Freezer Burn – What, Why, and How It Happens, and How to Prevent It

Food that hasn’t been properly wrapped well will suffer the dreaded freezer burn. This means your food can get dry, stringy, tasteless, or even taste worse.

This is a condition that occurs when frozen food has been damaged by dehydration and oxidation, due to air reaching the food. It is generally caused by food not being securely wrapped in air-tight packaging.

Why does Freezer Burn Happen?

Most likely, your food was not tightly wrapped enabling water molecules to escape and seek a better location.

It is likely to occur for items stored in the freezer too long. There is a limit to how long items should be stored in the freezer. Sooner or later the water molecules will find their way out of the frozen food to a colder place in your freezer.

The temperature of your freezer may have been above 0 degrees F. Freezer burn will set in from fluctuating temperatures above 0 degrees F.

When water molecules escape from your frozen food, it is also possible for oxygen molecules to seep in. The oxygen molecules can dull the color and modify the flavor of your frozen product.

What does Freezer Burn Look like? Can I still eat it?

Freezer burn happened when air reaches the food’s surface and dries the product. Freezer burn looks like grayish-brown leathery spots on the surface of the frozen food. The color of the food changes as a result from chemical changes in the food’s pigment during the freezing process. Freezer burn does not make the food unsafe to eat, it just causes dry spots in the food. You can still eat it but it will taste bad and the texture will probably be very tough and chewy.

With freezing, we can preserve the freshness of the marketplace, bring the freshness right to your own kitchen. It is best to defrost in the refrigerator, a microwave oven, or even in a warm oven. You want low temperature that gradually heats the food up. Most foods should be left in their freezer packaging while defrosting.

When food like steak is frozen as a method of preservation thousands and thousands of water molecules within the steak form ice crystals. These water molecules prefer the most hospitable environment- the coldest place in your freezer. The molecules migrate from the steak to the coldest place they can find, which is often the side of your freezer. The loss of these water molecules causes the steak to become dehydrated. The end result is freezer burn.

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