The Cost of Defrosting a Freezer
As you may have noticed when I shared pictures of my microapartment earlier this week, I don’t have any shelving to speak of, and I don’t have any cupboards.
So my refrigerator stores both items that do need to be refrigerated, like almond milk and those enormous boxes of soup that taste really good the first few times and then you realize you have to have the same soup every day until it runs out or you’ll waste food, and items that do not need to be refrigerated, like rice and Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats.
Yes, I could stash my dry goods under the bed, probably. But I’ve lived in two separate places where any dry good left out would be inhabited by bugs the next morning, no matter how hard you scrubbed and wiped and sprayed mixtures of dish soap and white vinegar over everything. (There was a time when I would scrub down my kitchen every night before I went to bed, in the hopes that it would somehow deter the roaches.)
So I decided to just put everything in the refrigerator instead, which is probably how the freezer section ended up getting packed with frost.
I knew as soon as I saw Meaghan’s post about her frosty freezer that mine would eventually end up looking like that, since I have an equally old refrigerator/freezer appliance. From what I understand, these kinds of freezers grow a tiny bit of frost every time you open and close the refrigerator door. (Something about moisture getting trapped inside.) When you’ve got your bread, your mayonnaise, your pickles, your hot peppers, your deli meat, and your lettuce all in the same place, you have to open and close your refrigerator door six times just to make a sandwich. (If you’re wondering “why can’t I take out everything at once and set it on the countertop,” um… I have no countertop.)
So after a year of playing Queen Elsa of Arendelle every time I opened my refrigerator door, I realized I had to defrost my freezer.
The standard operating procedure in this case is to buy a cooler, pack it with ice, and put all the perishables inside. Fun fact: although I could find at least three stores on Capitol Hill willing to sell me a Halloween wig, nobody would sell me a cooler. One clerk finally explained that they didn’t have any coolers in stock because it was the “off-season.” I did not explain that there is never an off-season when it comes to defrosting freezers.
So here’s what I ended up doing instead:
First, I “ate down” all the stuff in my freezer, until it was nearly empty save for a few key items.
I also ate as much of the perishable stuff in my refrigerator as I could.
Then, yesterday, I took out all the rice and cereal and chips and bars of Endangered Species Chocolate and arrayed them on my bed.
I took the few perishable refrigerator items left in the refrigerator, surrounded them by some old popsicles I had in the freezer (and two vacuum-packed frozen tilapia fillets), wrapped everything up in the enormous “cool bandage” thing I got after I was hit by a car, and put it in the bucket that I normally use for washing my dishes.
And then I unplugged everything, put bowls of boiling water in my frosty freezer, and waited.
The freezer was defrosted by noon. (The inside of the freezer, anyway. I’m assuming that’s the important part.) The popsicles and one of the fish fillets were lost to the cause, but all the other food items stayed either frozen or cold. I may have dumped part of the water in the drip tray onto the floor as I tried to remove it from the freezer, but I had towels at the ready. All in all, a qualified success, and I hope I won’t have to do this again until next year.
Total cost: Popsicles and one fish fillet