Why Does My Freezer Make My Food Taste Bad?

May 23, 2022
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Improper Storage Can Lead to Awful Tasting Freezer Burn

Freezers are great for maintaining food quality if you are not ready to use food right away. What happens if the food stays frozen for too long? Freezer burn could cause bad-tasting food. However, your freezer may be the culprit, too.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states to store frozen foods at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below to be safe for consumption upon thawing. Discarded freezer burned food is a part of the $165 billion in food that Americans toss in the trash yearly. Reassuring your fridge is operational is the first step to improving food quality.

Photo of a woman eating bad tasting food

Freezer burn can severely compromise the taste of food

To get better results with your frozen food, we will highlight:

  • What is a freezer?
  • Why do water filters cause bad-tasting food?
  • How incorrectly storing food makes it taste off.
  • How to correctly freeze fruits and vegetables.
  • How to correctly freeze the meat.
  • Removing the bad smell from your freezer.

What Is Freezer Burn?

If your food has a freezer burn taste on it, you might as well throw it out. The food quality degrades when freezer burn hits meats, fruits, and other stored frozen food.

Freezer burn dehydrates and oxidizes frozen food and alters its color and taste. The freezing process preserves the food to stay how it was before its frozen state.

Sublimation occurs when ice crystals get onto the food and inside its packaging. For example, it can alter chicken breast from its usual pinkish color to a light brown. Sublimation is also the same thing that causes the ice cubes in your ice cube trays to become smaller over time. An ice maker full of cubes will show the same effect.

As food such as meat, produce, and ice cream freezes, its internal water converts from a solid to gas. Keep the freezer at the same cold temperature. Try not to open it too often unless you need to get food out for a meal.

Photo of freezer burned vegetables

Freezer Burned Vegetables

Freezer burned food is still safe to consume. The phenomenon only affects food quality. Throw away overly freezer-burned food and opt for fresher alternatives to have a more pleasing meal experience.

Why Water Filters Cause Bad-tasting Food

Fridges and freezers have water filters. If you fail to change this every so often, your refrigerator unit can become damaged beyond repair. Refrigerator ice accumulates as the water filter deteriorates, causing bacteria build-up and bad-tasting food.

Experts recommend changing the water filter in your fridge and freezer at least every six months to maintain food freshness and to keep the unit operational. If you find that the ice in your freezer tastes or smells bad, then it’s time to change your freezer’s water filter.

Why Incorrectly Storing Food Makes It Taste Bad

Incorrectly storing your food can cause a metallic taste. Many types of meat contain chromium. Some fruits have copper in them.

As the vitamins and minerals in these foods break down, you will notice the metallic taste if you attempt to eat freezer-burned food. The moisture is extracted from the food because of the sublimation process, which also exposes the vitamins at the forefront that cause more of a metallic taste in them.

You can stop your food from tasting like a freezer by making sure it is tightly sealed with no air pockets. You can remove air pockets from freezer bags before placing them in the freezer with either of these methods:

  • Push the bag gently to remove as many air pockets as possible.
  • Leave one inch of a bag open and place it in a pot of warm water with the open part exposed. While the bag remains in the water, push on the bag gently and then close it off completely for more of a vacuum seal effect without using an actual machine. This prolongs shelf life more so than the stand-hand method explained above.
  • If you have a vacuum seal device, utilize this whenever you are about to store food in the freezer to prolong its shelf life.

How to Correctly Freeze Fruits and Vegetables

Freezing fruits and vegetables can alter food quality over time, leading to a chemical taste. However, you can take measures to prevent this from happening.

If you do not blanch vegetables first, the enzymes will break down to cause a chemical taste. Blanching will deactivate the enzymes while they are frozen to maintain optimal freshness.

Before you freeze fruits, add ascorbic acid to keep them fresh. The ascorbic acid will keep the enzymes at bay so that the fruit tastes the same when it’s thawed for eating.

Follow the specific suggested time frames for storing fruits and vegetables from the Almanac. Most fruit can last 10-12 months, except bananas, avocados, and citrus. Most vegetables (bamboo shoots, beets, beans, and okra) can last 10-12 months. Tomatoes only last for two months frozen.

How to Correctly Store Meat

If you freeze meat, try to use it within 1-2 months of the original date you froze it for optimal freshness. Especially for safeguarding meat quality, you want to follow the suggested freezer storage time frames from North Dakota State University.

Photo of freezer burned sausage

These sausages have a lot of frost on the outside and look to be freezer burned

Meats have been recommended for freezing For example, uncooked meats like steak and chicken can last up to 12 months in the freezer while cooked meats can last 3 months except for poultry that can last 4 months.

Remove the Bad Smell From Your Freezer

Bad smells accumulate in your freezer because of improperly sealed packages or food without a bag or box. Exposed food leaves its odors behind in the freezer.

Remove the bad smell from your baking soda or use warm water and dish detergent. Either method will freshen your freezer from its bad odors.

Baking Soda

Baking soda works great for removing bad smells from your freezer and fridge. Grab two one-pound boxes of baking soda from your local supermarket. It does not matter which brand you use, whether a store or name brand.

Write the current date on each box. Open the tops halfway and place one in each area.

Replace the open boxes at least every three months for optimal freshness. Replace the baking soda boxes earlier than three months if you notice an odor returning to your freezer.

Warm Water with Dish Detergent

Remove all the foods from the freezer. Mix hot water with your favorite dishwashing detergent and wipe down the freezer walls. Rinse the freezer with a gallon of water and a tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach to refresh and sanitize the unit.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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