|The river Stort, yesterday...|
Some years ago we decided we wanted to enable the purchase of meat in bulk. Not in a “buy it cheap, pile it high” sort of way, but more “find a nice farmer who cares for their animals, makes sure they have good lives, a dignified death, and then takes care in the butchering”. Our freezer capacity at the time was limited to the bottom half of our fridge/freezer - a reasonable size but not huge, and, by the time all the usual frozen veg/bread/ leftovers/ ice cubes/ fish fingers sort of stuff was taken into account, without a vast amount of spare space. Coincidentally we also had a pretty much perfectly “freezer sized” space being used for assorted “stuff” - all of which could be found homes elsewhere. We added 2 + 2 together and “freezer 2” was ordered and duly installed.
Initially freezer 2 was home to “Herbert” - our first whole lamb purchase. Herbert provided an astonishing number of meals for the two of us - the cost of a whole beast feels high but you can get so much more from it when it is butchered to your requirements, and it is this, combined with the lower per-kilo price of buying in more quantity, that makes it cost effective if you have the space.
We don’t always have freezer 2 switched on. Until the early part of last year it had been turned off - door carefully propped open for airflow - for some time, but lockdown 1 and the panic buying underlined the benefits of having additional freezer space for either yellow stickered bargains or simply to give more capacity for things like additional frozen veg. Currently, the top drawer holds home made rolls for lunches, plus sandwich fillings. Drawer 2 is frozen mince plus the ice-packs we use in the cold box when camping, or going to and from the Hebrides. Drawer 3 - MrEH’s coffee stash, and every second week a 2 pint bottle of milk for me - decanted from the larger 4 pint bottle I usually buy. The bottom drawer varies. Often a bag of oven chips and some battered fish for fakeaway F&C. Maybe a tub of ice cream.
Freezer 1 meanwhile is below our fridge and lives - as you might expect - in the kitchen. Not the same fridge as when freezer 2 first came about, but a similar sort of size. 3 drawers - the top mainly home to things frozen in plastic tubs - home grown fruit frozen as purées, batch cooked stuff like bolognese, fish fingers because the packet is exactly wide enough to sit in the front of the drawer. Drawer 2 houses main central meal components - sausages, white fish fillets, meat for stews, or for roasting. Stornoway Black pudding brought back from the Hebrides (worth a mention all on its own). The bottom drawer is frozen veg and fruit.
As and when a whole lamb is bought for a time at least that will make our main components of meals, and essentially we need the whole of freezer 2, plus some capacity in freezer 1 for the overspill. The only way of accurately estimating the available space is to gradually start making room to transfer the contents of freezer 2, into freezer 1. A job for this week will be to start moving things across - then we’ll start to know where we stand.
If you have the space then additional freezer capacity is a gamechanger. And so is buying a whole carcass. When you just have a couple of chops, the tendency is to grill them, a single roasting joint? Pop it in the oven and serve traditionally with roast potatoes and veg. When you have a whole rack of chops though it opens up the possibilities - hotpot, grilled, curried. You escape the tendency to be constrained by the safe option. A selection of roasting joints to choose from fires your imagination towards tagines, deliciously slow roasted pulled lamb, or a rolled breast stuffed with dried apricots, herbs, and breadcrumbs... add in the liver with deliciously creamy mash and stickily sweet onion gravy, or the chump braised slowly with chunks of onion, whole baby mushrooms, and enough garlic to see off a whole platoon of vampires...and THAT is worth clearing space in the freezer for.