So why does this process affect some foods and not others? It can be so very frustrating.
Most of us have experienced a case of freezer burn on the foods that we had hoped to preserve within our home freezer. We pull out that package of beef steak and it looks awful. The meat is covered in ice, discolored, and looks like all the moisture has been drawn right out of it.
Well that is indeed what occurs when this phenomenon hits your foods. Freezer burn is a process of dehydration within our frozen food products and it can affect any food that is in a freezer.
It occurs when the moisture within our frozen meat, fruit, or vegetable is drawn to the surface and turns to ice crystals there rather than maintaining that moisture in the food.
The Food Isn't Bad - It's Just Not as Pretty or as Tasty
Freezer burn is simply a process of dehydration. Although your freezer temperature is very cold, water evaporates at low temperatures as well as at high temperatures.
If there is moisture within your freezer it will evaporate which means that any liquid within frozen foods will also evaporate if given the opportunity.
As most foods contain some degree of moisture within them, poor or loose packaging will allow the withdrawal of moisture from within your frozen food to occur quite rapidly unless you take steps to prevent it.
If freezer burn does occur then your frozen foods will discolor and your food will appear to be dehydrated. The moisture from inside your food will instead rest outside of it as ice crystals.
The now dehydrated meat or vegetable will often appear discolored. As the moisture leaves the food oxygen molecules enter it and cause the food to alter in color and taste.
Freezing can lock in nutrients and increase the shelf life of food
Are Freezer Burned Meat, Fruits, and Vegetables Safe to Eat?
Although the freezer burned food may now look as though it has gone bad, these foods are generally still safe to eat. The food may however lose some of its flavor when the freezer burn occurs.
The dehydrated freezer meats and vegetables may not be as appetizing in appearance or taste but as freezer burn is simply a process of dehydration the food is usually still safe to eat. These foods will generally rehydrate during the cooking process.
Freshness does count even in freezer foods so it is always best to keep your freezer foods as fresh as possible. Date your packages and don't overstock beyond what your family can consume in a reasonable time frame.
Correctly Package Food to Prevent Freezer Burn
The solution comes in knowing how to prevent freezer burn from occurring in the first place. There are three rules to keep in mind to help prevent freezer burn from affecting your foods: insure adequate packaging, correct your freezer's temperature, and insure that food is used within an appropriate time frame.
The number one rule for preventing freezer burn on meat, fruits, and vegetables is to tightly wrap your food. This way the water molecules are unable to escape and added oxygen molecules are not able to enter into the food product.
If you are freezing pre-wrapped products then double wrapping them or placing them within a tightly sealed plastic bag will help prevent freezer burn from occurring. If you are packaging your own freezer foods then remember to remove as much air as possible from your package, you can do this either by using a straw to remove the air, or by tightly double wrapping your food product before freezing it.
Most meats other than deli, bacon, or sliced meats, will store safely within your freezer for anywhere between four and twelve months. The longer food remains within your freezer than the greater the chance to stop freezer burn before it happens. It is therefor very important to insure that food is appropriately wrapped and dated before placing it within your deep freezer.
If foods are clearly labeled with the date that they were frozen then it is much easier to see which products should be consumed first. Remember that the longer food stays in a frozen state then the greater the likelihood of freezer burn occurring.
Freeze it, Can it, Dehydrate it, or Smoke it to Keep That Food Fresh
Regulate the Temperature of Your Freezer
Try to keep your freezer at a constant temperature. There is a correct freezer temperature and maintaining this setting will help to insure that your foods stay securely frozen for as long as possible.
Most foods will keep very well if frozen at zero degree Fahrenheit (minus eighteen degree Celcius). Maintaining this constant temperature will help insure that your frozen foods remain safe for consumption.
If temperatures in your freezer fluctuate above the zero degree Fahrenheit temperature then this will increase the likelihood of freezer burn occurring.
Food is expensive. If you are like myself then you take a lot of care to insure that you feed the best products to your family so follow these simple guidelines to insure that your frozen foods remain as fresh as they are able to.
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