It can be very frustrating to pull out the chicken you had planned to cook up for dinner from the freezer, only to find telltale grey patches on it. Freezer burn is simply a dehydrated spot on the frozen product. While it can be cut away and the food safely eaten, it may not taste very nice, says Dr. Gary Sandberg, head of the food technology program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby, who gave us these tips to prevent the dreaded burn.
- Use proper packaging such as freezer bags-the plastic film or brown paper wrap food comes home in from the store is just not enough. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible. For an added layer of protection, Dr. Sandberg recommends dipping meat or fish in water before placing them in the freezer bag to provide an ice coating (known as glazing) during freezing that will slow down the freezer burn process.
- Cool hot foods in the fridge before transferring to the freezer. The extreme temperature change from the stove to freezer encourages the movement of moisture out of food.
- Food with a high fat content (such as salmon) and baked goods (with high moisture and fat contents) can be very prone to freezer burn. Minimize their time in the freezer.
- Date foods in the freezer, and remember to rotate the inventory (i.e., first in, first out).
- Never re-freeze foods. (Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria.)
Before putting your groceries in the fridge or freezer, follow these tips to make sure they stay safe to eat.
- Discourage bacteria growth by putting food that needs to be refrigerated or frozen away immediately.
- Check the temperature of your fridge and freezer. Refrigerators should be at or below 4ËšC (40ËšF). Freezers should be at or below -18ËšC (0ËšF).
- Don’t stuff your fridge and freezer. Cool air must circulate freely to keep food properly chilled.
- Clean your refrigerator and freezer regularly. A thorough cleaning-emptying out the fridge, cleaning out the interior surfaces, removing the bins and shelves-and washing and drying them should be done twice a month.
- Bacteria can be carried in raw meat juices. Place any raw meat, poultry and seafood in containers on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
Not sure what to keep and what to toss? Check out Canadian Family’s handy fridge/freezer food safety chart.