I don’t pretend to know what normal people do, having left the land of mainstream so long ago that I barely remember the topography. I certainly would not presume to be an expert on what they keep in their freezers, either. But if I had to guess, I’d venture that it’s not the same kinds of things that I keep in mine.
Ordinary people probably keep items bought from the frozen foods section at the grocery store—vegetables, pizza, hash browns, and ice cream. Many might have steaks and chicken that they picked up on sale, or the extra turkey they grabbed on their second trip to the store even though the 39-cents-a-pound birds are supposed to be “Limit One.” Some folks might have also tucked away the last of a birthday cake, or a lasagna that got made before dinner plans changed, or the excess jam squares that a neighbor brought to a pot luck.
A lot of people in Maine grow gardens and put up the excess in the freezer. It is common to find home-grown frozen string beans and broccoli and corn-on-the-cob, carefully harvested and cleaned and blanched and packaged.
I have home-grown vegetables in my freezer, too. Or freezers, with an S, actually. I have three chest freezers in my food storage room. I don’t keep them all running all the time—it varies season to season and year to year.
My biggest freezer, not quite fifteen cubic feet, is generally dedicated to vegetables and fruit. I like to empty it every spring, consolidating leftover packages in with the meats and other miscellaneous items into another unit, and fill it with the garden harvest as it comes ready. I have it over half full already, with three varieties of peas, green beans, broccoli, eggplant, zucchini, and spring-dug parsnips. I’ll top it off with the handful of last year’s produce and by October it will be packed to the gills.
My vegetable freezer, while it could be considered excessive, is not anything abnormal. My other freezer has a lot of normal things in it too—plenty of bread, made in double batches on cooler days to get us through the hot ones—and meat, usually raised ourselves or bought by the side, and flour that was bought in bulk and repackaged into five-pound bags.
It’s those “other miscellaneous items” that run the risk of raising eyebrows.
There are quite a few containers labeled “colostrum.” Now there’s something you don’t see in everyone’s freezer. Colostrum is the supercharged lactation produced by brand new mammal mothers—in my case it’s from goats—the nectar of life for her fragile newborn. It’s thick and yellow and nothing I’d ever want to consume, but having some on hand is like having money in the bank. If one of my goats were ever unable to produce sufficient colostrum, or were injured or even died while kidding, I’d have something to feed the offspring. There’s powdered stuff, but it’s not the same. Powdered stuff never is.
I have “dog stock,” too. As scary as that sounds, considering that beef stock is made from beef and vegetable stock is made from vegetables, it’s not like that. I cook up the discarded bones and bits from steaks and roasts, and save the liquid to pour a little over my dog’s supper every day.
There are a lot of unusual pork products in my freezer as well. I bought a half pig recently, and wrote on the processing order sheet that I not only wanted my own lard and fatback back, but I’d take everyone else’s who didn’t want theirs. I was a little surprised at how much I got. Many tedious lard-rendering hours later, I have dozens of plastic pint jars of homemade lard stacked neatly in the freezer, along with a pile of homemade salt pork.
I have the leftovers, too, the rough outer edges that were trimmed off the fatback, saved for the chickens this winter.
I have other pig parts as well, the ones to which most people say no thanks. Parts which simmer nicely in a crock pot and result in plenty of dog stock and welcome protein for the chickens.
As crazy as all that sounds, I know that I will never win the award for Most Bizarre Freezer Item. Not that I want to. In my mind, that award will always go to the mother of my son’s childhood friend. We lived in rattlesnake country back then, and the boys shot and killed a large coiled-up rattler near her house. It remained weirdly coiled up, and they stuck it in her freezer. Astonishingly, she let them. It stayed there for days, with them taking it out every so often to let it thaw just enough to appear to move. It made great fodder for stories to tell their friends, and they delighted in showing it off to unsuspecting mothers who came to pick up their sons.
I’ll keep my freezer snake-free, thank you very much. And if you choose to keep yours pig-liver-free or colostrum-free, I wouldn’t blame you. Everyone has their limits. Mainstream or not, may you always find something delicious to eat in your freezer.