How to make sure your food never gets freezer burn again

Keep your frozen foods tasty, not dry and pasty, with these simple tips.

​Meat patties with freezer burn.

Meat patties with freezer burn.

Alina Bradford/CNET

It's so disappointing when you pull a steak out of the freezer and it's covered with a solid inch of ice, the meat is all discolored and it looks something like a dog toy. Don't let this happen ever again. You can protect your meats and other frozen food items with proper storage.

Lock it up tight

Freezer burn happens when water molecules in food migrate to the coldest place in the freezer. Typically, the coldest areas are the walls of the freezer, according to the Library of Congress. If your food isn't wrapped up properly, the water molecules leave your food and go elsewhere, leaving the food dry. Oxygen can also turn your food funny colors and change the taste.

So, to keep your food moist and air-free you need to seal it inside a container as tightly as possible. A vacuum sealing storage system is ideal, but if you don't have one you can get similar results with a zipping freezer bag.

First, put your food item in the bottom of the bag. Next, close the bag until there is an opening at the top that's only around ¼ inch wide. Press all of the air out of the bag and then quickly zip it shut the rest of the way.

If you decide to store food in a container, make sure that the container is filled to the top or as closely to the top as possible. If your freezable container has a plastic lid, hold one edge of the lid up slightly and press down on the rest of the lid to release any air that may be trapped in the container. Quickly seal the lid while pressing down to prevent air from reentering the container.

Don't leave it in too long

You can't leave food in the freezer indefinitely. No matter how well you package your foods, it will get freezer burn after extended periods of time in the freezer. The US Department of Health and Human Services offers a chart that can be printed and posted on your freezer door to help you keep track of freezing times. Don't know when you stuck something in the freezer? Next time, write the day's date on the storage bag with a permanent marker.

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