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Individually wrap portions of meat to prevent freezer burn

If you don't have a vacuum sealer or freezer paper, wrapping your meats in wax paper can help prevent freezer burn, as well.

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Taylor Martin/CNET

If you buy in bulk and store meat in your freezer, chances are you've also encountered the dreaded freezer burn at some point.

Freezer burn is caused by sublimation, or when water molecules near the surface of food evaporate without ever entering the liquid phase. In other words, the water goes directly from a solid (ice) to gas (water vapor), leaving the food dehydrated, shriveled and often discolored.

Foods that have succumbed to freezer burn are safe to eat. In fact, this is the same process that is purposefully used to freeze-dry some foods. However, it can negatively affect the taste of many foods, such as meats or vegetables.

Fortunately, there's a simple trick that can help protect your meats from freezer burn. Here's how.

Freezing meat without the burn

First things first, you want to remove as much surrounding air from the meat as possible. Most of the time, meat packaged in markets and grocery stores aren't meant for long-term storage. Instead, they're packaged to be consumed shortly thereafter.

That means you'll need to remove the meat from its original packaging. Discard the packaging and trim any unwanted parts of the meat.

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Taylor Martin/CNET

The paper you should wrap your meat in is called freezer paper, and it can be found in many supermarkets and grocery stores. Freezer paper is different from wax paper in that it is a matte paper finish on one side (presumably for writing on it with a marker) and has a thin plastic coating on the other side.

If you do not have access to freezer paper, wax paper will work in a pinch. Just know that wax paper is not as resistant to to moisture or water vapor. Freezer paper is generally rated to keep food items for up to a year in the freezer. Wax paper, on the other hand, should only be used to store frozen foods for a few weeks.

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Divide the meat into portions and tear off a piece of paper that's large enough to fully wrap around a single portion of meat twice. Lay the wax paper flat and place the portion of meat in one of the corners. Fold the corner of the paper over the meat and roll the meat over onto the paper. Meanwhile, maintain pressure on the meat to ensure as little air as possible gets into the paper wrap. Next, fold in the left or right corner of the wax paper and roll the meat over. Fold in the second corner and flip once more. Roll the meat over the remaining paper.

Keeping constant pressure on the meat to ensure that no air enters the wrapper, use a piece or freezer or masking tape to hold the wax paper in place. Repeat this process for any meat you will be storing in a freezer.

After all the meat you will be freezing is completely wrapped, write the date on the paper and what's in the wrap. Place all portions of meat inside a large zip-top bag or vacuum-sealed bag. This help prevent moisture from reaching the meat.

Next time you want to cook some meat for any occasion, remove the large bag of meat and take out the number of portions you need. The meat should be free of freezer burn and ready to be thawed, cooked and eaten.