Written by ann Danahy, MS, RDN top top February 17, 2020 — medically reviewed through Natalie Olsen, R.D., L.D., ACSM EP-C

You’ve most likely experienced finding a package of meat, vegetables, or ice cream at the bottom of your freezer that didn’t look fairly right.

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If foodstuffs from the freezer show up tough, shriveled, discolored in spots, or covered in ice cream crystals, lock are most likely freezer burnt.

Here’s what you should know around freezer burn, including whether affected foods space safe to eat and also how to safeguard your food indigenous this phenomenon.

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Freezer burn is the an outcome of moisture loss. The can take place to any kind of food that’s been frozen because that a long time.

All foodstuffs contain water, which develops thousands of ice crystals when frozen. This crystals migrate to the surface ar of food and also eventually come the coldest component of your freezer with a procedure called sublimation (1).

Sublimation is comparable to evaporation, yet it doesn’t involve liquid. Instead, a substance transforms directly indigenous a solid into a gas. That the reason why ice cubes become smaller if you don’t use them because that a long time (1).

This lose of water molecules causes dehydration, do the frozen food shriveled, dry, and tough. Additionally, water loss permits oxygen to reason changes in flavor and color, particularly in meats, poultry, and fish the was no wrapped fine (2).

The longer foodstuffs are save in the freezer, the greater the chance they’ll construct freezer burn and also suffer in top quality (2).


Freezer burn occurs as soon as frozen food loses moisture and oxygen move in to take it its place. This results in drier, tougher, and often discolored food.

Freezer-burnt foodstuffs may look unappetizing and have an uncomfortable texture and also off-flavor, yet they’re still for sure to eat.

If her freezer is set to 0°F (-18°C), bacteria and also other harmful pathogens cannot grow, and your food will certainly be safe to eat — as lengthy as it to be fresh once you put it in and you thaw it properly (3).

Still, prefer other approaches of food preservation, consisting of pickling, canning, and also dehydrating, freeze food likewise affects that quality.

If you desire to eat food that has been influenced by freezer burn, you can trim turn off the affected areas and also use the rest. Nonetheless, its in its entirety quality won’t be same to its non-freezer-burnt or fresh counterpart (3).

Tests on frozen chicken breast fillets discovered that humidity loss was most far-ranging between 2–6 months and that after ~ 8 months, the meat was 31% tougher than as soon as fresh. The color additionally changed, with breasts ending up being darker and redder the much longer they were frozen (2).


Foods influenced by freezer burn endure in quality, particularly in regards to texture, color, and also flavor. However, as lengthy as they have been frozen properly, they will still be safe to eat.

Any food save in a freezer is topic to freezer burn. Yet, because it’s resulted in by dehydration, foods with a greater water content prefer produce, meats, poultry, fish, or ice cream often tend to be much more affected than foods items with a low water content, such together nuts, seeds, or flour (4, 5).

Meat, poultry, and fish may construct dark brown or grayish-white leathery areas. As soon as cooked, the texture may be dry and also tough (2, 5).

You can easily recognize freezer burn ~ above fruits and also vegetables, together they come to be dry and shriveled. Lock might also be spanned in ice cream crystals because of their high water content, and also if you chef them, they’ll likely have actually a woody texture (5).

Starchy foods items like cooking grains, rice, or pasta, and baked goods like bread or cake, will develop a rougher texture. Meanwhile, grains might be coated v ice crystals, and also baked goods will be dry and also less voluminous (5).

When ice cream cream it s okay freezer burnt, it loses its creaminess and also gains ice crystals instead.


While any kind of food maintained frozen because that long sufficient can get freezer burnt, commodities with a higher water content fare worse. Signs of freezer burn incorporate dark or white dry locations on meats, shriveled produce, or ice crystals on your ice cream.

You can minimize freezer burn by keeping your freezer in ~ 0°F (-18°C) or lower. Food freezes quicker at this temperature, allowing smaller ice crystals come form. These are much less likely than larger crystals come significantly readjust the quality of your food (3, 5, 6).

It’s additionally important come package her food correctly to minimization oxygen exposure. For example, wrap meat, poultry, or seafood in freezer record or plastic wrap, climate in foil, and then in a freezer bag (3).

Remove as much air as possible from the packaging the frozen fruits and vegetables, and also use little containers to minimize any type of empty an are when freeze leftovers. You can additionally cover the peak of ice cream cream v freezer paper or plastic wrap before replacing the lid.

Opening your freezer frequently causes the temperature inside to fluctuate, and more ice crystals form when foodstuffs start come thaw. Thus, only open it as soon as necessary.

Finally, the best means to protect against freezer burn is to usage your frozen food faster. Only buy what you suppose to use within the following 2–4 months, and also when packaging food for the freezer, mark it v the day so that you deserve to use the oldest commodities first.

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To avoid freezer burn, wrap or package foods items properly prior to freezing them and make certain your freezer remains cold enough. The best method to prevent reduced quality is to usage your frozen foods items in a timely manner so the nothing gets stored for too long.