In this short guide, we will know if it is possible to eat freezer burnt food. In addition, we will discuss what factors affect the texture of foods and why they get freezer burn, as well as how to prevent freezer burn.
Can you eat something with freezer burn?
Yes, you can eat with freezing or refrigeration burns, due to only affecting the physical or organoleptic characteristics of the food. It is safe to eat since it is not contaminated by any microorganism that could harm us.
Many times, when we want to cook something that we have in our freezer we realize that they have a different color than its original color, in addition to the fact that it feels hard, however when we smell it has its normal or original smell, which causes us concern if it is safe to consume.
What is a freezer burn on food?
Freezer burn describes the loss of moisture causing dehydration or desiccation from the surface of frozen foods overtime during frozen storage, yielding an opaque dehydrated surface.
What is the scientific explanation for the loss of moisture?
It is due to sublimation, which consists of the phase transition from ice directly to the vapor phase, without going through the liquid phase, on the surface of the food.
Why does the freezer cause burns?
All foods have a certain percentage of moisture that varies according to their chemical properties, which include water activity. This water when subjected to high freezing temperatures and thousands of ice crystals is formed. These crystals migrate to the surface of food through sublimation.
The loss of water causes the dehydration of the food which makes the food look dry or hard. In addition, losing water molecules can cause sensory changes such as taste and smell, due to the presence of oxygen.
How to identify a freezer burn in food?
In the meat, you can see a darker color than its original color. For example, in red meats, gray or brown color can be observed.
In vegetables, opaque color and loss of texture can be observed.
Ice frost can also be seen on food that has been thawed and frozen again, which could indicate that there was a loss of water.
What are the main organoleptic and sensory damages in food?
- Discoloration: It is due to chemical changes in the food pigment caused by overexposure to air.
- Texture: due to the loss of water during this process, the food dries, which produces a wrinkled texture as in vegetables.
- Taste: Some people have identified the flavor as “dryer” and it may be due to the loss of aromas due to the volatilization of chemical elements, in addition to the loss of water molecules.
When to throw out thawed food that has suffered freezer burn?
- When the texture is slimy
- With a different smell from its original smell (meat, fish, vegetables)
- Does not have a label with the date of freezing
- When the freezer suffered a malfunction and may affect the development of pathogenic microorganisms
- If the freezer-burned area is not too extensive, you can simply cut the affected portions off before or after cooking.
How to prevent freezer burn on food?
- First of all, the packaging is vital to avoid freezer burn. You have to try to remove the greatest amount of air where the food is stored.
- Use compatible containers for freezing, its characteristics are that they are thick and that they withstand high temperatures like some plastics.
- Avoid storing in very thin bags since, being fragile, they can break more easily and cause freezer burn.
- A useful tip is to label the food with the storage start date, to know its shelf life.
- Opt for other storage and preservation methods such as vacuum impregnation.
- Separate foods that may contain a higher percentage of water and store them in airtight containers, such as meat.
- Avoid defrosting and freezing the same food, since this way more water will be available for crystallization, even for the development of microorganisms. It is best to thaw only food that is to be consumed immediately.
- Try to store food in the freezer for a maximum of 3 months for consumption
- Avoid temperature fluctuations in the freezer being at 0 degrees centigrade or less.
- Include the first-in first-out system, i.e. store from “oldest” to “newest” in the freezer
The bottom line
As we could see in the article, if it is safe to consume food burned by freezing from the microbiological side, however, we should know that it will have some organoleptic and sensory changes such as texture, color, flavor, smell, among others.
Likewise, some tips were announced to prevent freezer burn, which mainly include good packaging of the different foods to be consumed.
In this short guide, we learned that it is possible to eat freezer burnt food. In addition, we discussed what factors affect food texture and why it gets freezer burned, as well as how to prevent freezer burn.