On defrosting.

After weeks of putting it off I decided that today would be the day the freezer got a seeing to. Defrosting the freezer is undoubtedly one the crappiest jobs you can do in the kitchen, along with, at a push, cleaning the oven, scrubbing the bottom of the filter in the dishwasher and carving up a human corpse into small enough chunks to go through the waste disposal unit (on that last one it is highly advisable to check you have a waste disposal unit first, before you start the carving, or indeed before you murder someone in the first place). It is something of an technological oversight that we have never really come up with a quick fix for the iced up freezer. True, some freezers say they are frost free but that is just a lie; our last fridge/freezer was called frost free but I still had to defrost it once a year at least (for all its expensive German tech pluses it was pretty crap on the whole and when it died young we decided to save some money and drop down a notch or too, which is why I have to defrost this one three times a year: progress, eh?).

Much as you would when planning to decorate there are several steps you need to take before defrosting can begin in earnest. If you want you can turn off your appliance, but this is quite hard if your appliance is integrated and the twat who designed your kitchen put the plug behind the appliance and then decided the appliance should be slightly elevated meaning that to get to the plug it would actually be easier to go next door and knock a hole through the wall to get to the back (this part is easier if the person you have murdered is your neighbour, because then you won’t have to ask their permission). Once you have failed to turn off your appliance you need to empty the freezer section: there is no point waiting until you have consumed everything in the freezer because that will never, ever happen. Once you have filled a couple of bags for life with the contents make sure you wrap some beach towels round them because that will slow down the thawing process by as much as four to five seconds. Take out the drawers, and any shelves that are not frozen stuck by months of neglect, and place on one side for cleaning (one drawer will always have a couple of loose peas in it and there will also be some yellow ice in another, which you simply cannot explain.

Defrosting is really quite a misleading name for what happens next. When something defrosts it simply warms up slowly until it is no longer frozen, but what you are doing is in fact assaulting an accumulation of ice using a range of violent motions and inappropriate tools until it gives way. These tools may include a hairdryer (though personally I prefer to avoid mixing electrical equipment and dripping water), a large spoon, a spatula or fish slice and, if you are happy to buy a new freezer later the same day, a hammer and masonry chisel (incidentally, some of those tools can also be quite effective as murder weapons, though I have never heard of anyone being dehydrated to death with a hairdryer). You will also need the washing up bowl from the sink, despite it somehow never being wide enough or shallow enough to be very helpful, and you might consider laying another beach towel on the kitchen floor so that all the ice that flies out of the freezer has something to not land on and instead form treacherous puddles across your tiles.

Then begin scraping. You could decide to be methodical and work on one patch at a time but this is never going to last: you will become so pissed off with the first spot you try that you will feel urged to switch to another after a few seconds only to find that’s bloody stubborn too, and so on. It is only fifteen minutes in that you realise it is better just to leave the door open for a few minutes first to let some warm air in and then get started once physics has become your friend. You will forget this for the next time. And the time after that. Slowly but surely, with much sweating and cursing and your shoulders seizing up with the strain, the bottom of your freezer will fill up with slushy ice which you can then guide towards the washing up bowl with as much as a 60% success rate. Once you begin the scraping there isn’t much point stopping until the job is done (a tip I would also apply for when you’re sawing up your neighbours rapidly stiffening limbs). At one point you will be overcome by a sense of unmeasurable anger but this will be followed soon after by a very satisfying feeling that you may just be winning. Which in turn may make you feel quite pathetic.

The main problem you will have towards the end of all this buggering about is that if you haven’t unplugged your freezer you might find that a thin layer of new frost will start to form even as you’re clearing up the rest, meaning the task will take on a sisyphic nature which is likely to send you into a spiral of madness and paranoia (much as you will have for the next few months hoping desperately that no one comes to unblock your drains only to find the culprit is several kilograms of badly processed human flesh and fragments of spinal vertebrae). But what you must keep telling yourself is that it is just a fucking freezer, and while it may not be perfect it’s still a hell of a lot less frosty than it was when you started. It’s then best to close the door and let the freezer get back to doing what it does best (not hard when it only has one thing to do) before you lose patience and start to refill the drawers, carelessly spilling a couple of peas in the process. Once that’s done you can start to mop up the splash park that is your kitchen floor and promise yourself you won’t let the freezer get that bad again. But you will. Because you’re stupid.

G B Hewitt. 03.07.2021

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