FWhat could be more frustrating than finding your favorite ice cream tub covered in a crisp sheet of frost that looks like it came straight from a Narnia scene. Aside from the initial nasty factor and slightly nasty texture, I usually wonder if my freezer burnt container of my favorite Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food is really safe to eat. I mean, technically it melted for god knows how long and froze again, right? I will be surprised. To find a scientific explanation for what’s really going on, we spoke to a nutritional scientist who solved this long-standing dilemma.
In short, it turns out that *most* freezer burn foods are usually fine; however, when it comes to certain foods, such as meat, this can be a warning sign that something more is coming into play. So what’s the best way to prevent freezer burn when you have to part with an overly frosty ingredient, and what’s the logical explanation for all this madness? We’ve got the answers for you – and it really is NBD.
What causes freeze burns
To learn more about the chemical reaction that happens when food enters the freezer, we spoke to Natalie AlibrandiLondon food scientist and CEO Nali Consulting, for meanness. “Freezer burn is caused by oxidation and dehydration. If food is left in the freezer for too long or not stored in sealed packaging, parts that are exposed to air can burn in the freezer,” says Alibrandi. Makes sense… but isn’t the freezer designed to preserve food at all costs?
“Essentially, a freezer burn is water contained in foods rising to the surface and forming crystal-like structures. This process is also known as sublimation, similar to evaporation. However, in this case, the water bypasses the liquid phase and turns into a gas,” says Alibrandi. Thus, when food enters the freezer but has already thawed, it can become prone to this pesky chemical reaction.
So, is it safe to eat freezer burn foods?
“Yes! Foods burnt in the freezer are safe to eat. Unfortunately, due to dehydration and oxidation [freezer burn] will revolutionize the texture and taste of your food,” says Alibrandi. While it may look unappetizing, she says sublimated foods are not necessarily a sign of spoilage. However, she advises removing freezer-exposed cuts of meat or crystallized vegetables, as this will greatly affect their flavor and texture due to moisture loss.
The best way to prevent freezer burn
To prevent freezer burns, Alibrandi recommends always using sealed containers and freeze-proof packaging to reduce the risk of sublimation. “In fact, vacuum packaging food to prevent contact with air is one of the best ways to prevent ice formation,” she says.
Ultimately, however, Alibrandi worries that any food exposed to the air runs the risk of being burned in the freezer. To lessen the chances, she says you should only keep most frozen foods for a short period of time before using them, and make sure they’re dry when put in the freezer. “Vegetables and fruits can be stored for up to 12 months, but meat and fish for less than six months,” adds Alibrandi.
@thiscraftyhome Reply to @_aj_2019 Freezer burning sucks! Get more freezer cooking tips in the free freezer cooking cheat sheet in my bio! #freezer #light dinner ♬ Pieces (Version for piano solo) – Danilo Stankovic
In this TikTok video on @thiscraftyhomeRachel offers three tips to prevent freezer burn at all costs. First, she explains that you should store food so that it comes into contact with air as little as possible, echoing Alibrandi’s point. Rachel then says it’s important to make sure the food is as cold as possible. before he goes into the freezer. To do this, she recommends putting it in the fridge beforehand and then transferring it to the freezer once it’s very cold. Finally, she says you shouldn’t put too many warm foods in the freezer at once, as this can raise the temperature dramatically and make foods even more vulnerable to sublimation. Just another excuse for me to stock up on Ben & Jerry’s this summer, right?
Now that you know how to prevent freezer burns, here are some healthy frozen foods to stock up on that a nutritionist swears by:
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