Outdoor Freezer – an experiment on whether already frozen food can be kept continually frozen in a box outdoors in the cold Minnesotan winter.
January is the coldest month of the year here in frozen Minnesota. It was -16˚F (-27˚) which is about the average temperature for this time of the year. By mid afternoon, the mercury barely made it to climbed to 5˚F (-15˚). The only consolation is that it is currently bright and sunny. Thank God for the sunshine! Sunshine and staying indoors help. Not much fun to go outside when it is that cold…brrr!
Inspiration from Little House on the Prairie
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The past week has been dreadfully cold. Hunkering indoors during the holidays, I was reminded of my favorite childhood stories from Little House on the Prairie which I enjoy to this day.
In the book “Little House in the Big Woods”, Pa Ingalls shot a bear which had just killed a pig. He brought both the bear and the bacon home and they had lots of fresh meat that year for the winter. Since the days and nights were so cold, the pork in a box and the bear meat hanging in the shed were solidly frozen. Now…that’s a thought! Haha! I wondered if it would work if I did that. There was only one way to find out.
Turning off the Garage Refrigerator in the Winter
Although we have a refrigerator in the garage, it is actually warmer in the freezer compartment than it is in the un-insulated garage. When that happens, I usually move everything indoors and unplug the refrigerator. I will leave all my dried ingredients in there because the temperature is sufficiently cold in the refrigerator section. In fact, sometimes it is actually too cold and everything in there is frozen. All canned drinks have to be brought indoors or they will literally freeze and explode. I had that happen once and it was a mess.
So, I transferred everything from that freezer to the one in the kitchen. However, I had more food than I was able to fit in the kitchen freezer. There was no way we could eat all that food in a day or two. It was time to find out if I could actually store food outside in the winter.
My Outdoor Freezer
I got a large plastic container from the basement to make it into my Outdoor Freezer. The perfect place for this Outdoor Freezer is on our top level deck just beside our sun room. This deck has has no stairs and I can keep an eye on it from the sun room.
I put a few frozen packets of food into the container and place a few bricks on top of the lid to prevent any animals (mainly raccoons) from getting into the box and helping themselves. We have never had raccoons on our deck but who knows?
I check the contents more or less daily to make sure they are totally frozen and they are. In fact, the meat looked like they have some freezer burns on them. The texture definitely suffered because it really is that cold out there. The temperature in the kitchen freezer is -2˚F (-19˚) and so temperatures ranging from -10˚F (-23˚) to -20˚F (-29˚) are more than enough to freeze anything!
Caution – This Trail is only Experimental
I started this Outdoor Freezer out of curiosity and only for a short period of time, about 2 to 3 weeks. Outdoor temperatures fluctuate daily and so you have to be ready to transfer the food into a freezer should it warm up. I also made sure to check it daily and that was a pain since I had to bundle up to get to the box even though it was just outside the run room. No way was I going out there in the frigid weather without my jacket!
Again my Outdoor Freezer is purely experimental. According to Michigan State University, a refrigerator and freezer provide a controlled, protective environment for foods. Storing perishable foods placed outdoors, in a garage, on a balcony or patio exposes them to fluctuating temperatures and this may not be safe. To read more, please click –> here.