How to Prevent Freezer Burn
You can prevent freezer burn by following simple steps to seal packages well, keep freezers at proper temperatures, and keep track of the time food spends in your freezer. Read these simple tips to keep freezer burn from ruining your planned party, special occasion, or taste for a frozen food that becomes spoiled due to freezer burn.
Preventing Freezer Burn On Frozen Foods You Eat
You may have had this experience before, but if not, picture this. You’ve made plans weeks in advance for a great cookout, inviting friends for a relaxing time with good food. You buy some burgers, chicken, and steaks around a month early so you won’t be rushing around shopping at the last minute. You take precautions to get home quick, freezing the meat while it’s still cold from the store.
The big day arrives. You pull the meat out that morning, and to your dismay find huge ice crystals have formed on the meat, which is also not of an appetizing color now. This is freezer burn. How did it happen, since you took precautions to prevent this mishap from ruining your party? Perhaps you need a refresher on how freezer burn develops, and how to prevent it from happening again.
If you want to stop freezer burn, you have to know what causes it. When foods are frozen, water inside the food begins to form ice crystals. Since food often freezes unevenly, these ice crystals form first on the coldest part.
As crystals form, water from other areas of your food migrates to this cold spot, effectively dehydrating the rest of the food. This is how freezer burn develops, as food becomes oxidized where the water has evaporated. An undesirable change in smell, texture, and most importantly, flavor is the end result.
The solution is to keep food at a consistent freezing temperature to prevent freezer burn. This requires monitoring the freezer temperature and keeping it consistent as much as possible. Keeping your freezer full helps too, so that when you open the door, your freezer doesn’t have to work harder than it should to cool everything down again. Fluctuations above Zero degrees Fahrenheit are when most oxidation occurs.
Once ice crystals begin to form, any oxygen that gets to the food will start the oxidation process. This means you should package food tightly so that the surface area is less exposed to air pockets and the greater potential for freezer burn. Some people use vacuum sealers to help, which does a good job of removing air in the package to create a secure seal that doesn’t leak.
Storage time is also an important factor for frozen foods. The longer something stays in the freezer, the more opportunity it has to develop freezer burn. There are even charts and tables available that show maximum freezing times for different foods. It is a good practice to write a “best by” date on frozen packages to determine how long it has been in the freezer, and whether it is still edible.
Preventing freezer burn involves keeping freezers at a consistent temperature, practicing good packaging techniques, and keeping track of how long items are stored there. The extra effort you spend doing these things ensures you good-tasting food that doesn’t get wasted by having to throw it away.