A good home chef will plan their meals well in advance. Doing so ensures your family has access to delicious and nutritious meals every night, which is key to good health. Meal planning also offers the benefit of convenience. You can cut back on trips to the grocery store when you have a freezer full of food.
One drawback of meal planning is a problem most home chefs have experienced: freezer burn. Tough spots, discoloration, and unpalatable textures are all common signs of freezer burn. Many people even wonder whether freezer burn will affect the safety of their food.
Food safety is of the utmost importance for you and your family, as you want to ensure that everyone is enjoying safe, nutritious meals. However, you also want to provide delicious foods during meal times so that everyone is satisfied with what they're offered. This guide explains some science behind freezer burn and ways that you can avoid it.
How Does Freezer Burn Affect Food?
All food contains moisture, which turns into ice crystals when exposed to freezing temperatures. Eventually, these ice crystals move to other parts of the freezer in a process called sublimation. As foods lose their moisture, they also experience changes in appearance, texture, and taste. For instance, meat may appear dried out, with a tough texture and a bland flavor.
All sorts of food become freezer burned when improperly stored or left too long in cold storage. This includes meats like beef, fish, and poultry, dairy products like ice cream, and produce like fruits and vegetables. Produce is especially susceptible to freezer burn since it contains a high moisture content.
Is It Safe to Eat Food That's Freezer Burned?
The good news is that freezer burned foods are still safe for eating, provided that the temperature inside the appliance is set to 0 °F. Foods stored at this temperature are protected from the growth of bacteria and germs, regardless of how long they're stored. However, you must make sure that you thaw items correctly, particularly when it comes to chicken.
In this case, you can use a microwave, place the frozen meat in the refrigerator, or submerge a sealed bag containing the chicken in a bowl of cold water. These steps ensure the meat is thawed correctly without spreading hazardous bacteria around the chicken.
Can You Prevent Freezer Burn From Occurring?
Setting your freezer at 0 °F not only keeps food safe it also reduces the risk of freezer burn. This temperature helps food freeze quickly, which reduces the size of the ice crystals. Smaller ice crystals mean the food won't experience such a drastic change in quality after being stored.
How you wrap frozen food has a big impact on its freshness. The goal is to prevent as little air from getting into the package as possible, which also affects the formation of ice crystals. You'll get a lot of mileage out of the plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and a sealable plastic bag when storing meat or bread.
Finally, try to use frozen items within a certain period of time. When stored correctly, most foods can keep in the freezer for two to four months without experiencing a significant change in quality.
Say Goodbye to Freezer Burn!
Maintaining a household is a balancing act, to be sure. This is especially true when it comes to grocery shopping, as you must balance your household budget against the nutrition needs of your family. If you find that you're not able to use all your frozen food within a four-month time frame, now is a great opportunity to review your shopping list.