Freezer Burn Facts

You can Prevent It

When your food has been damaged by freezer burn, this was simply a result of oxidation and dehydration. Know the facts to better understand this frozen food condition.

A condition which happens to frozen food, freezer burn is not something to really get worried about. Even though your steak may look discolored and covered in frost, it does not mean there is something wrong with it. A lot of people, particularly those who buy food items in bulk and store them in their freezer, have experienced this at one time in their life. Of course, food which suffered from this condition should be discarded since it will be more difficult to cook and usually becomes rancid more quickly. In any case, it is important you learn about why your food got “burned” and take steps in order to avoid it in the future.

In order to understand what happens to frozen food during freezer burn, you need to study the principle behind this condition. When you buy food and place it in the freezer, the water molecules crystallize. If your food has not been properly packed or has been exposed to extreme cold temperatures for a long period of time, the water molecules will escape to the environment, resulting in dehydration of food. Technically, the molecules undergo a process called sublimation, wherein they migrate to the coldest spot and evaporate, which leaves the food item dehydrated.

Signs of Freezer Burn

Frozen food, which suffered from this condition, will look leathery in some areas and usually gray, brown or grayish-brown in color, hence the burned appearance. They will also appear shriveled and parched. If this happens, you can expect the food to have tough texture and when you cook it, it will not taste as well and will be difficult to chew. The fat in frozen food will also oxidize. Some people merely remove the part which got burned while others discard the frozen food altogether. In terms of food safety, there are no risks.

How to Prevent It

Preventing freezer burn is actually simple. Consider the following tips:

1. Storing your food. Make sure your food has been packed in a tightly sealed container. As much as possible, limit the surface of the food exposed directly. Containers suitable for storing food in your freezer include sealable plastic bags, plastic containers, plastic wrap and aluminum foil. To suck the air out of the bags, you can use a straw. Keep in mind that food expands when frozen so you should leave enough space or else your packaging or container might break. Plastic wrap and aluminum foil can be used to cover the item before you out it in its container, doubling its defense against dehydration. Avoid storing your food for long periods of time since this increases its chance of getting burned. Indicate expiration date on the outside of the container and make sure you consume the food before the said date.

2. Freezer Temperature. Since sublimation occurs at a temperature above freezing then you should make sure your freezer’s setting is set at the lowest possible temperature. You must make sure there are no fluctuations, which usually happen when you open the freezer door much too often. Also avoid putting hot foods inside your freezer. Because of the susceptibility of food to get burned during temperature fluctuations, it is recommended you choose a manual defrost freezer instead of a frost-free unit.

3. Caring for Your Freezer. It is important you take care of your freezer in order to enjoy efficient freezing and overall excellent performance. Avoid overloading your freezer. It is recommended you freeze 2 to 3 pounds of food for each cubic foot. If you overload, the freezing rate is slowed down and you may lose quality of your food.


Learning about the facts of freezer burn will help you prevent frozen food from being wasted because of such condition. For consumers who have chest or upright freezers, make sure you store your food the proper way and consume them before you forget they are inside your freezer. It only takes a small oversight or a slip and your food will no longer be of excellent quality.

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