Avoiding Freezer Burn

"My frozen chicken doesn't look so great anymore. Why not?"

If you've taken out your chicken and it looks a little dried out and discolored, it may be freezer burned. Don't worry, it's still safe, but it's definitely not top-quality anymore. Just cut off the parts with freezer burn and use the rest.

There are a number of reasons why chicken might have freezer burn. One is that it has remained in your freezer too long. Sometimes it's easy to shove a package back and bury it under other items in a freezer, especially if you have a chest freezer like me. I love my chest freezer dearly, but sometimes I curse it. I can't tell you how many times I've taken out just about everything and put it on the floor just to find that one item. A great trick that some people use is one where they get different sized plastic storage containers or trays and place like items inside each. It's a brilliant way to keep things organized and rotate out food so it doesn't get freezer burn. Plus, it's much easier to take out a half-dozen or so trays than it is to take out 50 individual items when you're looking for something.

Another reason chicken might get freezer burn is that it wasn't repackaged or wasn't repackaged correctly. Chicken kept in the original package (except for tightly wrapped whole chickens), tend to have a large amount of air pockets. You'll notice that it's especially in these areas that the chicken gets most dried out and looks like it has freezer burn. You may even have repackaged in ziplock freezer bags, but if you didn't remove all of the air, that could be the problem. 

The trick to avoiding freezer burn is to remove all the air surrounding the food. You can do this by filling your bag with chicken to be frozen. Zip the bag until only a small part remains unzipped. Take a clean drinking straw and insert it into the bag into the part with air. With one hand, zip the bag tight up to the straw. Now suck out the air (it shouldn't be much). Immediately pull out the straw and zip it simultaneously. Now label the bag with the contents and the date. 

And don't forget to use that chicken up within the next 9 months to avoid freezer burn.


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