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We had a chest freezer for years, until one day it popped and fizzled to death leaving me stranded with a huge amount of food which wouldn't fit into my main fridge freezer. Mum came to the rescue as she (bizarrely) had a 'spare' under-counter freezer, this decades old Hotpoint 8709 model. It didn't hold the entire contents of my chest freezer and we wasted a lot of food, cooking and eating as much as we could but there's only so much parboiled frozen cabbage you can eat in the course of two days. Anyway, Mark collected the freezer and with a sigh at the 'oldness' of it I swore I'd replace it ASAP.
The thing is, it's been a brilliant freezer and I've decided to keep it for a while - in fact the thought of replacement has barely crossed my mind! Yes, it's tired looking and yes there are a few scratches on it. I'm not really bothered about this as the rest of the appliances in my kitchen are good looking so a naff looking freezer doesn't matter too much.
It's so easy to use; simply plug and go! There's a Fast Freeze option which gives an extra strong burst of cold air; useful when freezing meal portions if you've cooked extra stew or Bolognese, or if you want to quickly freeze a whole chicken or joint of meat. Fast Freeze operates at the push of a button and a light illuminates to remind you you have the freezer on this function, it's designed to be used for short periods as ice crystals will form inside food if you keep it on constant Fast Freeze - when mum used it she always had it on this setting and spoiled almost a full seasons vegetables from her garden just prior to giving me the freezer.
There isn't *nearly* as much space as I had available in my chest freezer, but the drawers make it easier for me to organise my frozen foods in boxes and bags so that the stuff which would ordinarily be at the bottom of the chest freezer (possibly never to see the light of day again!) can be stacked inside the drawers where I can force myself into a modicum of organisation and actually see what food is available. There are two pull out drawers (the middle two) with the top and bottom ones having flap down doors and acting more like shelves that drawers. I personally prefer the shelves as it seems easier to stack boxes in and simply pull them out as required rather than going to the bother of having to level out drawers for them to open and close. The drawers themselves are made of wire with ridiculously large gaps, this makes them unsuitable for anything of a small size or unfrozen products in bags as things can drop through the gaps and freeze in weird shapes. I mainly use the drawers for trays of chicken legs, steak and other meats as this helps me to conserve space in my main fridge freezer and also keeps the meats together.
The door to the freezer can be swapped to open on the left or right, I know this is an easy job as I watched Mark swap ours over just last week when we moved into our new house. The job took him five minutes and has made it much easier to hunt through the freezer in its new placement - at some point a new seal has been fitted to the freezer, you can tell as it's sparkling white compared to the rest of the appliance and I seem to recall mum saying this was her a couple of years ago after noticing a leak from the door area. As far as I can see this is the only thing that has been repaired in the freezers lifetime and I think that's pretty damned impressive.
The Hotpoint 8709 doesn't ever ice up, keeping the interior cold enough for the food to remain frozen but not stupidly so to cause a frost inside. Every so often we get a small patch of frosty ice develop on the very bottom of the freezer and although it doesn't get worse, this is usually the prod we need to defrost it - honestly, defrosting takes less than half an hour as it's so clear of ice that a single bowl of boiling water placed in the bottom of the freezer will have it clean and frost free again. This is seriously the lowest maintenance freezer I have ever used!
There's a star rating system on the door which bears absolutely no correlation to today's energy stars, so the revelation that this is a three star-er probably doesn't really mean anything. Earlier this year however I had an energy usage survey undertaken on our house and the guy who did the survey said my appliance may be old but that didn't necessarily mean it was going to eat electric - I noticed absolutely no difference to my electric bills since I first plugged in this freezer and that's all that really matters to me! I've noticed a low 'hum' develops when I press the Fast Freeze button and I'd guess this is when the energy consumption goes up, although I so rarely use this function that it's neither here nor there.
I have absolutely no idea of the capacity in litres of this freezer but can confirm that this 33-and-a-bit inch tall freezer holds much more than I initially thought it would. As a family of six we do a larger than average weekly shop and need room to store everything, not to mention the fact that with this freezer I can stock up on bargains if I find for example lamb joints or cod fillets on special offer - this actually works out far better than my old chest freezer as I'd stock up to a ridiculous level, things would fall to the bottom and be forgotten for sometimes a year before being thrown away due to freezer burn or simply being too old for consumption! The Hotpoint 8709 will hold dozens of boxes and Tupperware containers, while the top shelf is perfect for supermarket size pizzas (they won't fit in the drawers) and during the summer I dedicated the bottom shelf to tubs of ice cream, ice lollies and bags of ice cubes.
You can write on the drawer fronts what is contained within, but for the type of foods I freeze this isn't particularly useful as by opening each drawer I can see at a glance what's inside. Mum made full use of it however as a plastic bag of frozen leeks looks very much the same as a plastic bag of white cabbage so it helped her to organise her veggies simply by making a quick note to herself on the actual drawer fronts. Also, adding the date of freezing helped to ensure she was eating her food in the correct order and not storing things for a stupid length of time.
If you're looking for a budget under-counter freezer and aren't fussed about having a brand new appliance then you really could do a lot worse than this one. It's not available brand new anymore (and probably hasn't been for a long time) but they regularly appear on Ebay under the model name of Diamond Ice rather than the model number - you can pick up this freezer in great condition for around £30, and I think that's an absolute bargain for such a reliable (albeit not terribly attractive) appliance.
I was given a Hotpoint 8709 under counter freezer twelve months ago to the day and it's served me so well that I thought I would tell you about it. Now, this is an older model so I don't know whether you'll buy it online although I have since seen them advertised on Ebay and other such places.
My freezer is different to the model pictured above in that the drawers are all the same size and they have squeezed four smaller ones in. This is actually better for my purposes, although please be aware that the height available in each drawer is only around seven inches so you won't be storing your Christmas turkey in here!
The drawers are laid out with the two middle ones being normal pull out drawers and the top and bottom drawers are pull down fascias and the drawers don't actually pull out of the freezer. Again, ideal for me but remember to think about whether this design will actually suit your needs before purchasing this freezer.
The reason I was after a second freezer was because that year I had a glut of several vegetables which I grow in my garden. I have a normal upright fridge freezer but wanted something I could dedicate to my vegetables and also the odd meal that I have cooked and frozen.
This freezer is perfect. The drawers pull out smoothly on their runners, the drawer faces have a space for me to write what each one contains and cleaning it is an absolute dream. I have only had to clean the freezer twice since it was given to me and I have been pleased both times that it doesn't freeze up as I was expecting, especially as it is such an old model. I simply have to unplug the freezer and leave it standing for an hour with the door open, then a squirt of Fairy Power Spray and a damp cloth will leave it as sparkling clean as any ten year old freezer can be!
There is a Fast Freeze function which is operated by way of a simple switch inside the freezer. I have found this ideal for when I am making sorbet as it does manage to freeze the pulped fruit much quicker than in my primary freezer. I actually keep my freezer on the Fast Freeze operation as it keeps all my frozen goods rock hard but doesn't cause any freezer burn, an experiment recently where I took electric readings on all my electrical items proved that keeping it on Fast Freeze has a negligible effect on the amount of electricity I used.
Now, as I said this was second hand when I received it although I have known the lady since before she bought it new. I can honestly say that Hotpoint have proved once again that their products will stand the test of time. This freezer is around twelve or thirteen years old and the only issue I can see with it is that the rubber seal has started to perish slightly in the top corner, presumably caused by the constant opening of the freezer and the 'pull' this creates on the seal. This, however, doesn't cause any problems whatsoever with the function of the freezer so I shan't bother getting a replacement seal just yet.
This under counter freezer is a little taller than others on the market, standing at just over 34 inches which I believe is slightly higher than some standard modern worktops. Indeed my daughter's worktops are only 33 1/2 inches tall, luckily I have higher work surfaces in my kitchen so the freezer slotted in nicely but I would certainly suggest you measure carefully before purchasing one, especially if you have a space where you specifically want your freezer to stand. Other measurements you might need to be aware of are the fact that it is 21 1/2 inches deep (from front to back) and 19 1/2 inches wide.
I think it's fantastic, and has saved my sanity after thinking last year that I was going to waste so many fresh vegetables. Even for such an older freezer it does it's job very well indeed and I have had no cause for complaint. Granted, it looks like an 'old fashioned' freezer but then it IS an 'old fashioned' freezer but I'm of the mind that as long as it does the job then that's fine.
I cannot complain about this freezer at all. If you like the sound of it then you could probably pick one up for around £10 - £20 on Ebay, I have even seen the exact same model on Gumtree recently for a fiver! So if you need an under counter freezer but haven't got the money for a super-duper brand new model then this is one well worth considering.
Short name: Hotpoint 8709