Has anybody here added fridge and/or freezer storage to their basement? If you were doing it all over again, what advice would you have?
We’re considering getting a freezer or refrigerator that would live in our non-temperature-controlled, 1920s basement. Currently our situation is we have a refrigerator that’s smaller than normal by American standards. My main issues are that it’s difficult to stock the fridge with enough fresh vegetables when shopping for two weeks. And in the summers I can barely jam the weekly CSA vegetables in there (which means items sometimes end up damaged). Plus the freezer is too small to stock with items such as homemade soup stock and any meaningful amount of make-ahead meals. Only room for a small quantity of anything in that freezer.
We’re not going to remodel the small kitchen to accommodate a larger, more useful fridge. Basement storage seems the more realistic route.
I started with the notion of adding a small chest freezer and living with my fridge challenges—which might ease up if I can process and freeze some items. Starting to weigh the pros and cons of freezer only or a fridge with freezer.
I’m going to start by looking at garage-ready models to see how realistic this possibility is. Our basement can get chilly in winter and humid in summer. Never gets hot.
I’m in Massachusetts and I would buy from a local appliance retailer. I wouldn’t be surprised if I run into the same issue.
Will share intel if/when I order.
(John Hartley - a culinary patriot eating & cooking in Northwest England)
I cannot help with American models which, I believe, are generally larger than European ones. However, the following may be helpful.
For many years in this house, we had a single appliance - fridge/freezer. When we remodelled, we created a utility room, off the kitchen, from about a third of the garage space, which created much more flexibility. So, we now have a small fridge in the kitchen built in to the units, under the worktop. It stores the likes of milk, sandwich meats, yoghurts. In the utility room, we have the “big fridge”, about 5 feet tall but narrow to fit the space. Drinks, fruit and vegetables go in there. And we also have the freezer - about 5.5 feet tall and standard width. This is a normal drawer type upright freezer. We would not contemplate a chest freezer for two reasons. Firstly, it takes up floor space, which we do not have (but have headroom space, of course). And second, chest freezers have always seemed so difficult to keep managed - our various drawers store different things - meat in one, vegetables in another, leftovers in a third, etc. Between the three appliances, we have enough cold storage for the two of us - even currently when we are buying less often but in larger quantities (or round Christmas when there’s always loads of food in the house).
Thanks for sharing your experience, @Harters. I’m taking note.
FWIW, the fridge-with-freezer in our kitchen is a counter-depth Liebherr installed by the lovely folks who sold us our house. A sleek but not useful refrigerator, both in terms of its small capacity and barely okay performance. That is why I’m looking to augment.
Since you want to store CSA stuff, a fridge might be better than a freezer. We bought a 13.9 cu ft Frigidaire for the garage with a top freezer and it solved our storage issues. Whether it’s used in the garage or basement, you will need to get a garage kit for your fridge which helps it maintain a constant temperature in varying degrees of heat and humidity. They are around 30 bucks.
We’re in the same boat. We have a fridge that’s simultaneously too large and too small–the freezer compartment is super-tiny due to the water/ice maker. We inherited this from the previous owner and are going to keep it until we somehow find the money to give the kitchen the renovation it so desperately needs. We also want a chest freezer, which will have to go in the garage since we don’t have a basement. There’s also not enough room in the garage for a full stand-up freezer.
We lived in the Netherlands for several years and our refrigerator was very small, but I wasn’t working and could shop for fresh vegetables, meat, dairy every other day or so. It had a very small freezer that we used for trays of ice cubes. We bought a chest freezer to supplement that because my husband had quarterly meetings at Ramstein AFB in Germany and could shop there and so we used the freezer to store things we couldn’t find like nicely marbled beef, Italian sausages, I can’t remember but it was the solution for us then.
Now, I have a large refrigerator with a nice pull-out bottom freezer drawer. We have a chest freezer in our basement because we tend to cook large batches of things and plan to put some away for when we don’t want to bother cooking. It’s only 2 of us. But I wouldn’t want a smaller capacity refrigerator because we don’t have easy access now to fresh markets for produce. Once a week DH has been venturing out for groceries and green things are precious. I haven’t left the house in 5 weeks.
I don’t have a LOT of knowledge about freezers, but here’s what we’ve been through:
We got a little chest freezer for the last house. Long story short, it was too small. We left it when we sold the house and got a bigger chest freezer when we moved here. So-
Beware the too-small chest freezer.
Also, upright freezers are much more convenient, although it would just about kill me to have all that frozen air dump out every time I opened the door. Chest freezers are more difficult to manage, contents-wise, unless you’re way more organized than I am (and most people are). I’m sure there’s stuff at the bottom of mine that’s embarrassingly old. I’m about to find out, because there’s some ice forming along the lid so I need to defrost. Hopefully afterward I’ll be able to fit TWO bags of ice in there at a time!
We have a side-by-side fridge/freezer in the kitchen that I truly and deeply despise. The narrow width especially of the freezer side is hard to manage.
We had a stand-up freezer in the basement for a while that I found on Craigslist. My wife became convinced of the benefit of a freezer but didn’t like the avocado green color or the size. We found a new home for that freezer. A few years ago a friend was moving and we bought their chest freezer. It fits into our finished basement much better and the top as become a helpful prep area for our bar top. The stand-up was easier to organize. I have a 5 gallon water jug https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71eGhJrztiS.AC_SY879.jpg that we use as a divider between meats and veg.
Home canning has taken a lot of pressure off fridge and freezer space and is a togetherness activity for us.
What works for us may not be the solution for you. From you description I would focus on a conventional American fridge/freezer and dip your toe into pressure canning with some shelving (Home Depot/Sam’s Club/IKEA) next to the fridge/freezer. YMMV.
Think about electrical power. What happens if/when the power goes out? That’s why I like canning - the product is all shelf stable. Not everything works of course. You can’t can lettuce. grin
Americans tend to refrigerate all kinds of things that don’t need to be. Condiments in particular. Buy UHT milk. Tomatoes.
If you go the chest freezer route, when we do a big shop we empty the freezer and reload. We keep meat on one side, veg on the other, and breads on the shelf over the compressor. Layering helps. Don’t bury all the chicken at the bottom. Some chicken, some pork, some beef, some lamb, some more chicken, some more pork, some more beef, some more lamb, … lather, rinse, repeat. This reduces rummaging about.
Eg: I also despise the side by side fridge / freezer I am currently living with, but I also dislike the below-fridge drawer freezer I usually live with - I miss the door space, and the choice of how to arrange it vs the drawer dump (though I have become creative).
We got a full size standing freezer week 1 of this situation - it can be run either as a fridge or a freezer, though. There is also an ancient garage fridge that I am constantly rearranging so produce doesn’t go bad, but that has a water dripping issue from the small freezer
Wish we had gotten something that was split in half - the fresh produce issue is real. If I was buying, I’d get a full size fridge with a larger than usual freezer. Vertical, definitely - a chest freezer would be my drawer freezer nightmare magnified.
There are two sorts: water bath canning for quite high acid foods (tomatoes, pickles) and pressure canning for nearly anything. You can do water bath canning in a big stock pot so the incremental investment is quite low.
Pickling and dehydration (to include smoking) are also long standing preservation methods. See https://www.britannica.com/topic/food-preservation (I’d scroll past all the bits about spoilage - I think we know those). Although home canning is less common in Europe than in the US it is interesting that the roots of canning that lead to commercial canning are in France and the UK.
I don’t believe oil is recognized as a preservative. Things like garlic-infused olive oil taste good but don’t last particularly long (not as long as oils not infused with bulbs or herbs).
I don’t think anything is perfect. I’m in and out of the freezer less than the fridge so freezer down makes sense. Organization of the upper bit means the things you use most often are on one side, but you can still open the whole fridge for big in and out.
That was my thinking as well, and the top works fine, as long as I stay on top of letting go of what needs to be let go, but the bottom freezer is sort of like a “chest” and I struggle to keep it sorted and make good use of the space. Until I get that figured out, I’m not buying another for the basement. Not that we have a basement.
The freezer has one “divider”, which helps, but more might be better, and they stopped making parts, so when something breaks I have to live with it.