You don't really think much about maple syrup aside from when you pour it on your pancakes. But did you know what it's doing to your body?
Freezers are magical appliances: They allow us to save homemade soups and sauces for months on end, keep ice cream frozen for our daily after-dinner sundaes, and store ice for cocktail parties (a must). As essential as it is to freeze leftovers and frozen pizzas for zippy suppers, freezers aren’t always our friends. In fact, they can sometimes be the foe—namely, when so-called “freezer burn” infiltrates our supply of frozen foods.
Let’s get one thing clear: Freezer-burned food is completely safe to eat. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “freezer burn is a food-quality issue, not a food safety issue.” The FDA notes that freezer burn often presents itself as “as grayish-brown leathery spots” on the food in question. So even though freezer burn doesn’t always look or taste quite right, it doesn’t mean your food is spoiled or otherwise harmful if consumed.
Burt's Bees Makes a Lotion That Shoppers Call a 'Saving Grace' for Sunburned Skin — and It's on Sale
“I hope to never burn this badly again, but I will be stockpiling this lotion all the same”With record heat waves continuing to hit most of the country week after week, it's safe to guess plenty of us are suffering from some brutal sunburns this summer. There is no shortage of sunburn relief options out there, but what does vary wildly is the effectiveness of those solutions.
That being said, freezer burn can render the items in your freezer wholly unappetizing, covering them in swaths of ice crystals and leaving them with a bland, off taste. So how does freezer burn form? It’s actually quite simple: As Shelly Schmidt, professor of food chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explained, freezer burn is simply a byproduct of moisture loss, or dehydration.
When food is exposed to the cold, dry environment of a freezer, its water content—in the form of ice—undergoes sublimation, a process by which solids are transformed directly into a gaseous state. After this ice is drawn out from frozen food as vapor, it’s then redeposited on the surface as ice crystals. This is why freezer burn so often results in food that’s simultaneously discolored, shriveled, or leathery and covered in ice crystals.
The Choco Taco Lives On in Our Hearts (and in This Recipe)
If the news of our dearly departed Choco Taco has you down, pick up a few ingredients and make our homemade version.I remember the joy of unwrapping the first Choco Taco of each elementary school summer, fresh from the neighborhood ice cream truck. That first bite through a crisp waffle shell, peanut-spiked chocolate coating and rich ice cream ribboned with chocolate fudge signified that school was, indeed, out for summer. My high school cafeteria served them, among other novelties, like Drumsticks and the ice cream versions of Snickers and Twix, as add-ons to our school lunches.
Video: Most Americans Have This in the Freezer (Buzz60)
Okay, but how do I avoid freezer burn in the first place?
Now that we’ve cleared up what freezer burn actually is, we’re in a better place to protect our food from its not-so-tasty effects. Because freezer burn results from contact with the freezer’s cold, dry air, the simplest way to avoid the problem is by minimizing that exposure in the first place.
“Different types of [materials] will vary in how much air they let through them, as well as odors and what we call moisture vapor, or airborne moisture,” says Elizabeth Andress, food safety specialist and professor of foods and nutrition at the University of Georgia. Plastic or silicone zip-top bags are one great option for limiting air exposure, and for larger items, double-wrapping first with plastic wrap and then with heavy-duty aluminum foil will do the trick.
Though these solutions are pretty solid, if you’re looking for the maximum level of protection against freezer burn, you may want to bite the bullet and purchase a vacuum sealer—especially if you plan on freezing food often and for long periods of time. “In addition to pulling the air out of the package, they are much more preventative at letting anything [in the air] transmit through the plastic itself,” says Andress.
Whether you’re using a high-tech vacuum sealer or good ol’ cling wrap, the same principle applies: Keep your frozen food wrapped as securely and tightly as possible. Your make-ahead meals, ice cream, and dino nuggets will thank you.
What's your favorite tip for avoiding dreaded freezer burn? Tell us in the comments!
How to Keep Bread Fresh and Fabulous .
Whatever you do, do NOT refrigerate it.In fact, one method is far superior to all others, and that’s the freezer. But if you’re short on freezer space or you just prefer to keep your bread at room temperature, we tested a handful of other bread storage methods and ranked them below.