Freezer burn might happen if you store meat and fish in the freezer over a long period of time. To figure out how freezer burn affects your food, whether it is safe to eat freezer burned meat and fish or not, as well as how to protect meat and fish from freezer burn, let’s read the following article.
What is freezer burn?
Freezer burn is what happens when food dries out. In the freezer compartment, moisture from the food will escape and condense into ice crystals.
These ice crystals are easy to be seen. They often appear on the surface of frozen meat or leftovers which are kept in the freezer. When moisture is lost, the meat will be dry, spongy and turn into the dark gray color.
Why meat or fish gets freezer burn?
Freezer burned meat or fish is usually caused by two reasons, either due to improper storage, or being left in the freezer for too long. Freezer burned meat, although it looks as if the meat is spoiled, but it is perfectly edible. Therefore, you should not worry about discarding all of the freezer burned meat.
However, freezer burns are caused by dehydration of foods, so the food’s texture and color have changed, making the taste no longer delicious.
How to know if your meat or fish gets freezer burned?
- Check the packaging of meat and fish: If there is any tear or opening on the packaging of your food, it shows that the food is more prone to freezer burn due to air exposure.
- Check the food inside: Any freezer burned meat or fish might have patches of wrinkling, darker colors, or ice crystals buildup around it.
- Smell your meat and fish: Unpleasant smell is an indication that your food gets freezer burned already.
- Check the date printed on the packaging: You should check the label to determine whether the food is overdue or not. If it does, it is more likely to be freezer burned.
Is it safe to eat freezer burned meat or fish?
Yes, it is safe for you to eat freezer burned meat or fish. Freezer burn is actually the loss of moisture in your food. This does not lead to any health problems for you when eating.
In fact, it might change the texture, flavor, and color of all frozen meat and fish. This can make your food less attractive. However, it has no impact on the nutritional value of your food.
However, if your meat or fish has a bad smell or other signs of spoilage, don’t eat it.
Further reading: Which is the Best Vacuum Sealer to Keep Food Fresh?
Tips to protect meat and fish from freezer burn
- Do not keep meat or fish too long in the freezer. Label all of them with a specific date and try to rotate them so the oldest food will be used first. You should eat these foods within an appropriate time frame. The longer you keep the food, the more likely it suffers from freezer burn.
- Appropriate temperature: Set the temperature of the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or under.
- Do not put too much food in the freezer because the cold needs to circulate well to preserve your food.
- Cover your meat and fish carefully by freezer safe containers. Meat and fish should not be directly exposed to cold air in the freezer but keep it in a plastic or glass container or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. It is great to double wrap your food before freezing.
- With leftovers, before putting them in the freezer, make sure it has cooled down completely. If it is still warm, the food will evaporate. This steam will condense into ice crystals on the surface, which can cause freezer burn.
- Dip fish in ice for better preservation. This will create an extra layer of protection against outside air exposure.
- Freeze meat and fish as soon as possible after buying them from stores.
- Try to keep the temperature inside of freezer constant. Avoid opening and closing the door of the freezer too regularly.
- Make use of vacuum packaging for meat and fish.
You may also like: How Long Does Vacuum Sealed Pork Last in the Freezer?
How can you handle any freezer burned meat and fish?
Although it is still safe to eat freezer burned food, it is good for you to remove this issue before cooking your food. Here’s how:
- If the majority of your meat or fish is freezer burned, you had better throw out the whole one immediately. So it does not spread to other surrounding food in the freezer.
- If only part of the food is in trouble, all you need to do is cut off that part and keep the remaining.
You may also like: How to Prevent Freezer Burn on Vegetables and Fruits?
How long should you freeze meat and fish?
- Raw cut meat: 4 to 12 months
- Steaks: 6 to 12 months
- Ground beef: 3 to 4 months
- Cooked poultry and fish: 4 to 6 months
- Other cooked meats such as pork, beef, lamb, or veal: 2 to 3 months
Is 2-year-old frozen fish safe enough to eat?
With proper preservation, it is possible to store fish in the freezer for up to 2 years. And it does not matter if you eat these frozen fishes. You can even get the good quality like fresh ones if you defrost your fish in the right way.
How should you defrost frozen meat and fish?
- Transfer the containers of frozen meat and fish into the fridge to thaw within 5 to 6 hours
- Place meat and fish along with waterproof wrapping into the cold water
- Use a microwave to defrost frozen meat or fish quickly
Should you pre-cook meat before freezing?
In fact, raw meats tend to maintain the best quality longer than the cooked ones. Cooking before storing can cause the loss of moisture in your meat. So it will have many changes in the quality of meat once being frozen.
It is possible for meat and fish to get freezer burned if they are kept in the freezer for too long or due to the wrong freezing process. Even though it can cause some changes in quality, your food is still edible without any issue. Nevertheless, to get the best taste, you should try to freeze them properly.
2. Detect-Freezer-Burn, wikihow.com, Jun 3, 2021