What is Freezer Burn and What Can You Do About It?

What is Freezer Burn?

Sometimes the food that you have entrusted to your freezer develops a disgusting metallic and grimy taste.  You will just want to spit it out.  The texture becomes like putty and the coloration shifts to grey.  What is happening?!  The evil fortune that has befallen your food is a process known as “freezer burn.”

Freezer burn is caused by chemical and physical changes triggered by dehydration.  Even when no melting occurs inside your appliance, ice can still sublimate directly into a gas.  When the air is warmed, particularly when it is above freezing point, moisture will leave your frozen items and migrate elsewhere.  This is why ice cubes shrink without liquefying and frost accumulates on the walls.  Dried out nutrients become vulnerable to chemical reactions that produce repellant flavors.  For example, fats in freezer burned meat become rancid.

What can You Do about It?

There is no way to restore freezer burned food, so the only option is to prevent this process in the first place.  The best way to do this is by carefully packaging your food to prevent moisture-sapping air from drifting across it.  Seal items tight, removing as much air as possible.  Leave minimal space in plastic containers and seal the outside with plastic wrap.  But try not to pack your parcel so tight that it blows apart when it freezes!

To protect your general inventory from freezer burn, keep the temperature of the air in your chamber constant.  The most obvious way to do this is to avoid opening your door and not leaving it open too long.  Perhaps a more helpful tip is to cool off hot food in the refrigerator first instead of putting it directly into the freezer.  Ultimately, if you are having a lot of trouble with fluctuating temperature, there may be something wrong with your appliance.  Contact us at Dave Smith Appliance Services, and we will dispatch one of our certified Master Technicians to inspect and repair your freezer.

Try as you might, you will never be able to completely stave off freezer burn forever.  So eat the oldest items first before they have a chance to go bad.

Is it alright to eat freezer burned food?  Strictly speaking, it is not poisonous.  In fact, freeze dried foods are produced by a similar process.  However, most freezer burned food tastes extremely bad and is not worth salvaging.  Since freezer burn can be confused with certain types of microbial decay, you might as well just throw it away.