The freezer is your best tool for preserving food, saving money, and reducing waste. However, it's frustrating to remove steaks, casseroles, or soups only to see that they've developed freezer burn during storage. Freezer-burned foods are safe to eat, according to the Library of Congress, but the taste and texture won't be the same.
Use these five tips to rescue your foods from freezer burn so that making home-cooked meals is a snap.
1. Cool foods completely.
In order for your freezer to work properly and maintain the freshness of your food, it needs to have a consistent temperature. Placing warm or hot foods directly in the freezer affects the overall temperature and puts the other nearby foods at risk for developing freezer burn. Chill the foods for one to two hours in the refrigerator, or cool quickly in a sink full of ice water before placing them in the freezer.
2. Use the smallest container possible.
Air is the number one culprit when it comes to freezer burn. Choose the smallest container possible (or one that you can fill almost completely) if you want to avoid freezer burn. Make sure that it seals tightly so no air can get in during storage. Freezer bags are ideal because you can squeeze out the extra air, and the double zipper lock creates a tight seal.
3. Set your freezer to the proper temperature.
Freezers often have temperature controls, so it's important to check the temperature every once in a while to make sure that it's at the proper level. Accidentally bumping the control could change the temperature. Warmer temperatures cause moisture to evaporate from the food, leading to freezer burn. Make sure your freezer is at 0 degrees F, or on low.
4. Use extra wrapping.
If you know you're storing certain foods for a longer period of time — like a piece of cake from your wedding — it helps to use a bit of extra wrapping to keep air out. Wrap the food in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing it in a freezer bag or other container for double protection.
5. Fill your freezer.
Fill your freezer so that the foods work together to keep the temperature down. This way, your freezer doesn't have to work as hard. However, only keep the freezer about 75 percent full so that cold air can move through your freezer and keep the temperature consistent.