How to tell when your food is freezer burned—and what to do about it

Christina explains how this happens and what to look out for on chicken stored in the freezer, “Freezer burn happens when food is frozen for a long time or food is not packaged properly so the cold air gets to the food and causes drying of the food and lead to changes in texture and flavor. This can be seen clearly when frozen raw chicken turns white and opaque or when food has lots of ice crystals on it.”

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What is Freezer Burn?

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If you use a lot of freezer bags, it may make sense to invest in a vacuum sealer.

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What foods get freezer burn?

A way around freezer burn is to cut around the offending parts.

Most foods contain a lot of water. This forms ice in the freezer, but even though it’s solid, it can still escape from your food as water vapor through a process called sublimation. Sublimation can happen at any freezer temperature but is worse if your freezer gets too warm.

Is freezer burn on chicken safe to eat? You might have been left asking yourself this if you’ve encountered signs of freezer burn on your chicken. Even the best freezers can leave your meat with freezer burn if it’s been left in there for too long or has accidentally been left uncovered.

How to tell when your food is freezer burned—and what to do about it

Freezer burn on any part of chicken in pieces appears as white or whitish-gray, dry-looking spots around one or more edges of the pieces. The white, leathery areas show most clearly on skinless chicken pieces, but freezer burn also shows up on the skin. If freezer burn has occurred for more than just a few days, you may also see small ice crystals.

It may come as a surprise, but, despite looking unappealing, it’s not unsafe to eat freezer burnt chicken. However, as Christina explained, the dehydration that has occurred on the freezer burned parts of the chicken will have deteriorated the texture and changed the flavor.

Water always seeks to go from wet areas to dry areas, like from your juicy steaks into the dry freezer air.

Freezer burn: everything you need to know

What is Freezer Burn & How to Prevent It

The foods freezer burn impacts most are solids with a moisture content – meat, fish, fruit, vegetables (including courgettes and runner beans) and baked goods are the most susceptible. Only very dry things (such as fully cooked meringues) or very liquid things (stock) tend to fare better.

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How do you avoid freezer burn?

If you freeze a lot of food, it could be worth investing in a vacuum sealer. Check out the vacuum sealers we’ve tested, and our number one choice, the FoodSaver FM2000.

The flimsy plastic wrap on the top of a typical chicken package allows air to reach the surface of chicken. To protect the chicken, place the entire package in another sturdy freezer bag that is specifically designed to keep air out.

You can exclude air from a partly finished pint of ice cream by covering the surface with waxed paper.

How to Tell If Chicken Is Freezer-Burned

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Watch out for these signs occurring and prevent them by keeping food covered in packaging or air tight containers. Use food by its use-by date in order to prevent it being in the freezer for too long, exposing it to freezer burn.

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What is freezer burn?

Luckily we can help you avoid freezer burn by storing food correctly. If the damage is already done, we also have tips for rescuing foods with freezer burn.

While it may be safe to eat, it won’t taste as good; with people who have eaten freezer burnt chicken reporting that it has a musty flavor. Our advice would be to dispose of the meat if it is significantly freezer burned. However, if it has only affected a part of the chicken you may wish to defrost it and cut out the freezer burned section.

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