How to Prevent Freezer Burn
Buying food in bulk can be a great way to save money, especially during warm weather months when local produce is abundant. However, there are those times when you pull out the food and find that it’s dry, discolored, and funky smelling because of freezer burn. Here are few tricks and tips on how to avoid that fate!
1. Understand how freezer burn works. When you freeze food, the water molecules in it form into ice crystals. If one spot on the food is colder than the other, the water molecules will sublimate, migrate and form ice crystals on the coldest spot, leaving the other parts dehydrated. If there’s any fat in the food (such as in meat) the dry spots may get oxidized, which changes the flavor and smell (for the worse).
2. Keep the freezer temperature as constant as possible. Temperature fluctuations cause a difference in temperature between the solid food and the air surrounding it, which encourages water molecules to sublimate.
* Try to not open the freezer unless you have to and, when you do, don’t linger with the door open, peering into the frozen abyss.
* Fill plastic containers with water and put them in the freezer. Make sure there’s room for expansion. This will help stabilize the temperature in the freezer.
* Don’t put hot food directly into the freezer. Sticking hot food in the freezer can cause a drastic change in temperature. Put it in the refrigerator first to let it cool before freezing.
3. Keep the temperature in your freezer below 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C). Freezer burn only happens when temperatures fluctuate above 0 degrees F. Use a freezer thermometer to make sure the freezer is cold enough.
4. Package food tightly. When the surface of food is exposed to air, the water molecules have a chance to sublimate and migrate. When you’re getting food ready for the freezer, try to make sure as little of the surface is exposed as possible.
* You can find many products that are sold to especially help prevent freezer burn. These include: thick sealable plastic bags, heavy plastic containers, and freezer safe glass. Also, using a combination of a “freezer” plastic wrap first and following up with heavy-duty aluminum foil creates a barrier against moisture.
* Take the time to press the air out when you seal them by putting a straw into the bag and zipping the bag around it. Suck the air out through the straw then seal.
* Don’t forget to leave enough room, however, for food to expand as it freezes (or else the container or packaging can break, making freezer burn more likely to happen).
Soup can be stored in containers, leaving enough headroom for expansion, but adding a layer of plastic wrap to “seal” the surface of the soup.
5. Don’t store food in the freezer for too long. The more time food spends in the freezer, the greater the chance of freezer burn. When freezing a food item, do an Internet search for freezing guidelines. Write “Use by (date)” on the package and be sure to eat it before then.