The ability to freeze fresh food has revolutionised the way that we eat. Whether you buy frozen goods from the supermarket or make your own food and freeze batches or leftovers, it’s hard to see our lives without the ability to freeze food.
The process of freezing food reduces the speed of the food deteriorating in quality and cuts down on its exposure to bacteria, therefore making it last longer.
What is Freezer Burn?
Freezer burn is a common problem for those who freeze food, and whilst it isn’t harmful to our health, it can reduce the quality of the food that has been frozen. Freezer burn occurs when moisture from the piece of food is lost and then frozen on the outside of the food.
It is possible to see freezer burn on your food. It usually shows itself as the discolouration of your food or you can also see it through the formation of ice crystals on its outside.
How to Prevent Freezer Burn
Due to the fact that freezer burn occurs when air or moisture freezes around the food, the best way to eliminate freezer burn is to stop its exposure to it. By wrapping your food well, and keeping it airtight, you can take out the air and moisture and stop freezer burn from happening. This means that your food will remain safe to eat and full of taste.
The best way to wrap your food so that it is airtight, is by vacuum packing it.
What is Vacuum Packing?
Vacuum packing is the process of making the environment of an item (in this case, food item), airtight. It is a kind of MAP (modified atmosphere packaging) when the oxygen is taken out of packaging and closed with a seal, thus modifying it and making it airtight.
Once your food has been vacuum packed, you can then freeze it in the freezer and reduce the possibility of freezer burn occurring. Food can then be kept for months, if not years in the freezer, giving you the option to eat what you want, how much you want, when you want, and without any significant wastage.
What Foods can be Vacuum Packed?
It is true to say that most foods can be vacuum packed and frozen, but there are a few for which it isn’t recommended. It is important for some products to be able to `breathe’ when in storage, and so these wouldn’t be suitable. Remember that warm food should be cooled completely before freezing to help to eliminate the moisture which is lost.
There are, however, many products which are suitable for vacuum packing and freezing, including:
- Meat and Fish – pork, poultry, red meat and fish are all suitable for vacuum packing and then freezing for storage and longevity. You should think about making sure that you keep the meat well protected. Red meat is sometimes vacuum packed with an inert gas – a gas which has a low reactivity with other materials – to guard against its discolouration.
- Baked Foods – Although some baked foods need to be allowed to ‘breathe` when being stored, others are ideal for vacuum packing and freezing.
- Pasta – It is a good idea to vacuum pack dried pasta for freezing as it can still have some levels of moisture in it.
- Soups and Liquids – can be preserved beautifully with vacuum packing and freezing, as the elimination of air around it will reduce the chance of freezer burn.
- Spices and Seasonings – can also have extra moisture in them, so the best way to freeze them but avoid freezer burn is to vacuum pack them first.
Following on from this, you should try to limit the food’s exposure to higher temperatures as much as possible once it is frozen. Try to keep ice cream out of the freezer for as little time as possible, for example, and try to open your freezer door as little as possible. This will help to minimise the amount of warm moisture in your freezer – which will then freeze. If you have vacuum packed all of your freezer contents, this won’t make too much of a difference, but for some frozen foods such as ice cream, it is good practice to keep them at their best.
With the busy lives that we live today, and limited time that we have to cook from scratch, being able to freeze food is more important than ever. By being able to vacuum pack and freeze your food without freezer burn, you can maintain the quality and keep your food as delicious as it was, fresh.