My chest-style freezer is stuffed to the brim. The only thing I find when I look into it are plastic quart containers of half-baked plum tomatoes. I like those tomatoes, and I want them in the freezer, but I don't want them to cover the entire top layer so that I have to move fifteen containers of them before I can go any deeper.
And deeper is where the good stuff is. (Beware: possible falling metaphors ahead!) In my freezer, deeper is the home of spare ribs and lamb shanks and big organically grown roasting chickens. Deeper is where I keep the romano beans and roasted red peppers that I put away by the bushel in mid-September.
The poblano chiles are deeper, for example. If I want to make rajas, with onions and poblanos and potatoes all cut in strips, first I have to struggle through those quarts of roasted plum tomatoes.
I need signposts in my freezer, for it's obvious that I don't know where I'm going. I need to organize it, with a place for everything and everything in its place. We all know how long that would last, even if I could pull myself together sufficiently to straighten it out. Twenty pounds of frozen cranberries or ten pounds of coffee beans would arrive one day from the supplier and in my haste to create space for them I would dislodge all those carefully laid-out signposts.
My husband prepares himself well for freezer-diving. He wears gardening gloves to avoid frostbite as he moves twenty packages of organic ground beef from the right side to the leftthe better to find the 4-liter bag of milk that we know is "deeper." He definitely has more stamina than I do; he will doggedly continue the search for a missing package of lamb shanks long after I've given up and changed the menu to canned tuna.
Now this is not a question of labeling. I actually do label some of the things I put into the freezer. I write "tom sauce" and the date on a slip of paper and fasten a tip of the paper between the container and its lid (there's many a slip twixt the quart and the lid). Or I write "chick stock" and the date, or "ricotta whey" and the date. Or I write "D" on an index card and rubberband it to a package of dandelion greens, so I'm not surprised by their bitterness when I thought I was serving up kale. (Other greens remain unlabelled: I see no reason to distinguish between kale and mustard and chard and collards.)
If I could just arrange the freezer contents so that everything is on the top layer and nothing lurks mockingly at the bottom, I would feel successful, organizationally speaking. When will they invent a one-layer freezer for our convenience? It would need a dedicated room, of course. But perhaps the freezer could lie beneath the floorboards, which would be equipped with numerous trap doors to access the freezer contents. No, I think this is a non-starter.