It can be very frustrating to pull dinner out of the freezer, only to find grey patches on it: that’s freezer burn, dehydrated spots on frozen food. It can be cut away and the food safely eaten, but it won’t probably won’t taste nice, says Dr. Gary Sandberg, head of the food technology program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby. Here are his tips to prevent freezer burn:
• Use proper packaging, such as freezer bags—the plastic film or brown paper wrap food comes home in isn’t enough. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible. For an added layer of protection, dip the products in water before placing them in the freezer bag to provide an ice coating.
• Cool hot foods in the fridge before transferring them to the freezer. The extreme temperature change from stove to freezer encourages the movement of moisture out of food.
• Food with 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 (it does not kill bacteria).
Download our handy fridge/freezer chart here.
Before refrigerating or freezing groceries, 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 4 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit); freezers should be at or below -18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit).
• Don’t stuff your fridge and freezer. Cool air needs to circulate freely to keep food properly chilled.
• Clean your refrigerator and freezer regularly. A thorough cleaning—emptying out the fridge, cleaning 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. Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood in containers on the bottom shelf of your fridge.