Learning how to prevent freezer burn is an important skill. It will save you so much money in the long run!
I am a huge advocate for eating leftovers, but that only works if you keep your food fresh in the freezer.
It’s also important to know how to prevent freezer burn when you’re buying in bulk. You can portion your meat into individual freezer bags, making meal prep and planning fast and easy!
Freezer burn can lead to lost money when you have to replace damaged inedible food.
There’s nothing more disappointing than when you go to pull food out of the freezer and discover it’s ruined.
If this is an issue, don’t worry! You have options to prevent freezer burn!
Let me help you make your food last longer in the freezer, so you can stock up on sales and meal prep in advance.
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What is freezer burn?
As the liquid inside your frozen food evaporates, it dehydrates, leaving behind dry, gray spots or icy crystals. A freezer burn occurs when moisture escapes from evaporating molecules, causing the food to dry out.
You may find that food becomes rubbery and spoiled and takes on the flavors and odors of other items in your freezer.
Like all living and once-living things, food also contains water. Whenever food is placed in the freezer, the water inside the food migrates to the coldest places.
As the water moves to the top of the food, it can form ice crystals. After those ice crystals evaporate, they leave behind grayish, dusty spots on meat, they make vegetables tough and crusty, and they leave behind that slimy film on top of ice cream.
These evaporated molecules can go into the air of your freezer, combine with other molecules from other foods leading to the mixing of flavor for anything in your freezer that is not in an air-tight container. This is where the odd taste in freezer-burned foods comes from.
What does freezer burn look like?
Freezer burnt meat has grayish, dusty spots. Frozen vegetables become tough and crusty. Ice cream, eggs, and other dairy develop a slimy film on top of ice cream. The more advanced the freezer burn the more discoloration you will see.
Moisture from the food ends up turning into ice crystals when it reaches the surface. When ice crystals evaporate, they can refreeze on the insides of packages or containers.
This indicates that either the food went into the oven at a higher temperature than desired, or moisture has leached out of it, causing it to be dehydrated in some areas.
When you see ice crystals on food, generally speaking, it means that the food has begun to get freezer burn.
How can you tell if food is freezer burnt?
When you pick up a bag of frozen vegetables, if the inside feels all clumped together in one big lump, it’s probably got freezer burn, so I’d suggest avoiding it. Look for grayish dry spots or ice crystals on food with see-through packaging and avoid those too.
Can you save freezer burnt food?
You can save freezer burnt food, depending on how severe the burn is, and how you plan on using the food.
Freezer burnt food can be saved if you add moisture back into the food…and catch it early!
Use the food in a soup or stew or simply adding water when cooking like when you steam vegetables or toss some water in when sautéing them.
The food will take on an unpleasant odor and taste from other items in your freezer as it sits.
The mixed flavors will take center stage making the entire dish taste spoiled.
Can freezer burn food make you sick?
No freezer burn will not make you sick, though it will drastically affect the flavor of your food depending on the severity.
Freezer burnt food is dehydrated and can often be rehydrated for cooking but if odors from inside the freezer work their way into the food already, the flavor can be off and make the food less than pleasant to eat.
How to prevent freezer burn
- Remove all air from food packaging – When you buy food at the grocery store it is usually not vacuum sealed. This means that the food is packaged with air allowing it to cool faster than your food. This will lead to moisture migrating towards the air pockets and forming crystals. An airtight vacuum seal with a FoodSaver prevents this. Be sure to use vacuum sealer bags made for the freezer as they are made from a different plastic than zipper freezer bags allowing air into the packaging over time.
- Freeze food fast – Before freezing your food, cool it completely. This will allow your food to freeze faster, preventing freezer burn. If you have a deep freezer use this for initial freezing of foods even the ones you plan on storing in your main freezer. This is because a deep freezer is colder and can help freeze your food faster than the freezer attached to your refrigerator. The faster you freeze your food the less time the water has to migrate out of your food leading to freezer burn.
- Keep your freezer temp steady – To prevent freezer burn your freezer should stay below 0 degrees at all times. A freezer thermometer is a great way to be sure that your freezer is at the right temperature. Avoid playing with the settings on the freezer to prevent the freezer from getting too warm. A colder freezer is less likely to lead to freezer burn than a warmer one.
- Keep the freezer door closed – The humidity and warmth in the freezer happens each time you open the door. Additionally, when the air cools, this may result in frost or ice crystals on packages. Opening the freezer too often will cause freezer burn, limiting the number of times you do so.
- Consider your freezer – When it eventually comes time to buy a new refrigerator or deep freezer consider the type. A freezer on bottom style refrigerator, and chest style freezers, trap the cold air in when you open it rather than allowing the cold air to fall out of the appliance.
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