Tuesday, December 11

Fighting Freezer Burn

Vaccuum sealed meatsRecently, when I asked for topic ideas, Liz (who blogs about global poverty) suggested I talk about how to stop freezer burn.

C'mon, fess up.

I know you've had to throw out food because of freezer burn. It's okay, we've all done it from time to time. Obviously, throwing away food is not frugal, no matter how cheap it was when it was purchased.

So, have you ever wondered why ice cubes shrink in the freezer?

It's because water ever so slowly sublimates (goes directly from ice to vapor) and then eventually turns to frost inside your freezer. Of course, many fridges are frost-free, but the process still happens. Anyway, as water leaves the ice cubes they slowly shrink.

When water sublimates out of your food, such as frozen meat, vegetables or your favorite chocolate ice cream, the food dries out and suffers freezer burn.

The best way to prevent this is to prevent the food from coming into contact with air while it is in the freezer. Some things to consider include:

  • Squeeze the air out of any packaging before sealing it.
  • Use thick enough plastic, some seem to "breathe" while in the freezer.
  • Freeze long term items, such as a summer fishing catch, in a bag of water.
  • Eat the ice cream faster - or buy smaller containers.
Official government sites say that food that has suffered freezer burn is still safe, but as you probably know, it won't taste that good.

Funny thought. How does the government know that the food you put in the freezer was safe to eat in the first place? ;)

Frugal Guy said...
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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

I'll admit that I've cooked a roast that had freezer burn before, then I just cut off the outside part. . .

Personally I love my foodsaver for long term meat storage in the freezer, but I don't know if it would be cost effective for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Good ideas. I do an inventory of what I have before shopping to save money. Annette

Tracey said...

I've definitely had to waste food like this in the past...great tips!


Annie Jones said...

Another thing I do that really helps is to make sure the plastic wrap is touching the food. I re-wrap packaged meats so that every surface makes contact with the new plastic wrap. When I freeze soups,stews, I put the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the food, fold over any excess, then either put the lid on (if there is one) or double wrap the container with more plastic wrap.

I buy the extra wide food service plastic wrap at the warehouse store. Even using as much of it as I do, each roll lasts for 2-4 years at our house.

Frugal Guy said...

Excellent tips and ideas everyone, thanks for sharing them.

Liz said...

Frugal Guy,

Thanks for the response! Freezer burn haunts me. I know its "safe," but its not delicious. And a lot of times you can get a fancy cut on sale, so I want to take advantage, you know? And if I'm going to spring for it in the first place, I want what I wanted. Those were great tips!

Keep rockin',

wicke said...

I'm trying to better understand how to prevent freezer burn. I think I am making some progress.
The type of plastic chosen should have an Oxygen Transmission Rate less than one. Polyethylene has a rate of like 550 for a 1 mill thickness. As frugal guy said some plastics breath. I found Zip-Vac bags with triple layers and oxygen barriers with OTR rate under one.
Looks like they may be worth trying.

Frugal Guy said...

Liz, Wicke,

Thanks for the comments.

I really like the idea of specifically identifying the plastics that are not good in the freezer!

Anonymous said...

Interesting post as for me. It would be great to read a bit more concerning that topic. Thank you for giving this information.