Learn What Freezer Burn is and How To Prevent Freezer Burn from happening in the first place. These simple tips and tricks will make the meat, vegetables, and even ice cream in your freezer taste great and last longer!
To have the freshest, best-tasting food and manage your grocery budget, you'll also want to know What Foods to Buy Where.
Table of Contents
What is Freeze Burn and How Do You Prevent It
Filling your freezer with sale items or buying in bulk is a great way to save money when feeding your family, especially if you meal plan. Many of us fill our freezer with food for the month or season for this reason. Sadly, sometimes these handy, money-saving stocks of food fall prey to freezer burn. To get more value for your money, you need to know How to Prevent Freezer Burn.
What is Freezer Burn?
The first question we should answer is, what is freezer burn? Freezer Burn happens when food becomes dehydrated (loses moisture) and oxidized due to cold air reaching the food. Freezer burn does not make food unsafe; it causes dry spots that don’t taste good and aren’t as appealing.
Freezer burn is easily identifiable as most foods become discolored, and dry, and ice crystals start to form. For example, beef and pork may turn an unappetizing shade of leathery brown; chicken and fish may appear pinker with bright white spots throughout.
What Causes Freezer Burn?
The biggest culprit of freezer burn is air reaching the food, causing it to lose moisture and become dry and dehydrated. This leads to dry sections affecting the look, taste, and texture of meats, poultry, produce, and other frozen products.
Best Freezer-Friendly Recipes
Best Ways to Prevent Freezer Burn
Here are the best ways to prevent freezer burn and keep food looking and tasting good after staying in your freezer.
Use a Vacuum Sealer
One of the best tools for preventing freezer burn is to get a vacuum sealer for your food. (Foodsaver is one of the best brands) A vacuum sealer will keep any air from getting to your food, stopping crystallization from moisture in the air, and freezer burn from the cold air on your food.
Make Sure All the Air is Out
To prevent freezer burn without a vacuum sealer, you can use traditional freezer bags pushing all of the air out from around the food. Just make sure they are the thicker freezer bags, not just the regular ones.
Tip: A great way to get the air out is to dip the bag into a large bowl of water with the top slightly open. The water pressure will push excess air out from around your food.
Make Sure Food is Cold
It's important not to place hot or warm food in your freezer. This will vary the temperature within the freezer drastically. It's better to place your food in the refrigerator to bring its temperature down before placing it in the freezer.
Wrap Meats In Butcher Paper
You can prevent freezer burn without plastic if you prefer. A great option is to wrap meats tightly in butcher paper to give a thick, secure protective layer. Small and irregular items like frozen fruit and vegetables are easily stored in glass jars inside your freezer after being individually frozen on a cookie sheet.
Keep the Correct Temperature
It’s essential to keep your freezer at the correct temperature - zero or below. You may think that a slightly higher temperature may prevent freezer burn, but that’s not true. To prevent food from mold and bacteria growth, it must be at zero or below.
It may be handy to get a freezer thermometer to ensure yours is at the correct temperature year-round. This is important if you have a freezer in the garage where there may be seasonal temperature variances, especially in summer.
Keep An Even Temperature
To prevent freezer burn, prevent fluctuations in the temperature of your freezer. A great way to do this is to install a child lock on the freezer. A lock will prevent the absent-minded opening of the freezer from looking in or your kids from opening it and accidentally not closing it all the way.
Freeze in Small Batches
Filling the freezer with tons of food that needs to freeze at once will change the air temperature of the food already in there and may cause freezer burn. Try to freeze in smaller batches is the best idea.
Keep Your Freezer Full
A great way to prevent freezer burn is to keep your freezer 75% full. The frozen food takes up more room, so there is less room for warmer air to take up; this keeps the freezer running efficiently as well. However, don’t overfill it either. Air needs to circulate around the food to keep it at the right temperature.
Tip: If you have a lot of open space in your freezer, fill it in with bottles or gallons of water.
Label Food in the Freezer
If your food is labeled with the date, you’ll know when to eat it to retain its freshness, therefore, avoiding freezer burn in the future.
Flash Freeze Items
You can freeze most fruits and some vegetables to retain their nutritional value and then be eaten later. To flash freeze them and prevent them from sticking together, place individual items (strawberries, for example) on a parchment-lined baking sheet and stick them in the freezer until they are individually frozen. Then place in a vacuum-sealed bag or another freezer-safe container.
We love non-plastic Stasher Food Bags for this.
This method will prevent ice crystals from forming and ruining the food.
Is it Okay to Eat Food with Freezer Burn?
Yes, you can eat food with freezer burn as long as it’s cooked properly. It does not pose a health risk. Bacteria can’t grow below zero, so the food will be safe to consume. The taste may be compromised, though. However, you can cut off the discolored parts before or after cooking.
Tip: Slow cooking may help bring out the best flavor if your meat is slightly freezer burnt.
Why is My Freezer Causing Freezer Burn?
The good news is that it’s likely not your freezer causing the freezer burn, but rather how you are prepping and storing the food in the freezer. Removing as much air as possible is the best defense against freezer burn, so start there.
Also, as mentioned above, make sure your freezer is at least 75% full, but there is still a little room between items for air to circulate.
Related: How to Clean Your Fridge and Freezer
How To Get Rid of Freezer Burn Taste
Depending on how long the food has been in the freezer, you may be able to salvage it and still eat it. If it just started to gray or get the white spots, just cut those off and cook as you usually would.
If most of the food is covered in crystals and has lots of discoloration, then you may have to throw it out as it will have the freezer-burned taste even after it is cooked.
How To Prevent Freezer Burn on Meat
The best way to prevent freezer burn on meat is to take it out of its original packaging, and either vacuum seal it or use heavy-duty freezer bags and remove as much air as possible.
You can also individually wrap items in aluminum foil, butcher or freezer paper, or even plastic wrap to give it an extra barrier of protection from the air that causes freezer burn.
Tip: Always remember to label and date your food, so you know what it is and when to use it!
How To Prevent Freezer Burn on Vegetables and Fruit
It’s important to know which Fruits and Vegetables are best for freezing. Some require blanching and then freezing, so make sure you check this guide. Most of the time, it’s best to use the flash freezing method and then store it in an airtight container.
How to Freeze a Casserole to Prevent Freezer Burn
Once your casserole is assembled (either baked or unbaked depending on your preference) in either a glass, metal or an aluminum pan cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil to seal properly, make sure to label well with the name of the dish and date. Then, place it in the freezer.
How To Prevent Freezer Burn on Ice Cream
The important question!!
How to keep your ice cream from getting that mushy, tasteless film or ice crystals on top? The best way to prevent freezer burn on ice cream is to place a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap on top of your leftover ice cream, making sure all the air pockets are removed.
Then replace the lid and put it back in the freezer. Voila, fresh ice cream next time you go to eat it!
Tip: Make sure you don’t let your ice cream melt too much while serving it. This may cause freezer burn on the sides of the ice cream.
Trouble Shooting Freezer Burn
- Make Sure the Freezer Door is Closed - if your freezer door is even slightly ajar for any amount of time, it may cause all of your items in the freezer to be covered in frost or tiny ice crystals. Make sure the door is securely closed to prevent this from happening.
- Always Be Careful When Moving Food Storage Containers Around in the Freezer - If you’re too rough, containers may get torn or punctured, making them susceptible to air getting in and freezer burn.
- Place a Cup of Water in Your Freezer - we know it sounds strange, but placing an open container of water in your freezer (even after it freezes) increases its humidity level and slows the process of dehydration that causes freezer burn. Just replace the container every season.
- The Best Bags to Prevent Freezer Burn - These plastic Bags and these non-plastic bags if you want something reusable.