With two school-age children in the house, my husband and I are always in a rush every morning. We can hardly prepare breakfast, so making lunch for everybody is such a task. We started an experiment of buying in bulk, cooking in bulk and storing it in one-serve sizes in the freezer. It is easy to pop in the microwave in the mornings and voila, we can all have soup for lunch.
But there were a few times we forgot some items inside the freezer only to find it months after. By then, the food has discolored. I would just throw it away then, not understanding that it was not spoiled food, just freezer burned. Is it safe to eat?
UNDERSTANDING FREEZER BURN
We freeze food on the premise that in frozen temperature, bacteria cannot thrive. Food, therefore, is preserved, and not prone to spoilage.
Cooked food, like our favorite lunch – soup, is more prone to freezer burn that raw foods. Cooked foods have lost some moisture in the process. Therefore, cooked food has shorter shelf life compared to raw foods. Meat and chicken are the most prone to freezer burns.
Freezer burn happens when the food has not been tightly wrapped in air-tight packaging. Air is able to penetrate to the food thereby causing dehydration and oxidation, or in layman’s term, the air dried the food.
Sometimes, even unopened food may have freezer burn due to fluctuations in the temperature inside the freezer. When temperature rises above freezing point, the frozen food may melt a little, and water may drip. The frozen part may then be affected with freezer burn.
HOW TO SPOT FREEZER BURN
The part with freezer burn appears grayish or like brown leathery spots that make your meat look shriveled. It is usually found in the surfaces of the frozen food.
IS IT SAFE?
Freezer burn does not spoil the food. It remains edible and safe to eat. Although some choose not to because the texture and the taste have been affected. There is also a ‘freezer smell’ on your food. You can remove the part with the freezer burn, and consume the rest.
HOW TO PREVENT FREEZER BURN
Seal it in correctly.
- Seal your food in air-tight containers that are specifically for freezer use and are food-grade. Bags that do not meet these standards are prone to breakage when put inside the freezer.
- Vacuum-seal if you have a vacuum-sealer. It will trap in the moisture of your meat and foods so quality is preserved. It will also keep out moisture.
- If you don’t have a vacuum-sealer, wrap the food twice.
- If you are using a container, for soup, put a plastic on top of the lid to keep frost out.
Maintain the temperature in your freezer.
- Avoid unnecessarily opening the freezer. If you have to, don’t keep it open for a long time.
- Check and regulate the temperature of your freezer. It should always be set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- A self-defrost freezer is more prone to cause freezer burn because of the fluctuations of the temperature. Try a manual-defrost freezer instead.
- Cooked foods should first be cooled down before placing it inside the freezer. You can It is good to freeze water in containers and place it inside the freezer to maintain the low temperature. Place inside the refrigerator first before moving it up to the freezer.
- Maintain your freezer in good condition. Clean it periodically. Listen to how the motor sounds. If it sounds any different, have a technician check on it before it totally breaks down.
Organize your freezer space.
- Label the foods inside your freezer so you don’t have to open each container to find out its contents. Also put the date when you placed inside freezer.
- First in, first out. Know what is inside your freezer by keeping an inventory tucked on your freezer door.
If you are able to follow these tips, you would be taking better steps to ensure the safety of your freezer foods. In the end, there is no wastage of good food. And the best-cut meat you were saving? It will leave your freezer in perfect condition. Grill it with your favorite concoction sauces and enjoy.
Food preservation for future use is both convenient and economical. Freezer burn is but a minor setback that can be resolved by making efforts towards avoiding it. When you are a busy house maker, you need all the tools and help you can get to make you more efficient. At the end of the day, here are the quick tips to avoid freezer burn:
- Know what is in your freezer by keeping a list of the contents in the outside of your freezer. That way, no food stays too long.
- Vacuum-seal to totally protect and preserve your foods.
- Maintain the correct temperature of your freezer – 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
No more freezer burns for you. Enjoy good quality and great-tasting foods from your freezer!