Baby, it’s cold out there — and in here 

The art of freezing your meat

Brrrrr. This slice of Arctic air isn’t the only thing that’s freezing.

Just about all of us have a freezer of one size and temperament or another. Into it we regularly shove food. And take it back out regularly, or not so regularly.

It took me a very long time after I left the exceptional kitchen facility my mom ran to figure out that a freezer wasn’t a black hole into which you could disappear food and expect to retrieve it back in a year or three, good as new.

This type of thinking may be genetically programmed in Canada. We’ve all had a great-auntie somewhere on the prairies or in the Interior, Lord knows I’ve had about three of them, whose freezers were museums. You’d be sent down to the basement to retrieve some vanilla ice cream for dessert and there it was, a hulking metal behemoth across from the furnace, humming purposefully in the dark with its tiny orangey indicator light showing, in the spirit of a true Canadian, it wasn’t letting anyone down.

When you lifted the lid it looked like the inside of the central bank in Jack Frost’s hometown, stuffed to the gills with solid bricks of things pallid and white and grey and seemingly important, for they were organized and properly fitted to use up all the space. Delicate, decorative hoar frost crystals sprouted in every crack.

But lordie, what was all that stuff? Aunt Georgie and Uncle Gordon, well, there was only the two of them, and here was enough food, if it ever thawed, to supply a whole village in south Asia.

Through the layers and layers of wax paper and Saran wrap you could just make out in the weepy light an entire family history. Sort of like digging down through a midden.

Uncle Nick’s moose meat sausage from last fall’s hunt in Peace River. Clumps of frozen Christmas cake from two Christmases ago. Blocks of what must have been hamburger blanched to grey. Foggy plastic cartons of scary leftovers. Porterhouse buns, hard and eviscerated to nothing, which you just knew were stinky with so much fridge taste that no one would ever eat one. In fact, likely no one ever ate most of that food, except for the ice cream.

Freezers, including the tiny ones on top of your fridge, aren’t really eternal storehouses for food, especially meat. No matter how cheap that chicken or roast was when you got it on sale, you won’t be able to redeem any value, nutritionally or otherwise, if you expect to freeze it forever and use it whenever.

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