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“What happens if my freezer breaks or the power goes out?”
This is a very common question that comes up in conversations about buying beef in bulk, and is absolutely a consideration that needs to be taken into account. After all, cold storage only works if you keep it cold.
Here are a few key strategies to prevent your meat from prematurely thawing out:
1. Freezer thermometers w/ alarm
Many will assume things are fine as long as the power to the house is working, but I have heard countless horror stories about a freezer door left ajar or a circuit breaker being tripped without being noticed. The temperature inside your freezer is the best data point to monitor and can be done quite easily with a purpose-built thermometer.
You’ll find plenty of basic freezer alarms on Amazon like this one, but their accuracy and build quality are likely questionable. For an upgraded option, look at Thermoworks (makers of the renown Thermapen) who have a whole section of their site dedicated to Fridge/Freezer Thermometers.
A wifi-enabled unit can be extremely useful for receiving alerts while away from home, but be cautious about the options available on Amazon as the companion apps may require giving up all sorts of unwarranted permissions on your device before allowing you to use it. If you do want to take advantage of a smart-thermometer I would recommend using Home Assistant, however be prepared to put a bit more effort into sourcing and setup.
2. Redundant power sources
When you’re storing large quantities of frozen food at home, you don’t want to wait until the power goes out to figure out how to keep the compressor running. One option is to purchase a solar panel and battery combo, which you can plug into the freezer overnight and recharge during the day. I have had a GoalZero combo for a few years, but there are other options out there including one from Anker. This type of solution is intended to be temporary and doesn’t solve for a lack of power in the rest of the home.
For a more robust solution to power outages, a fuel-based generator is a wise investment. Generac is a well-known brand and offers whole-house generators, but a more budget-friendly portable generator like this one from Firman offers flexibility with the fuels you can use.
For all of the above options, you can also work with an electrician to install a transfer panel which allows you to switch some of your home’s circuit breakers over to an alternate power source while the main line to the house is out.
3. Backup freezer space
If the compressor on your freezer stops working, no amount of backup power will help your cause. And while you may end up hiring an appliance repair service to come resolve the issue, the contents of your freezer will likely be ruined by then. An extra chest freezer may seem excessive, but it can also be useful for storing the contents of your freezer while removing the frost that has built up.
After all, the correct number of chest freezers to own is one more than you currently have.
Primal Cut Sheet is a reader-supported publication featuring ideas, resources, and insights on sourcing and cooking animal protein.
The Purpose of the Primal Cut Sheet
This is part of an ongoing monthly series that aims to provide you with all of the information you will need to start buying high-quality beef in bulk directly from a local producer.
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