Right about now, you’re probably unpacking months’ worth of food from your refrigerator and freezer to make room for all that holiday food.
And you might have found some of it had been freezer burned (i.e. brownish, leathery spots indicate freezer burned meat).
Freezer burns are caused by cold air directly contacting your food and/or when your food dries out in the freezer.
Don’t fret, as freezer burnt foods remain safe to consume. The FDA recommends cutting off freezer burn spots before or after cooking (so you don’t have to taste the evidence that you failed to push all the air out of your plastic storage bag).
Preventing Freezer Burn
Use only freezer-safe containers, bags and wraps and get as much air out of the packages as you can. It’s the trapped air that will cause your food to dry out, discolor or develop “interesting” new flavors.
This means some frozen foods from the grocery store shouldn’t really go straight to the freezer. For best results, meats should be removed from their packaging and wrapped in freezer wrap and placed in a freezer bag with all the air forced out.
But knowing how to use your freezer in general can help maintain the quality of frozen foods longer.
Don’t put a bunch of warm food to the freezer at one time. This overloads the freezer, slows the rate of freezing, and can raise the temperature of frozen foods. To that point….
Set the freezer at 0°F. The higher the freezer temperature, the faster your frozen foods lose their quality.
Keep the freezer full. It seems logical that less food means you need less cold air to keep it frozen, but that’s actually not the case. A freezer operates most efficiently when it is at least two-thirds full.
Avoid prolonged storage. Make sure you eat the oldest food first. Long-term freezer storage is best suited to a manual defrost freezer, not a freezer compartment, which are mostly frost-free these days.
Make some breathing room. Leave space between items so air can circulate freely, which allows food to freeze as quickly as possible.
What tips do you have to prevent freezer burn? Let us know in the comments!