Freezer burn is something that we all deal with, we buy our styrofoam-packed meat from the meat department with its absorbing pad underneath to catch excess blood, and we place it in the freezer until the following recipe requires that food. Your freezer burn is coming from poorly packed meats.
Did you know that food waste in the US is at an all-time high, with approximately 40% of all food purchases being thrown away, and this includes freezer burn? This equates to each American throwing away at least 1lb of food daily.
This article will delve into freezer burn and answer your burning questions on how to salvage these food products that may have ended up in the trash.
Let’s get into it.
Can freezer-burned food Be Saved?
It depends, but in most cases, there is a need to toss this food in the garbage. The Food Safety and Inspection Service, also known as the USDA, recommends that you should trim freezer burn from foods.
Let’s be clear. Freezer burn is a food quality issue, not a food safety issue, and it will not hurt you or anyone else if consumed.
Many foods with freezer burn only have slight damage and, if eaten, are perfectly safe, but for most of you, the first sight of freezer burn and the food is in the garbage when the truth is you could have salvaged the food and made a fantastic meal.
Trimming freezer burns from meats such as chicken, fish, and shrimp is a viable option for savaging this food.
Some pieces of frozen and dry food may never be salvaged, but if you have a pet, it’s a decent meal for a dog or cat with some preparation.
How do you identify freezer burn?
Freezer burn may not occur for reasons that may seem evident to you. It’s a process called sublimation which in this case is when the ice of frost turns into the gaseous phase and draws moisture from the meat. It’s a naturally occurring process, and you have done nothing wrong.
So let’s change the word sublimation to dehydration; when this transformation is taking place, it will draw moisture from your frozen product, it doesn’t necessarily happen uniformly, and this is why you get spots of dehydration, say, on chicken or ground beef.
The process happens when your freezer rises above 0℉, and now you have the first clue on how to prevent the process of sublimation.
Identifying meat that has freezer burn is relatively easy. It is going to have gray spots or could be gray all over. This is a sure sign of freezer burn.
You may be able to hear if your meat has a freezer burn. If you pick up a package and ice crystals are cracking, you can be sure it’s moisture that has been drawn for the meat.
How do you eliminate the taste of freezer burn?
Prevention is always better than cure so let’s look at what you can do to prevent freezer burn.
It’s already been established that freezer burn is about food quality and not food safety, but there are definite things you can do to help prevent freezer burn.
Here are some top tips for preventing freezer burn.
- Limit the supply of frozen means and veggies in the freezer. Keeping products like meats, chicken, and fish are frozen for extended periods is the main culprit of freezer burn. Even the best packaged and protected foods can get freezer burn, so shorter storage times frozen will help.
- Bach to the first clue, sublimation takes place at above 0℉. Limit opening the freezer door. Every time you open the freezer door, the temperature rises bringing the frozen products closer to freezer burn. Do not store ice cubes in the freezer.
- Place your frozen foods in the refrigerator and let them thaw before repacking them for freezing.
- Pack portion sizes for meals. If you have a home vacuum packing machine, use it. If not, get Ziploc bags, place the portions inside the bags and expel air from the bag. Wrap the product in foil and place it in an airtight container with the freezing date.
- Chest freezers stay colder than upright freezers, but whichever you have set the temperature to the lowest setting, thawing can happen gently in the fridge.
What can I do with freezer-burnt meats?
If the freezer burn cant is completely trimmed away, try taking beef or chicken and leaving it in a brine solution for a few hours.
If you consider freezer burn simply dehydration of the meat product, it seems reasonable that you can add some moisture back into the product by brining.
Salt brine can work wonders with meats. It is worth a shot if you are considering tossing the meat. Freezer burn damages the meat product’s structural fibers so that they may be chewy and tasteless.
Do freezer bags prevent freezer burn?
You want to limit the food’s exposure to air to avoid freezer burn. Wrap large things, such as chunks of meat and loaves of bread, twice in wax paper, aluminum foil, or plastic wrap before putting them in a container or plastic freezer bag.
Buying vacuum-packed products in smaller batches will help to eliminate freezer burn, and wrapping products tightly will also help. It takes a lot of effort, but meat is expensive, so it is worth trying.
Learn some great recipes
If hydration of the product is needed, brush up on some soup recipes and recipes that use sauces and where the meat product is cooked in the sauce.
Chicken curry can be a great family meal. You can dice the chicken or cook it on the bone, and the more robust flavors of the curry sauce will carry into the chicken as a marinade masking any flavorless chicken perfectly.
Chicken, fish, and beef recipes are perfect for rehydrating your protein.
Freezer burn is caused by poor packaging, which is quickly addressed before putting your food in the freezer. Wrapping food tightly to expel the air is essential to preventing freezer burn.
Remember, it is a food quality issue, not a food safety issue. Eating foods with freezer burn is acceptable and will not cause harm.