How to Prevent Freezer Burn

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Freezer Burned Green Beans. Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Freezing food that your grew or got on sale is a great way to keep your grocery bill down, but sometimes freezer burn can undo all of that effort. Don't let that happen to you! Here are simple steps that you can take to prevent freezer burn:

  1. Use the right containers. Only bags or containers that are designed for the freezer should go in the freezer. They're made of thicker plastic or glass, and will help to keep your food from drying out.
  1. Remove as much air as possible. Trapping air in the container with your food will quickly lead to freezer burn. To avoid this problem, only freeze full containers (just be sure to leave 1/2-inch of headspace for expansion). Then, take a minute to squeeze (or suck) the air out of containers before you seal them.
  2. Double wrap it. If it'll be in the freezer for a while, give it a second layer of protection, whether that means dropping it in a second bag or adding an extra layer of freezer paper, freezer wrap or foil.

4.  Allow foods to cool before you freeze them. This will ensure that you aren't trapping steam inside the packaging (that will later turn into ice crystals), and that you aren't causing other foods in your freezer to thaw and refreeze unnecessarily.

5.  Don't freeze too much at once. Doing so will increase the temperature of the freezer, and cause the foods that you already have in there to thaw out.

6.  Use the oldest foods first. Label and date everything, so you'll know what you have. Then, use the packages with the oldest dates first, so you minimize the time everything spends in the freezer.

7.  Don't open the freezer more than you need to. If you can keep the temperature at or below freezing, you'll have less chance for freezer burn.

Since your refrigerator freezer probably gets opened a lot, it makes good sense to only store what you're currently using there and to keep everything else in a separate freezer.

8.  Drop your freezer temperature. Make sure your freezer is set to at or below 0 degrees Farenheit, so there's less of a temperature swing when you open the door.

9.  Keep Your Freezer Full. Try to keep your freezer at least 75% full, so it stays cold even when you have to open the door or add new items. This will also help to keep things frozen longer during a power outage.

10. Don't Overfill Your Freezer. Make sure the vents at the back of your freezer aren't blocked, so the cold air circulates properly and all foods are kept at the same temperature.

11. Choose your freezer carefully. The auto-defrost feature on refrigerator freezers and upright freezers saves a bit of work, but it's also causes a lot of freezer burn. If you're planning to purchase a second freezer, consider going with a chest freezer, which will allow you to store foods for the longest time with the least decline in quality.

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