Where I am, it feels like spring has sprung — about three weeks early for the calendar, but after the crazy severe winter we’ve had, I’ll take it. Winter aconite and snowdrops are blooming, the days are getting longer, and I had to take off two of my four layers while walking around downtown Philly earlier this week.
Part of me doesn’t feel quite ready for spring and everything it brings — prepping the garden, starting seeds, lots of cleaning — and another part of me can’t wait to walk around outside in a tank top and dig in the dirt.
To help ease the transition into spring, I’ve been making a mental list of the tasks I’ll tackle around my kitchen in the coming weeks. Every year, organizing the freezer — the one on top of my fridge and my apartment-sized chest freezer — is on the list.
In a short burst of activity, I took the initiative to tackle the upright freezer. I admit that I didn’t defrost and fully clean it, but I was short on time and eager to make a little progress and get the clutter out, so I did a quick cull and organize — it took all of 15 minutes, but made me feel accomplished and life a little tidier.
When I do a deep dive into the freezers, I always discover forgotten treasures I can add into my meal planning and some, er, missed opportunities that are long overdue for a trip to the compost bucket.
I found a pack of ground lamb from a friend’s farm that I had forgotten about, plus some freezer-burned smoothie berries from at least 2 summers ago…and a bag of cherry tomatoes from (yikes) 2015. Also discovered: Dried mushrooms a friend had given me at least five years ago, an ancient handful of pistachios, and nearly unrecognizable roasted jalapeños also went into the compost.
What was left? Lots of ice packs (I like to have an easy-to-grab stash for cheese events, but there were way too many in there), frozen pastured meats, 2017-edition current bagged veggies, ginger and turmeric, stock makings (leek tops and celery), whole wheat tortillas (they were on sale), and a tub of the best pumpkin puree, a reminder to make one last batch of brown butter pumpkin muffins before the weather turns.
The freezer’s cluttered door shelves looked much tidier, with containers of tomato broth, frozen bananas, cheesemaking cultures, and both sweet cream and cultured butter sitting upright with a bag of chipotle peppers and a few veggie dumplings. (Please don’t judge my Wawa coffee — it was purchased on Christmas morning last year so that my partner and I could survive the holiday in a caffeine-free household, and I decided we’d keep it for emergencies.)
The tomato broth and one of the bags of lima beans will go into a soup with some parmesan rinds and maybe some orzo or Israeli couscous before the weather gets much warmer, and I’ll use the other bag with the sweet corn and roasted poblanos (they’re in there too), a jar of tomatillo sauce, and chicken thighs to make a chunky green chili. Don’t you love shopping your own freezer?
Here are a few of the other tasks I’ll take care of as the season changes so that I’m ready for a delicious season of cooking and preserving:
- Deep-cleaning the stove top (including behind the dials)
- Culling, cleaning, and organizing the chest freezer (I need to devote a day to this one)
- Performing a ruthless KonMari of my pantry — I have cans of fava beans in there from 2011 that I somehow haven’t been able to make myself throw away
- An inventory of both full and empty jars in my canning closet
- Getting rid of the bottles I never use on top of the fridge and deep cleaning that surface
- Selling or giving away kitchenware I never use
What are some of the ways you get your kitchen ready for spring (and the forthcoming canning season)?