Saturday, August 6, 2011

How to Avoid Freezer Burn

Having freezer meals on hand can save you time and money. But if you pull out your meal, and find it has freezer burn, well then, it tastes funny and is a waste of your time and money. Keep reading to find out how you can best avoid freezer burn...

"Can you do a post (baby permitting) about freezing meals? When you do the tupperware, do you do anything else other than put a lid on it? I assume you use freezer bags for things like chicken or meats. Do you ever freeze in casserole dishes? I'm always worried about freezer burn when I freeze things!" -Jacque

The first thing to help avoid freezer burn is having a working freezer. (I know, it sounds like a "duh moment," but let me explain.) Your freezer should be able to keep a constant temperature (get a freezer thermometer if you're concerned), and that temperature should be below 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C.)

We used to have an avacado green freezer that was passed on to us from my grandma. Let me tell you, we lost quite a bit of food to freezer burn in that old thing! Some of the food even got lost & forgotten on the top shelf! Our new freezer is a frost-free freezer, which cycles the temperature, so it is not always constant. I have not had any problems with freezer burn since, but it is something to keep in mind if you are looking to get a new freezer. 
If you're using resealable bags, make sure you're using ones that are freezer resealable bags. If you just made a freezer meal, and find that you are all out, then try double bagging with a regular resealable bag. But either way, you want to get as much air as possible out of the bag (air flow can cause freezer burn.) If you need to, seal the bag almost completely, then stick a straw in and suck out the remaining air.

Freeze your meals in smaller-sized portions. It helps reduce freezer burn when foods freeze quicker. I usually freeze what I think would be enough for one meal for the hubbs & I, using the smallest container that I can fit it in. Then there's less room for air, plus the container takes up less room in your freezer (making more room for more meals... or ice cream...!)

If you're using containers or casserole dishes (either brand name like Tupperware or Rubbermaid, or if you're like me and re-purpose your sour cream containers), its a good idea to cover them with plastic wrap and/ or tin foil before you put the lid on. I like to cover my casserole dishes with plastic wrap, then tinfoil, but my plastic containers with just plastic wrap. But do what works best for you.

If you've made something, and it's hot, wait for it to cool before you freeze it. Not only will this reduce freezer burn, because your food will freeze faster, but your freezer won't be working quite as hard to freeze it, saving money on your electric bill (okay, it might just be a penny or two, but it's still saving!)

Ever find something at the back of the freezer that you're not sure where it came from? It's so old that you don't even know what it is anymore. Chances are it has freezer burn. Don't leave freezer meals in the freezer for too long. I always make sure I write the date I made it (along with what it is!) on masking tape and label everything, so that I know what it is and how long it's been there.

As I was writing this, I was thinking of all the different ways to freeze foods, and what works best for what types of food. I thought about putting that in this post, but it might get a little lengthy. So, watch for a post coming soon (baby permitting!) on how to best freeze different foods, and how to maximize your freezer space. (Especially if you don't have a stand-along freezer!)


Ashley said...

We had a vacuum sealer (it broke and we can't afford to get a new one which makes me sad) and we would buy meat in bulk and vacuum seal it into portions we needed. It saved us money and reduced freezer burn a ton.

Sarah Gibson said...

Thanks, Ashley! I was going to include that in here, but completely forgot! We have borrowed my mom's when the hubbs brings home meat after hunting. It works great!