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

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

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If foods from the freezer show up tough, shriveled, discolored in spots, or spanned in ice crystals, they are probably freezer burnt.

Here’s what you need to know around freezer burn, consisting of whether influenced foods space safe come eat and also how to safeguard your food native this phenomenon.

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Freezer burn is the result of moisture loss. That can happen to any type of food that’s been frozen for a lengthy time.

All foodstuffs contain water, which develops thousands of ice crystals as soon as frozen. This crystals move to the surface ar of food and also eventually come the coldest component of your freezer through a process called sublimation (1).

Sublimation is similar to evaporation, yet it no involve liquid. Instead, a substance alters directly native a solid into a gas. The the factor why ice cubes become smaller if you don’t usage them because that a long time (1).

This ns of water molecules reasons dehydration, make the frozen food shriveled, dry, and tough. Additionally, water loss permits oxygen to cause changes in flavor and color, specifically in meats, poultry, and fish that was not wrapped well (2).

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


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

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

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

Still, choose other techniques of food preservation, consisting of pickling, canning, and also dehydrating, freeze food likewise affects the quality.

If you want to eat food that has been impacted by freezer burn, you deserve to trim off the impacted areas and use the rest. Nonetheless, its as whole quality i will not ~ be equal to the non-freezer-burnt or fresh equivalent (3).

Tests top top frozen chicken chest fillets discovered that humidity loss was most far-ranging between 2–6 months and that after 8 months, the meat to be 31% tougher than when fresh. The color also changed, v breasts coming to be darker and redder the longer they were frozen (2).


Foods impacted by freezer burn suffer in quality, an especially in regards to texture, color, and flavor. However, as lengthy as they have actually been frozen properly, they will certainly still be safe to eat.

Any food stored in a freezer is subject to freezer burn. Yet, due to the fact that it’s resulted in by dehydration, foods items with a greater water content favor produce, meats, poultry, fish, or ice cream often tend to be an ext affected than foodstuffs with a low water content, such as nuts, seeds, or flour (4, 5).

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

You can quickly recognize freezer burn ~ above fruits and also vegetables, as they become dry and shriveled. Castle might also be covered in ice cream crystals since of their high water content, and if you chef them, they’ll likely have a woody texture (5).

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

When ice cream cream gets freezer burnt, it loser its creaminess and also gains ice cream crystals instead.


While any type of food preserved frozen because that long sufficient can get freezer burnt, commodities with a higher water contents fare worse. Indicators of freezer burn encompass dark or white dry locations on meats, shriveled produce, or ice cream crystals on her ice cream.

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

It’s also important come package your food effectively to minimize oxygen exposure. For example, pave meat, poultry, or seafood in freezer document or plastic wrap, then in foil, and then in a freezer bag (3).

Remove as much air as feasible from the packaging of frozen fruits and vegetables, and use little containers to minimize any type of empty an are when freeze leftovers. Girlfriend can likewise cover the top of ice cream cream with freezer document or plastic wrap prior to replacing the lid.

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

Finally, the best means to stop freezer burn is to use your frozen food faster. Only buy what you mean to use within the following 2–4 months, and also when packaging food because that the freezer, mark it v the day so the you can use the oldest assets first.

See more: Can Dry Mustard Be Substitute For Mustard Seed In Pickling, Mustard Seed Substitute


To avoid freezer burn, pave or package foods properly before freezing them and make certain your freezer stays cold enough. The best way to prevent diminished quality is to usage your frozen foodstuffs in a timely path so that nothing it s okay stored for also long.