All too often, the freezer becomes a wasteland of forgotten food—last summer’s zucchini bread stuck behind last week’s veggie curry leftovers, and somewhere, half a carton of Cool Whip you’ll never use.
For most of us, it’s pretty much guaranteed that at least one of the items wedged inside is marred by freezer burn.
Here’s the problem: when frozen food is exposed to air, some of its moisture evaporates, leaving behind dry and spongy pockets on the surface. On meat, freezer burn shows up as whitish-brown spots—on other foods, you may see areas that appear puckered. Yet with a little care, you can safely preserve everything from green beans to bacon to bread.
To prevent freezer burn, let food cool first, then wrap tightly in tinfoil or plastic wrap, or, if using a ziplock bag, take time to squeeze all the air out before sealing it. Bottom line, you want as snug a fit as possible. Freeze individual portions for easier defrosting, too. By minimizing the amount of air trapped in with the food, you’ll dramatically reduce the likelihood of freezer burn setting in.
What’s more, packing food properly saves you space—and also keeps items at their peak flavor and texture for far longer. Here’s generally how long you can expect different foods to stay good in the freezer, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation:
- Fruits and vegetables: 8 to 12 months
- Poultry: 6 to 9 months
- Loaves of bread: 6 months
- Rolls or buns: 5 months
- Fish: 3 to 6 months
- Ground meats: 3 to 4 months
Photo credit: Paul Delmont