Prevent freezer burn. Keep it airtight
Wrap everything carefully before you freeze it
Cold air in your freezer keeps the food frozen.
But if the air comes into direct contact with your food it’ll dry it out and spoil it.
It’s called freezer burn.
So, it’s essential you protect anything you put in the freezer from direct exposure to air.
Double wrap to keep it airtight
- Wrap anything you freeze very tightly in cling film or freezer paper.
- Freezer paper works best as it’s got a plastic coating on one side that you put against the meat.
- Wax paper works too but not as well.
- Pad any sharp bones with small pieces of kitchen paper. That way they won’t puncture the wrapping and let the air in.
- Wrap it all again in aluminium foil or a zip top freezer bag.
- If it’s a bag, make sure you squeeze the air out before you seal it.
Freeze it quickly. The faster your food freezes, the better it’ll taste
Rapid freezing prevents large ice crystals forming inside the meat.
But if meat freezes too slowly lots of big ice crystals form within it.
These crystals damage the structure of the meat.
It’ll lose moisture when it thaws and be dry when you eat it.
How to freeze your meat quickly
Use the Fast Freeze option. Many freezers have this, if yours does use it.
- Check the thermometer before you put food in. Make sure the freezer’s really cold. At least -18°C better still -26°C.
- Freeze food in the coldest part of your freezer. Usually near the bottom.
- Let air circulate around the food you’re freezing. It’s the cold air that does the freezing, so make plenty of space for it to flow. Shift anything that’s already frozen to one side to create a bit of space.
- Don’t stack the packs you’re freezing. Give each pack as much contact with the air as possible. If you’ve got some wire roasting trays use them and spread everything out in one layer.
- Freeze in portions. It makes it quicker to freeze but also to thaw.
- Don’t freeze too much at once. Your freezer works hard to freeze the food, so don’t overload it. It’ll slow down the freezing process.
- Chill everything in the fridge before you freeze it. The colder food is when it goes into the freezer the quicker it’ll freeze. Chilled food is also easier to cut into portions.
- Don’t rinse or wash the meat before you freeze it. This can cause crystallisation on the meat when it freezes. If you want to rinse the meat do it just before you cook it, but never wash chicken.
Don’t leave food too long in the freezer
Eat within 3 months
Freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely. But, over time, its quality deteriorates.
So, no matter how well you wrap your food it’ll eventually develop freezer burn.
It’ll still be safe to eat. But it won’t taste very nice.
You can freeze meat for up to 3 months with no discernible loss of quality.
After that there’s a chance it’ll develop freezer burn and be dry and unappetising when you cook it.
Write a “Use by Date” on everything you put into your freezer. Use a “last in, first out” principal.
Thaw meat slowly in your fridge. Leave it on a plate, uncovered, at the bottom of the fridge.
Why freezer burn is your enemy. What it is and how to stop it
Freezer burn won’t hurt you. But it’ll spoil the taste of your food.
It’s caused by a natural physical process which happens when ice molecules in frozen food “migrate” to the coldest part of the freezer, usually the walls.
The water is literally being pulled out of the food.
It’s the same process that’s used to make freeze-dried coffee.
If your food isn’t airtight when you put it in the freezer, you’ll get freezer burn more quickly.
The water will leave your food and end up on the walls of your freezer.
So, your food becomes dry and unappetising and it might also develop a metallic taste.
Freezer burn is visible as brownish white marks on the meat.
If there’s any fat in these marks it might get oxidised which, though harmless, changes the smell and the taste.