My grandparents taught me a lot about money, particularly about thrift and frugality. After all, they had one of the greatest personal finance teachers of all time: Raising a family during the Great Depression. I learned so much from them, from basic lessons — like always live below your means and avoid debt like the plague — to more creative penny-pinching techniques, like how to make your own vinegar and how to fix a flat tire with a piece of aluminum can.
For my Grandma Yeager, many of her money-saving secrets had to do with her prized freezer/refrigerator, or “ice box” as she insisted on calling it until the day she died, harking back to the time when that most common of today’s kitchen appliances was, in fact, a rather coveted wooden box with a giant block of ice inside. Grams had some deep frozen secrets in her ice box, little tips and tricks for how you can save money by keeping some rather unusual items in your freezer.
10 Weird Things You Can Freeze
1. Cheap Booze
In the interest of full disclosure, my Grams was a teetotaler. Me, I need an attitude adjustment from time to time, and I’ve found that storing cheap booze — not just vodka, but all types of distilled spirits — in the freezer makes it taste smoother (and more expensive).
Next time you have a power outage, romantic dinner party or séance, look no further than your freezer for the necessary candle power. Keeping wax candles in the freezer makes them burn longer, and it’s particularly effective with slim table tapers that normally burn very fast.
Although the research differs a bit, a number of studies have shown that storing batteries in the freezer helps them retain their charge longer, particularly for NiMH and Nicad batteries often used in electronics. With those types of batteries, freezer storage can boost battery life by as much as 90 percent. You can also store alkaline batteries in the freezer, although the payoff is only about a 5 percent increase in shelf life.
4. 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” vault in Norway.
5. Plastic Soda Bottles Filled with Water
Grandma knew that keeping her freezer chock full helped to insulate it and help it perform better, keeping 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 “dripless ice cubes” to use instead of real ice cubes in my ice chest.
6. Wine Cubes
Speaking of keeping alcohol in the freezer, if you have leftover wine from dinner (is there such a thing?), pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze to use later when making stock and in other cooking. You can even mix in some minced herbs to make more flavorful “wine cubes.”
7. Wooden Duck Decoys
My grandparents’ freezer always had at least one or two of my grandfather’s wooden duck decoys jammed in there alongside a pork roast. Gramps knew from his years in the furniture refinishing business — placing a wooden item in the deep freezer for a couple of weeks will kill woodworms and their eggs.
Grandma Yeager never wore pantyhose, but my wife taught me this little trick. If you keep pantyhose in the freezer, they’re less likely to run and they last longer, even though they might be a little icy to slip on in the morning.
9. Some Actual Food
Sure, like Grandma Yeager, we do keep some real 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 unpopped kernels.
Grandma 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 bra in the icebox and handed it over to me.
And you wonder why I still have so many issues?
Photo Credit: Steve Johnson