For as long as there have been ice boxes, people have been dealing with the issue of freezer burn -- that, and dying of consumption. But what actually is freezer burn, apart from a seemingly oxymoronic turn of phrase? What causes it? And more importantly, how can you put a stop to it before it starts?
Here are the answers to those questions.
So, what is freezer burn?
It's important to note that the freezer isn't literally burning your food here; that would be ridiculous. Instead, what we refer to as "freezer burn" is actually the result of dehydration caused by temperature fluctuations in your freezer, exposure to air, food being in the freezer too long, or some combination of the three. The moisture that evaporates from your food forms a film of tiny ice crystals on the surface, can also result in discolorations -- which, in the case of meat, means dark, dried-up patches that make it look as though it's been burnt. Hence: freezer burn.
Can you eat freezer-burned food?
Yes, freezer-burned food is absolutely safe for you to eat, although its flavor is markedly different (read: worse). If you're dead-set on eating that frozen meat, you'll want to cut off the darkened bits before heating it up -- just know that while you're bypassing the worst of it, the rest of your icy repast probably won't be in great shape.