Like many of you, I cook extra food for dinner and then freeze leftovers to enjoy another day. And then I forget about it.
When I discover the food from the back of the freezer, it often has taste killing freezer burn. This has also happened to me with packaged frozen food. To save money, improve taste and stop food waste, I’m sharing what I have learned about freezer burn.
Freezer burn is what happens when the liquid inside your frozen food begins to evaporate, which then dehydrates the food. This leaves dry, grayish-looking spots or ice crystals on the food. The food is not harmful; it just might have an unpleasant taste and texture.
Freezer burn can happen if the food went into the freezer at too warm a temperature or there was excessive air exposure.
Wrapping and recording are the two Rs for freezer burn protection. Let’s say you want to save half of a delicious lasagna. Wrap it in plastic or aluminum foil and then store in a container. Double wrap meats, breads and large foods.
For liquids or smaller items, fill the container so there is minimal space for air. If it’s a freezer bag, do your best to remove all air before sealing.
Almost any food will develop freezer burn if it stays in the freezer too long. Record the date a food is frozen and do a regular inventory of what you have. Leftovers will be at their best one to three months after being frozen.
If you bought a lot of poultry on sale and froze most of it, be sure and eat it within nine months for best texture and taste. A freezer should be kept at 0 degrees. If your freezer does not have a temperature display, investing in a refrigerator thermometer could save you from spoiled food.
A great site is www.foodsafety.gov. There are charts of how long food can stay frozen and tasty as well as information on food recalls and cooking temperatures.
Sheah Rarback MS, RDN is a registered dietitian nutrition in private practice in Miami.
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