It's official: I've become my grandmother. I realized it the other morning when I opened the door to our freezer.
That icy vault was packed to the brim. But -- in the finest tradition of my Grandma Yeager -- it wasn't filled so much with leftovers, like you'd find in most household freezers. You see, my Grams had a few deep-frozen secrets. She knew about weird stuff; weird stuff you can deep-six in the freezer and maybe save some money in the process.
* Candles: Keep your wax candles in the freezer and they'll burn longer. It's especially good for slim table tapers that normally burn very fast.
* Batteries: A number of studies have shown that storing batteries in the freezer helps them retain their charge longer. This is less true for alkaline batteries (freezing extends their shelf life by only about 5%) than it is for NiMH and Nicad batteries often used in electronics. Keeping NiMH batteries in the freezer can boost battery life by 90%.
* Plant Seeds: Many (but not all) types of plant seeds will keep longer and germinate more successfully when stored in the freezer. Consult a copy of Seed Storage of Horticultural Crops, by S.D. Doijode, for more than you'd ever want to know about this fascinating topic. Many of the planet's most important seeds are being stored in the chilly "doomsday" seed vault in Norway.* Plastic Soda Bottles Filled with Water: Grandma knew that keeping her freezer chockfull helped to insulate it and perform better, and kept things cold longer if the electricity failed. I like to fill empty plastic soda bottles nearly full with water, and put them in the freezer to take up any vacant space. Plus they make convenient "drip-less ice cubes" to use instead of real ice cubes in my ice chest.
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* Wine cubes: When you have a little leftover wine from dinner, pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it. "Wine cubes" are perfect to use in making stock and other cooking.
* Wooden Voodoo Mask: A carved wooden mask I picked up at Mardi Gras last year is showing the telltale pinholes of a woodworm infestation. As they know in the furniture refinishing business, placing a wooden item in the deep freezer for a couple of weeks will kill woodworms and their eggs.
* Pantyhose: Like Grandma Yeager, I don't wear them, but my wife sure does. She swears that if she keeps her pantyhose in the freezer, they're less likely to run and they last longer. (I just can't imagine how she gets up enough courage to slide into an icy pair every morning.)
* Some Actual Food: Sure, we do keep some food in our freezer, but even that's a bit unusual. We store our spices and coffee in the freezer to keep them fresher, and by freezing our popcorn and popping it while it's still frozen, it pops lighter and with fewer un-popped kernels.
* Laundry: Grams always had a plastic bag filled with damp laundry in her freezer; she claimed that freezing clothing after she washed it made it easier to iron. We don't do that, primarily because we haven't ironed clothes at our house since the Johnson administration. Nor, for that matter, do we keep spare cash hidden in the freezer, like Grandma did. I remember once when I was a kid, Grams went to pay me for mowing her lawn. She peeled a stiff $5 bill off of her frozen girdle in the icebox and handed it over to me.
And you wonder why I have issues?
-- By Jeff Yeager
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