We’ve all seen freezer burn. You open the freezer looking for a piece of meet to cook for dinner. You find that expensive cut of beef you bought months ago, but you notice it has crystals of ice formed on it. The effected area has a grayish brownish leathery look. It doesn’t look very appealing.
This doesn’t necessarily mean it is spoiled and unsafe. But it does mean that it will likely not taste as good as it should. It will be tougher than it should. Is that what you expected from that high quality USDA Choice or Prime Beef? Many people will just throw-it away. Wasted money.
What Causes Freezer Burn?
Exposure to air. When meat is exposed to air, it draws moisture out of the meat. Under freezing condition that moisture turns to ice crystals. Without getting really scientific it’s process called “sublimation”. Water evaporates at all temperatures, even in a freezing environment. When meat is deprived of moisture, it becomes dry and shriveled. And it causes fat to oxidize. The result? Not a very appealing steak or roast. Not very tasty either.
How To Protect Against Freezer Burn
If you have a vacuum sealer, put it to use. During the vacuum-sealing process, most of the air is removed. Since air can penetrate plastic, it is a good idea to still wrap the sealed package with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
If you do not have a vacuum sealer, wrap the meat very tightly around the meat. Wrap in a way that pushes as much air out as possible. Use foil, not plastic wrap because plastic is not as airtight as foil.
Then tightly wrap the foil with a few layers of plastic wrap which will help keep the foil tightly against the steak or roast. As added insurance against freezer burn, place the completed package inside a freezer bag.
Date your package. Although beef can be frozen for 6 to 12 months safely, you want to use it as soon as convenient. Quality will deteriorate over time. By dating you can be sure of “first in, first out”. A good rule of thumb is do not freeze any meat that you do not plan to cook within the next month or so. Sooner the better.
Fresh meats will generally stay fresh for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. It is best to freeze to freeze if use will be later than 2-3 days. Package properly and freeze after shopping. Never let meat that will be frozen sit out at room temperature. Always place it in the refrigerator until you have time to package it.
When you thaw meat, move it from the freezer to the refrigerator to let it thaw slowly. This sometimes takes a few day to thoroughly thaw.
Keep a thermometer in your freezer. The temperature should be maintained at 0 degrees. Fluctuating temperatures above that will accelerate moisture loss.