Only God can stop time. But the freezer is a godsend in its ability to magically preserve everything from last week's really good beef stew to our latest batch of homemade broth. But sometimes the trusty freezer is called upon to house items that no manufacturer could have dreamed of.
When we asked our readers about the most out-there items they currently kept at frigid temperatures, we got some...unexpected answers. And much like Chunk in the 80's cult classic The Goonies, when you go snooping around in an unfamiliar freezer, you may find more than mere Chocolate Eruption.
The New Normal
Frozen food that seems weird to some is just good sense to others. Perhaps inspired by our 11 freezer essentials, readers said that they routinely stored chia seeds, grated coconut, and butter in the freezer.
Plenty of readers called out the snacks they keep frozen, like Rittersport chocolate, peanut butter cups, and blueberries. But it was Claire K. who was undoubtedly the most prepared of all of us. Her report on the contents of her freezer put us all to shame:
"Duck fat, chicken fat, bacon fat, eight egg whites, one cookie from Levain bakery, buckwheat flour, pre-rolled chocolate chip cookie dough, rennet, guanciale, salt pork, chocolate babka, olive oil cake, zucchini loaf, banana leaves, wonton wrappers, and oatmeal. Among other things..."
Reader David M.'s confession was refreshingly honest, calling out his own cooking as the strangest frozen food in his freezer; while another reader called out his stash of pre-made vegan corn dogs. Strange indeed. Maybe try some freezer mac and cheese, slow-cooker chili, or DIY calzones instead?
Saving up in the freezer piggy bank
Reader Johanne K. stores Parmesan rinds that she can pull out at a moment's notice to add salty, umami punch to her next soup. While some people might open my freezer and see 4 pounds of animal bones and worry, I see stock that I haven't yet had time to make. Often times, when I dine out, if there's been a substantial bone in my meal, I'll take the bone home and stash it in my freezer until I have enough for stock. Some of our readers have similar ideas, stashing ribeye bones and fish heads for months in their freezers.
It also looks like more of America is getting on the #Wasteless bandwagon, with several readers chiming in about their bags of food scraps (destined for the compost heap).
For other readers, remembering just what was that thing in the back corner of the freezer was half the battle. For Hector S., that meant a fish caught from Lake Norman when his son was but eight years old. For Christine D. it meant a store of fully decorated, post-apocalypse–themed Attack on Titan sugar cookies. Sue D. was holding on to a container of 4-year-old breast milk.
The Coolest Vintage Store in America
Judging from a few of our reader responses, it seems second-hand stores should start opening freezer sections. When Epi executive director Eric Gillin worked for Esquire, he recalls tipping off readers to stash their $500 jeans in the freezer instead of washing them, since, he says, "the freezer kills bacteria or works to de-smell them or something." Similarly, our photo editor Chelsea Kyle stashes delicate sweaters and dry-clean-only clothing in the freezer, noting that "it removes all odor."
And it's not just high-priced fashion you'll find when you crack some freezer doors. Other readers discussed freezing old books to kill potential bedbugs, freezing old hard drives to save their data, and freezing old batteries to....well, we're not sure, but perhaps your grandfather did it, too?
This Is Where Things Get Dicey
Aliza E. has a stash of ground alpaca meat. "It was given to me by a farmer," she says. "My husband is determined to make a 5-animal meatloaf with it, but that's just wrong." The Alpaca-Loaf Standoff has been going on for 12 months and counting. Other readers are holding on to calf's liver, venison, octopus, and hog casings. All good meals waiting to happen.
And then there were the other readers. The "a mouse and a tarantula" readers, and the "dead iguana" readers. Steve R., a reader we'll assume—we'll hope?—is a scientist, confessed to having "a frozen monkey." We can sympathize with at least one of these readers who notes that he once froze a pet guinea pig that had died in the dead of winter to await a spring burial. We can only hope the popsicled pet was kept far away from all those tasty peanut butter cups.