We’re continuing our kitchen spring cleaning guide and tackling the freezer today! If you missed it, our first post covered what you should consider when spring cleaning your fridge, and we’ll be doing the pantry next.
Since it’s now fully spring, we have all of this “spring cleaning” energy, right?? One great place to put that energy is into a serious kitchen deep clean. Appliances, drawers, etc. are great, but the main areas that really take a beating during the year: the fridge, the freezer, and the pantry.
Let’s dig into the freezer
For me, the freezer is a tough one. Nature of the beast: you put things in the freezer that you know you’re not going to use right away, right? So of course some of that stuff has been in there a while! But….. how long has it really been in there?
At a minimum (and hear me out, this is truly a minimum), you should do a full turnover of your freezer once per year. Ideally, nothing hits that one year mark. So if you’re freezing berries (I do!), you should use up all of those frozen berries before you get to the next summer where there are fresh berries again.
- It’s cleaning time
This one may not be that easy, because if items have been in the freezer for a long time, they can become ice blocks. But for that very reason, it’s important to do. Take everything out of the freezer. Remove any dividers you have and clean all surfaces. Since the surfaces are frozen, it might be easier to wash whatever you can in the sink (shelves, dividers), but the walls you’ll need to wipe down. And if there are any really stuck-on pieces (melted ice cream, anyone), now is the time to really dig into those and get them out!
One area that gets overlooked: the ice maker (or any ice you have in molds). Dump them out and refill with water / reset. It’s good for your freezer to start with new (sometimes the old ice turns to a big block rather than individual chunks), and if there is anything in there that needs a cleaning, this is a good time.
- Take stock and cull your items
There will likely be less culling because these items are frozen and don’t have as hard of an expiration date as items in your fridge might be, but you should ask yourself:
- How long has this been in there? Are you approaching the one year mark? If yes, make a plan to use it up. Do you have a bunch of frozen berries for last year? Plan on making some muffins, smoothies, an olive oil cake with berries — anything to really start moving through those before you’re snapping up those fresh summer berries at the market.
- Does any of this look “off”? Has it changed color, or does it look overly frozen (freezer burn)? If yes, it’s time to get rid of it. Think about it this way: do you want to eat it? If no, then don’t put it back. If you don’t want to eat it now, you’re not going to want to eat it later.
- In the ice drawer, have you accumulated a million ice packs and various ice molds? Take stock — do you really need all of them? If not, perhaps you can store them somewhere else, or give them away if they’re items you don’t need at all.
- Are you storing things in your freezer that are not food / ice related? For example, spoons, glassware, ice cream bowls, etc? Do they really need to be there? Now would be a good time to give them a wash and store them in a better place.
One of the best parts about this culling is that you now know exactly what you have, and you probably have a rough idea of when you need to use it up! Something to keep in mind as you’re doing your meal planning!
- Think about organization
Now that you know what you’re putting back in the freezer, think about how you’re going to do it. Keep “like” things together — all your meats in one section, all your frozen fruits / veggies in one section, all your ice / ice-related items together, etc. That way, you only need to look in one section / on one shelf to see if you have something rather than having to search through your whole freezer.
Also, make sure everything is securely wrapped / packaged before it goes back in. Is everything closed? If there is anything open (perhaps a bag of frozen peas that had the top cut off), make sure it gets closed / placed inside a bag, etc. Does it look like one of the plastic bags full of berries is on the verge of breaking? Transfer to a new bag before putting back in the freezer. This way you’ll help avoid spillage, but also any freezer burn that might damage those items.
It’s not a glamorous place for cleaning, but a once-per-year cleanout is so necessary! For me, I already know I have some berries and some pureed pumpkin in there that needs my attention! What do you have in your freezer that you knowww is needing to be used up?