Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The best laid plans of mice and men...



Historically, we have been a two-freezer family.

Mrs ERJ favors upright freezers for ease of seeing what is in stock and what needs to be replenished. Consequently, that is what we have, upright freezers. Happy wife and all that.

One of the freezers stopped working. The fix-it guys came out for $95 and told me that it was not economical to fix. That is, over $900 to fix an $800 freezer.

I asked "Why is it so expensive?"

The old guy sighed and said "We have to recover the refrigerant."

"But, but, but...there is a leak in the evaporator. The reason it isn't working is because there is no refrigerant in the system" I said.

"I don't make the rules" the old guy said. "But I still gotta follow them."

Garden planning

Mrs ERJ likes frozen sweet corn. When I planted the garden I planted a boat-load of sweet corn. And honeydew melon. My thinking was that we could freeze both and that most people will accept gifts of melons and/or sweet corn.


I am not sure there is much room for either in the one freezer we have.

The entire idea behind our freezer is to maximize the value of the food we keep on-hand and to minimize the number of trips to the store. The minimizing of trips is why you seed bread in the freezer. It is low-value/cubic-inch but it is something we use steadily.

The riced cauliflower (Yech!) is Belladonna's.

It is a false economy to stuff so much food in a freezer that it goes years before being tossed out.

Canning chicken

So, today's great adventure is going to be an effort to pressure can chicken in pint jars.

That entire concept of maximizing value is complicated by the fact that some high-value foods can be stored in other ways and some cannot. Frozen blueberries (current retail price $3.30/lb), for instance, are best kept frozen. Meat, on the other hand, can be pressure canned.

Boneless chicken breasts are on-sale for $1.77 a pound or about half the price of pre-frozen. One of the things this Covid event is teaching us is that what is available and inexpensive today might not be available at any cost tomorrow. New, upright freezers for example.

My new pressure canner claims to hold up to twenty pints per batch.


  1. So they simply have to go thru the motions, collect no refrigerant, and charge $800.00. All to follow the rules. Wow.

  2. I have been pressure canning chicken for years, and it is really nice to have on hand for chicken salad, and many dishes that call for cooked chicken. I can it in both pints and quarts. I cut it into 1/2" to 1" chunks, cook it in water until it is just barely cooked on all sides, put it in jars with additional water boiled in separate container, and pressure can it the appropriate amount of time. I like to pre-cook it because then it isn't just one large mass of chicken in the jar and it comes out of the jar easily. I don't use the water from the chicken pot to add to the jar because I don't like the little bits of chicken debris in the canning jar (aesthetics, I know). One pound of meat roughly equals one pint.

  3. Well I always use Ball Blue book times. You could possibly pull safe times off the web. Should be 75 min for pints at the pressure appropriate for altitude usually 11# for under 1000 ft. Don't crowd jars too hard. I use wide mouth jars for meat and get 16 in either of my 21 quart canners 18 for regular mouth.

  4. I'm surprised. Chest freezers are so much more efficient to run and the cold air stays put when you open it up, means you only have to defrost them once in a while. Yes, it's a little more aggravating to manage the space, but only a little.

    1. I use baskets and milk crates to organize by food type. Most frequent on top, simply lift a basket out to get at the less-frequently accessed stuff below.

  5. Chest freezers vs. uprights is a battle I'm NOT going to get in the middle of... LOL