This is the time of year when many of us are doing food prep and freezing some of our meals for the week. It also happens to be a great time to find some deals at the supermarket. Every store that stocked up big for Super Bowl parties will be having huge discounts the following week on the over-ordered meats. That means stuffing your freezer until it cannot hold any more food.
Now, if you are like me, there have been times when you were looking forward to taking out that beautiful 16-ounce strip steak for dinner only to find out the steak had been freezer burned and it is no good. Today, we are going to define that problem and help you avoid it in the future.
What is Freezer Burn?
The mere presence of ice crystals alone on the food does not constitute freezer burn. You can wipe the ice away, but if you find white splotches or dry spots on the food, then you know for sure that it has been freezer burned. The food, at this point, is dry and tasteless. If the spots are limited, say to around one end, you may be able to cut those areas off and still save the meat. However, if the dry marks are present all over the piece of meat, you are better off just tossing it.
How is Freezer Burn Caused?
When you put food into your freezer, water molecules insider the food turn to ice, then travel to the surface of the meat. This is when you see the crystals start to cling to food, serving as a way to dehydrate the food. When that water escapes the food, oxygen seeps in, which causes oxidation, which changes the overall flavor of the food.
Preventing Freezer Burn
The best way I know to prevent freezer burn is to buy a vacuum sealer for food. Much of the food that you buy at the grocery store that is not already frozen is not packaged for freezer storage. If you cannot buy a vacuum sealer, remove food from its original packaging, wrap tightly in saran wrap and wax freezer paper, then put in freezer storage bag (make sure you remove as much air as possible from the bag for sealing). I would also recommend labeling and dating all food in the freezer so it can be consumed in a timely manner.