the upright freezer and are durable in cold temps, albeit pricier. 

I hope a few of these tips will help you take control of your freezer, making it easier to find the beef you need next time you open it!

Kassi Glassman

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