Freezer Facts

Today I’m talking freezers. Now, I realize that a freezer isn’t an exciting topic for most, or one that you probably even think about much, but it is a great convenience and offers us great opportunity to keep our food safe. Because of this we need to make sure we’re using it properly.

I live in a very small one bedroom apartment. Included in my small apartment is a small refrigerator with a small freezer. Since I live by myself and cook for only myself the freezer is a great friend of mine. It gives me the ability to store any extra or leftover food I may have without having to worry about it going bad. Because of this my freezer was getting really full, to the point that every time I opened the door I was having to dodge a bag of fruit or stick of butter falling out. After a heavy bag of veggies landed on my toe this weekend I decided it was time to get things organized.

I started by taking everything out, laying it on the counter, and evaluating what all I had packed in there. Much of the stuff had been in there for over two years or had severe freezer burn. Freezer burn does not mean your food isn’t safe to eat, but it can affect the quality and taste of the food, and since I needed to make cuts the old and freezer burned food had to go.

Freezer 4Freezer 3After cuts were made I divided the food into groups, meats, dairy, produce, etc.Freezer 1

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I then went through and made a list of everything I had and hung it on my refrigerator. Now I can visually see what I have in my freezer, even if something gets shoved in the back corner. As I use items from the freezer I will cross them off my list. This will be beneficial when planning meals and grocery shopping.

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Lastly I organized everything back in the freezer as orderly as I could. There are no secrets to how a freezer should be organized, however you always want to make sure that your freezer is at least three-fourths of the way full. This saves energy by making your freezer run more efficiently, and it is also a life saver if your electricity ever goes out. The more frozen food you have in there the longer the temperature will stay cool without power.

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I encourage you to take some time and go through your freezer. Clean out those items you’ve been saving for over three years. You many want to also invest in some plastic freezer bags or freezer containers. These will help prevent freezer burn and insure a better quality for your food. A refrigerator/freezer thermometer can also be very handy to make sure your freezer is working properly, you want the temperature to be at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent any bacteria from growing.

Another great sheet to hang on your refrigerator is the USDA’s Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart.Write the date you place the food in your freezer on the box with a sharpie. Then when you pull it out a few months later you won’t have to guess if it’s still safe to eat or not.

Resources:

USDA Freezing Food Safety

The Science of Freezing Food – University of Minnesota Extension

Freezing Food Questions & Answers – University of Minnesota Extension

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Southwest Cheese & Desert Star Tour

Back in May (I’m a little behind on blogging) Dairy Max hosted a group of dietitians from across Oklahoma and Texas for a great day of learning. We first traveled to Amarillo, TX where we had a fun dinner and learned all about intuitive eating at a restaurant called Rooster’s. The food was delicious! Dinner The next morning we boarded a bus and headed from Amarillo out to Clovis, New Mexico where we toured the Southwest Cheese Plant.

Map Picture

Seeing the inside of a cheese plant was very cool. One thing I learned on the tour is that the dairy industry has a very quick turnaround period. Within 24 hours of cows being milked on the farm, that milk is made into cheese! No wonder it always taste so fresh.

Cheese Factory

I think my favorite part of the tour was talking with the food scientists. One thing I found really interesting was when they discussed the sodium content in food. Sodium gets bashed a lot in our society, and the dairy industry is feeling a lot of pressure to cut the sodium in it’s products, however the right balance of sodium is very crucial to the cheese making process. For one too little or too much sodium will change the moisture balance, and moisture is the key to determining if a cheese is a cheddar, a mozzarella, or a Colby. Also, cheese is one of the safest foods you can eat because of salt. The sodium levels make it hard for any bacteria to grow or thrive on cheese, and changing the levels would be putting lots of American’s at risk for getting food poisoning.

Cheese

We got to try some new and old cheese flavors before we left. The Marble Blue is a cheese the food scientist have been working on, it’s a blue cheese that doesn’t contain any mold! I think I would be willing to try that. And the Red Habenero I found at the grocery store when I got home, you can find it under the Kraft brand. Yum!

After wrapping up the tour we headed to Desert Star Dairy in Texico, NM. Many of the dairy’s around this area raise Jerseys (the Bluebell cows) instead of Holsteins (the Chick-fil-A cows) because Jersey’s produce a milk that is a little higher in fat. This makes it a great choice for creamy foods like cheese and ice cream. We saw the parlor where the girls are milked 2-3 times a day. It was clean, warm, and well lit. You could tell the cows did not mind being milked at all, they walked right up to the milkers!

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Here is one of the mama’s waiting to be milked. She also didn’t mind posing to get her picture taken. Did you know that the moms at Desert Star get 8 weeks of maternity leave after calving?! That is more than human mama’s get!

Jersey

And we also got to play with some of the babies! However once they realized we didn’t have any bottles they weren’t to interested in us anymore.

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I had a such a great time on this trip and I also learned a lot about the dairy industry. It was great to see all of the hard work and planning that goes into producing such a safe a nutritious product for Americans. I wish that all of you could tour a dairy farm and see how neat it is and the care that these families put into their animals. The farther we move away from farms the easier it becomes for our society to believe the propaganda produced by many interest groups, however I can reassure you the majority of farms in America really are hard working people who love what they do and are passionate about their animals, their land, and providing America with a safe and strong food supply. Thank you so much Dairy Max for allowing me this opportunity!