Freezer burn can have a hugely negative impact on your food. But how do you know what it is, how to spot it and what to do to prevent it? Well keep reading and we’ll explain all there is to know about freezer burn:
What is Freezer Burn?
Freezer burn is when frozen food hasn’t been stored correctly and is therefore damaged by dehydration and oxidation. This is where the air reaches the food and why storing food in airtight containers and/or wrapping food in plenty of cling film is vital.
The first thing you’ll want to know is how to go about detecting it. In this section, we’ll look at the telltale signs of freezer burn and the easy ways to detect it on your food:
How Do You Know if Something has Freezer Burn?
Your senses will really come into play here as it can be detected both through visual clues as well as smells. One of the first things to check, however, is the packaging. Are there any tears in the cling film? Has the seal on your airtight container become damaged at all? Were your freezer bags not sealed correctly?
These are the first things to look for. If you can spot a way for air to have seeped into your frozen food then you’ll have found the cause. Knowing what caused it in the first place is very important as it will allow you to fix that broken container or dispose of that leaky bag.
Foods may show the following symptoms when affected:
- Are there brown or grey coloured spots on the food? This is particularly prominent on red meat that has freezer burn. On some poultry and fish, these spots might also be white in colour.
- Has the affected food become wrinkled? As the air gets into contact with your food, it causes it to dry out and then wrinkle. Wrinkled, dry areas on your food can be a sign of freezer burn.
- Does it smell different? It won’t necessarily smell off but it can take on a slightly artificial/plastic smell. It’s a particularly distinctive smell, however, so you’ll know instantly whether your food has been impacted or not.
These are the steps you need to check to determine whether or not your food has been affected.
How Does Meat Get Freezer Burn?
Meat can get affected by it like any other food. Ultimately, it comes down to air getting into contact with the surface of the meat and then causing it to dry out. This is why freezer burn often appears as dark wrinkled patches because the air has drawn all of the moisture out of the meat.
What Does Freezer Burn Smell Like?
For this, you’ll need to know what you frozen products would normally smell like. When you smell something that has freezer burn you’ll know it based on what it normally smells like. It’s actually somewhat difficult to describe. It smells slightly off but almost artificial.
Knowing how to store food properly in the freezer will help you to prevent it. That’s why this section is so important so give it a read to understand the best approach to avoiding freezer burn:
How Do You Prevent Freezer Burn?
Ultimately, the main way to prevent freezer burn is to prevent air from getting to your frozen food. This means you need to use good-quality freezer bags, airtight containers with tight-fitting lids and plenty of cling film.
When using airtight containers, if you’re not convinced the seal is 100% impenetrable then wrap the container in a layer of clingfilm to provide an extra bit of protection.
When using freezer bags, make sure you stick to the super thick ones. Many of the freezer bags you can pick up in the supermarket have a poor seal around the edges and over time will let a small amount of air creep it. So spend a little more and avoid losing your food to freezer burn.
If you have access to a vacuum-sealing machine then this is the best approach to take, especially for meat and fish products which can become easily impacted by freezer burn.
Finally, check your freezer temperature. Ideally, your freezer should be around -18°C. Double-check your freezer is set to this temperature as a higher temperature can increase the risk of freezer burn.
As always, follow our guidelines for freezing food and you’ll already be in the best position to prevent it from impacting your frozen food.
How to Prevent Freezer Burn on Meat?
Preventing it on meat is the same as preventing it on any foodstuff. You need to do all you can to prevent air from getting into contact with your food. This can be throw layers of clingfilm, vacuum sealing, thick freezer bags, airtight containers or a combination of all of these.
Does Vacuum Sealing Prevent Freezer Burn?
Any steps you can take to remove air from your food, especially meat, will go a long way to preventing the risk of freezer burn. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a vacuum sealing machine then this can work really well. If not, then you can actually use sandwich bags and a pot of water.
Place your meat into a sandwich bag and slowly lower it into the water. The pressure of the water will push the air out. Once the bag is almost submerged, seal it up. You’ll want to use freezer bags with a tight seal to ensure no air can enter.
If you’ve got food that has been affected by freezer burn then this is the section for you. We’ll look at the best way to deal with food that has it and whether you can actually eat the food or not:
How Do You Remove Freezer Burn from Food?
Removing freezer burn is usually as simple as taking a sharp knife and carefully slicing it off. This is particularly easy if it is solely on the surface and/or only on one edge of the product. Unfortunately, if an entire food item has been impacted then your best option may be to throw it out.
If the freezer burn is patchy then you can leave it and hope that you cannot taste the difference. This is often the case on products such as ice cream where it will show up as tiny ice crystals which will be challenging to remove but safe to eat.
How Do You Get Freezer Burn Taste out of Meat?
The only way you can remove the taste of it is to remove the signs of it from the meat. Take a very sharp knife and carefully cut away any signs of from the surface of the meat. You need to try and avoid cutting away any good meat to avoid unwanted wastage.
Finally, this section is all about safety. We fully appreciate that when it comes to food, especially meat, there is extra precautions that many people like to take to avoid falling ill or worse. That’s why in this section of our article we are looking at all the safety and health aspects:
Is Freezer Burn Safe to Eat?
Freezer burn is actually completely safe to eat and won’t harm you in any way. When you notice your steak has turned a dodgy brown colour it’s easy to freak out a little and immediately assume it needs to be thrown out.
But freezer burn is simply where the air has dried the surface of the food out. This isn’t going to have any impact on your health, fortunately.
However, what it will impact is the taste. It can either make the food taste a bit plastic-like or it can make the food completely bland. Freezer burn can and will make your food just not taste quite right.
So although it’s completely safe, it won’t be particularly enjoyable. That’s why you should do all you can to prevent it and then if you have failed at that then to cut it off the affected food.
Can Freezer Burn Kill You?
Freezer burn will NOT kill you. It’s easy to become over-cautious when it comes to storing food, especially meat. When you see your meat has turned a dodgy colour and no-longer smells quite right it’s easy to understand why you would assume it’s dangerous.
But it’s not. It’s perfectly safe to eat.
Can You Eat Meat that has Freezer Burn?
You certainly can. It won’t harm you in the slightest. However, the texture will be odd and the taste will be awful. That’s why you’ll want to remove any signs of it from the surface of the meat to ensure you can still enjoy it.
Can Freezer Burn Cause Food Poisoning?
Provided that the food was stored correctly in the first place then it won’t cause food poisoning. You’ll only get food poisoning if you have incorrectly frozen and/or reheated your food.
If you have any further questions then feel free to drop a comment at the end of this article and we will do all we can to help you out: