Freezer burn is a wound on the surface of food caused by exposure to air. Freezer burn is not harmful, but it can make our food unappetizing and even unhealthy. To prevent freezer burn, keep our freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, and store foods in tightly sealed containers or heavy-duty freezer bags with all air removed (i.e., vacuum seal). Freezer burn can also occur if we use a microwave oven to thaw frozen foods before cooking them. In this article, we will learn how to stop freezer burn.
What is Freezer Burn?
Freezer burn is a form of dehydration that occurs when ice crystals form in the food, causing it to lose moisture. This can happen when air reaches the surface of your frozen food or when you open your freezer and warm air enters it. The ice crystals remove moisture from the food, leaving it with a white or brownish appearance.
It can affect all different types of foods including meats, poultry, fish, and eggs. It’s especially common with meat products because they have large amounts of protein which are prone to drying out when exposed to too much oxygen for an extended period of time (like during defrosting).
What does freezer burn look like?
There are a few different types of freezer burn, but the most common is dehydration. Freezer burning occurs when food that has been frozen begins to lose moisture and form ice crystals.
The most common symptoms of freezing burn include:
-Dry, white spots on the surface of our food
-A loss of color and texture
-Discoloration at the bottom of our package.
What causes freezer burn?
Freezer burn is caused by air drying out the food. Air is a good insulator and will keep the cold in, but it can’t hold as much moisture as warm air. When the temperature drops below freezing and cools down our frozen food, any moisture left in it will become ice crystals. These ice crystals are what cause freezer burning on our meat, which then makes it look dull and discolored. To prevent this from happening, we must either add more moisture to our food or increase its time in the freezer.
What does freezer burn taste like?
The freezer burn we see on our food is a dry, brownish discoloration of food. It can also be seen as white or grayish color on the food. The affected area will be tough and hard to chew.
The taste of freezer burning may vary depending on what was being stored in our freezer, but it is generally described as an acrid flavor that’s similar to old cardboard or burnt toast.
Tips on preventing Freezer burn
Prepare your food before freezing it
We can prevent freezer burn by preparing our food before we freeze it. This means that we should:
- Freeze food quickly so as to not allow for any ice crystals to form.
- Make sure our food is dry before placing it in the freezer, as moisture will promote freezer burning.
- Use a food thermometer when freezing foods, especially meat and poultry products that might be undercooked in the center (this is especially important if we plan on refreezing these items).
- Defrost thawed foods slowly in the refrigerator, rather than at room temperature or on the countertop.
Don’t overfill or underfill your freezer
Overfilling your freezer can cause the contents to freeze unevenly, and this results in freezer burning. In addition, if too much food is packed into a small space, it will have less room to expand as it freezes—and that can lead to damage during defrosting. On the other hand, underfilling your freezer means that air isn’t circulating properly around all of its contents; this may result in frost buildup on the door or walls of your unit and inhibit heat transfer between shelves (i.e., each shelf will be colder than it should be).
Set your freezer to the right temperature
You can prevent freezer burn by setting your freezer to the right temperature. The recommended temperature for a freezer is 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius). To make sure you’re storing food properly, regularly check the temperature of your freezer with a thermometer. An easy way to do this is by placing the thermometer in an ice cube tray overnight and then checking its reading in the morning. If your freezer has an automatic defrost cycle, check it once every month or so to ensure that water isn’t collecting inside it.
Clean out and organize your freezer regularly
- Clean out and organize our freezer regularly. Make sure we have enough room in our freezer and then try to make the most of it by organizing items by type, date, and quantity. If we can’t find what we need because of poor organization, consider using smaller containers so that they are easier to identify among other larger packages.
- Don’t forget about the door of our freezer. If moisture collects at the bottom of this area as well as on shelves, it can lead to mold growth or even ice buildup on food stored there. This can also lead to “sweating” at times when condensation is present in large amounts (like during hot summer days).
Freeze your food in small batches
Freezing in small batches is a great way to prevent freezer burn. This is because when you freeze food in large batches, the air between each piece of food can get cold enough for moisture to form. This moisture will then drip down onto nearby pieces of food and make them soggy, which means they won’t stay fresh as long as they should.
If you want to freeze more than one meal at once, try making up several servings at once and freezing one meal at a time. For instance: If you want to cook two meals’ worth of lasagna, instead of making an entire pan and freezing that whole thing all at once (and potentially having it turn out soggy), make two pans’ worth of noodles and sauce separately; then assemble both pans’ worth into separate dishes before freezing them individually so they’ll be protected from freezer burning by their own lids or plastic wrap covers while they’re still frozen solid (the same goes for casseroles).
Use airtight storage containers
The best way to prevent freezer burn is by using airtight storage containers. Plastic bags, like those that your groceries are often sold in, are not airtight and will allow moisture in through the bag itself. That can lead to freezer burn, so if you’re using a plastic bag with meat or other food items you’ve purchased at the grocery store, make sure that you squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing it shut.
If you’re going to freeze something for an extended amount of time and don’t have an airtight container available, consider wrapping it in aluminum foil first (without letting any part of the food touch the foil). This helps protect from undesirable temperatures inside your freezer: if there’s too much ice present near your frozen goods then they won’t be able to freeze properly.
Rotate your foods to help prevent freezer burn
To prevent freezer burn, it’s best to rotate your foods. This means that older items are used first and newer items are used last. It’s also helpful to label all of your frozen foods so that you don’t accidentally use something that has been in the freezer for longer than recommended.
When rotating food, it’s important to note how often you need to rotate them based on the temperature and humidity levels in your freezer. For example: If the temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and the humidity level is between 40 percent and 45 percent, then once every two weeks will suffice; however, if these conditions aren’t met, then rotating every three months will be appropriate instead.
Squeeze out the air
- Squeeze out the air. If you have a vacuum sealer, use it to remove air from your food packaging and prevent freezer burn.
- Use a straw or drinking straw to remove excess water before sealing bags if you don’t have a vacuum sealer.
- Freeze in small batches if freezing liquids or soups—you’ll preserve quality in this way because large quantities of liquid expand when frozen, causing them to lose their flavor and texture as they thaw out again.
Wrap your food
In order to prevent freezer burn, you need to protect your food from the air. This can be done by wrapping it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil or any other material that is air-tight. It’s also important that the piece of food being wrapped is completely sealed by whatever method you’re using so that no air can get through. Once again, labeling your packages with a marker will help you identify what’s in them and where they came from if any confusion arises later on down the road.
Freezer burn is a common issue for people who store food in the freezer or refrigerator. It can ruin your meats and vegetables, but there are ways to prevent it. Freezer burn typically occurs when food is left unrefrigerated for too long and the moisture inside turns into ice crystals that then dry out the surface of whatever they’re covering–like vegetables exuding liquid onto cardboard packaging. When this happens repeatedly over time, it leads to a crusty brown discoloration on certain areas of your food items: hence why we call it “freezer burn.” If we know how to stop it, then we can protect foods from discoloration.