April 12, 2021

7 tips to prevent freezer burn

How to prevent freezer burn.
How to prevent freezer burn.

You stock up on steaks during a winter sale. You wait 4 months for grilling season. You eagerly extract the steaks from the freezer—only to find that they’re brown and shriveled. That, dear reader, is the heartbreak of freezer burn.

Freezer burn happens when air reaches the surface of frozen foods, creating patches that are dry and discolored. Although freezer-burned foods are safe to eat, the leathery texture and degraded flavor make them less appealing (might be time for a stew!). 

Here's how to save your food from freezer burn.

  • Keep the freezer temperature at 0°F. When the freezer temperature goes up, frozen food releases moisture, which forms ice crystals when the temperature drops again. Which leads us to the next tip...

  • Let food cool in the refrigerator before moving it to the freezer. Consider it a time-out that keeps hot foods from increasing the freezer temperature.

  • Plastic wrap doesn't cling to itself as well when cold, so tightly double wrap the food. Plastic wrap manufacturers suggest keeping foods for no longer than 2 weeks if wrapped in plastic.

Carrots show excess frost.
  • When freezing food in plastic storage containers, fill to the top to leave less room for air. And "burp" the container by opening one edge of the lid slightly while pushing down on the center of the lid.

  • Remove as much air as you can from zip-top plastic storage bags before sealing. Should you invest in freezer bags? Opinions vary. Regular and freezer bags both are made of low-density polyethylene; freezer bags are thicker, so they let in less air over time. For long-term storage (and for extra durability) you might want to spring for freezer bags. For short-term storage, regular bags are fine.

  • If you have a stand-alone freezer where you store food for a long time, consider investing in a vacuum sealer to make sure no air can reach the food surface.

  • Time is the enemy of frozen food, no matter how well you wrap it. Label each food container with the date you put it in the freezer and use older foods first. You might find it helpful to move older food to the front of the freezer. Some people go so far as to keep a list of what's in the freezer and when it was added.

Symptoms common to all freestanding freezers

Choose a symptom to see related freezer repairs.

Main causes: leaky door or lid gasket, broken defrost heater, bad defrost bi-metal thermostat, defrost control failure, faulty compressor
Main causes: lack of power, bad compressor, refrigerant leak, bad thermistor, defrost system failure, dirty condenser coils, control failure
Main causes: burned out light bulb, bad door or lid switch, faulty LED light board, wiring failure, control system failure
Main causes: excessive frost, bad defrost heater, bad defrost bi-metal, control system failure, low refrigerant charge, compressor problems
Main causes: damaged door or lid gasket, cracked cabinet liner, bad defrost bi-metal thermostat, broken defrost heater, bad defrost timer
Main causes: compressor failure, no refrigerant, faulty sensor, control failure, broken defrost heater, bad defrost bi-metal thermostat
Main causes: lack of power, control system failure, broken compressor start relay, locked up compressor, compressor motor failure
Main causes: dirty condenser coils, condenser fan failure, dirty bottom front grill, leaky door or lid gasket

Articles and videos common to all freestanding freezers

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your freezer.

August 19, 2022

Are DIY appliance repairs safe?

Are DIY appliance repairs safe?

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August 17, 2021

How to read a wiring schematic video

How to read a wiring schematic video

Learn how to decipher symbols so you can buy the right part for your problem.

December 15, 2014

5 tips for finding food in the freezer faster

5 tips for finding food in the freezer faster

Don't get chapped hands digging through the icy depths. Get organized! Here's how.