Updated: May 17, 2021
WORST moment of the whole growing and harvesting season! A few weeks ago I went into our barn where we keep our deep freezers containing all of our homegrown meats and vegetables inside and when I walked in I could see the light on in one of our freezers. This light meant that the door was open and when I got closer I saw the huge puddle of water on the floor where the items inside had been thawing out for at least 24 hours or more. I was devastated when I saw the contents of the freezer. All of the vegetables I had grown, harvested, and carefully preserved were in a soggy, mushy mess. From cut green beans and sliced carrots, to hand picked berries, along with pounds and pounds of bacon from our pigs. All I could see was hours and hours of my time being thrown away and all of the future meals I would have made with all those ingredients.
There were a few items in the back that still had a chance if I worked fast! I took all the assorted berries that were salvageable (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries), all harvested from local farms, and they went into the pot to make berry preserves. I cooked them down a bit and then strained out all the seeds and added a little sugar and put them through the canning process so I could store them in my pantry. I did the same thing with all those tomatoes that I had grown and harvested and stuck in the freezer. I put them through the strainer to get out the seeds and skins and got busy making some plain tomato sauce to add to hearty winter meals. I canned them in a water bath canner to make them shelf stable, no longer relying on the freezer for preserving that item. I feel really lucky that I was able to save some of my homegrown produce to be able to use later this winter. There were a few jars of my fresh basil pesto that were also able to be saved so all in all It wasn't a total loss but definitely not something I want to experience again, EVER!
We are very intentional in our family about how we raise and grow our food so that we can eat healthfully and to see the culmination of much of this past years work go into the trash can really made my heart sink. I have an appreciation for every green bean that I started from seed and watched grow, for the bacon from the pig that we raised from a piglet, and for the fruit that we harvested from neighboring farms. I spend so much time procuring, producing, and preparing food that its hard not to have a deep connection to it. I never want to experience a loss of this nature in the future so we are taking several steps to remedy what led up to our freezer disaster. So here's what we are doing:
1: Install temperature monitors that watch temperatures and send messages to our phones with any abnormal fluctuations. We purchased this brand
2: Daily visual freezer checks. (someone goes out and puts their eyes on each unit)
3: Being more diligent about making sure doors are closed when we walk away from freezer. (this is what probably happened to us this time)
4: Having a backup generator available with fuel in case of a power outage.
Hopefully with these few additional steps we will avoid future disasters like this one. I hope this helps anyone else who uses a deep freezer for food preservation to not make the same mistakes as us. Now on to another farming adventure!