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Can you eat freezer-burned food? We all know it tastes quite terrible but is freezer burn food unsafe? This article will get into all the information you need to know when it comes to eating frozen foods with freezer burn.
Is freezer burn safe to eat or can freezer burn make you sick?
While freezer-burned meat might taste awful and it’s always better to avoid freezer burn in the first place, According to the FDA, it’s perfectly safe to eat.
When it comes to health and food safety standards, Freezer burn is nothing more than a quality issue rather than something you need to be concerned about. So is it ok to eat freezer-burned food? As long as you can handle the unique taste and texture of the frozen food that has been afflicted by freezer burn, It’s perfectly ok to eat freezer-burned food.
However, there are some warnings to go along with that statement.
Telling the difference between freezer burn and accidentally thawed unthawed thawed foods.
It’s important to be able to tell the difference between frozen food that has a simple case of freezer burn, or if it’s actually been thawed and frozen over and over again from a loose seal on the freezer, Or someone forgetting it on the counter and putting it back in the freezer, etc.
Since freezer burn itself is safe, But thawed and refrozen foods aren’t always going to be, you need to tell the difference before you can determine proper food safety.
What does freezer burn look like, How can I tell the difference?
To know what to look out for to spot freezer burn, You have to know what causes it.
The process of sublimation converts solid water molecules to a gas without passing through the liquid stage, and it’s what causes freezer burn. The ice in this case changes from a solid to a gas without first melting and evaporating. In this way, the water molecules escape from the frozen food slowly as ice crystals are formed.
It’s the same reason hanging wet laundry outside in the middle of winter can still dry them off. By freezing solid, over time the ice crystals evaporate off into a gas, taking the water molecules with it.
In food, This dehydration and oxidation result in dry pockets within the food, altering its taste and texture.
So how do you spot freezer burn?
Foods that develop freezer burn have a distinctive greyish-brown color and leathery texture to the affected areas of the food. These spots may also feel dry and tough to bite, and they often have a stale taste.
Other food examples:
- Broccoli will wither and turn brown
- Meat will look dry and leathery with brown spots
- The chicken will look white/gray with dry spots around the edges
How to spot unthawed and refrozen foods?
Foods that have been refrozen are obvious when you open the package. The ice crystals may return to their original state, but there’s no way around it — your food was frozen before.
In the case of meat, for example, Plastic wrap or freezer bags will have adhered to the meat itself, the meat will look flatter and harder with less noticeable visible texture. The meat may have a strange, artificial smell to it.
Unless you’ve refrozen something on purpose, it’s best to not eat this type of food.
What does freezer burn taste like?
On some foods, the freeze-burned food texture will be the most obvious sign, and the taste won’t have changed much.
In other foods, Such as bread, The taste is very distinct and unpalatable. Most people would describe the taste of freezer burn as “it tastes like what your freezer smells like”.
Different foods will have different tastes and textures associated with their freezer burn. Red meats have a less noticeable taste but the texture is unappetizing, for example. Same with ground meat like ground beef, but it will become much dryer because of the thinner strands of frozen meat and the porous nature of ground beef.
The good news is, Some foods can be fixed and be made more palatable again
Take bread for example. If you soak bread in some water and then put it in the oven for a bit to dry out and become toasted, You’ve effectively rehydrated that bread and it will taste 10x better than it would have if it remained freezer burned.
You can scrape away freeze burn on many types of meat by leaving them to thaw out 50% so they still remain quite stiff. This makes it much easier to cut around the freezer-burned areas.
Freezer burned meat can also be salvaged by slow cooking in something like a crockpot.
Vegetables can be rehydrated, although not all will be as good as if they hadn’t been hit with freezer burn in the first place.
By trying to salvage your food before tossing it out, you can prevent excess waste food.
But the number #1 rule is prevention. Prevent freezer burn before it happens
By using proper freezer-safe containers, a sealed freezer bag, and properly keeping your foods covered, you can prevent moisture loss and sublimation, and oxidization from attacking your food.
You must be sure the things you use to keep your food safe are actually intended for freezer use. Many products that claim to be a “freezer bag” are simply bad. While there are good intentions, their design is flawed from the bottom up.
The only problem is they allow too much oxygen into the food, leaving your food unprotected against oxidization. which in turn causes that dreaded freezer burn, leaving your food unprotected.
Instead, You should use a vacuum sealer, much like the GERYON Vacuum Sealer. Not only does it do the best job and keeping oxygen away, But it also forces the liquid in the food to stay put with no room to leave.