There are many things in life we can't know with certainty -- like what's really in the In-N-Out Burger's secret sauce or why bacon milk shakes taste so good. But then there are those that, with a little bit of research, we can find answers to, like what is freezer burn and why does it happen?
Many of us have seen freezer burn. We've thrown out food because of it. Or have suffered a foul-smelling freezer at its hands. And now, we're going to find out what it is exactly and how to avoid it.
When you freeze foods, the water molecules turn into ice crystals. And in an effort for self-preservation, these molecules will naturally migrate to the coldest area they can find, which is normally close to the sides of the freezer. When the molecules migrate, the area they leave behind gets dehydrated (and if it's meat, you'll see dry, grayish spots). That is freezer burn.
As a side effect of freezer burn, oxygen molecules seep in where the water molecules once were. The oxygen can dull the color and change the flavor of your food. This is why food with freezer burn is no longer palatable -- even though it's still safe to eat.
So, how can you avoid this? Easy. Make sure you wrap your food properly. Don't leave your food in the freezer too long. (While the freezer does prolong the life of food, it does not do so indefinitely.) Lastly, have your freezer set at 0 degrees fahrenheit.
Now that you've gotten to the bottom of freezer burn, you can sit back, freeze some meat -- the right way -- and enjoy a bacon milk shake, while you ponder what makes In-N-Out's burger so damn tasty.
Problem: Freezer Burn
Freezer burn happens most often when food is not properly stored in the freezer. While it doesn't make food inedible, it does change the taste and texture of your food and <a href="http://www.ehow.com/info_8764568_causes-freezer-smell.html" target="_hplink">can cause an off smell in the freezer</a>.
Problem: Spoiled Food In The Fridge
You most likely don't have spoiled food in your freezer, since all the food in there is frozen. But if food has spoiled in your fridge, the smell can easily travel into the freezer, creating an unpleasant odor in both spaces.
Problem: Drip Pan
Drip pans are there to collect any water your stand-alone freezer gives off. And that water is not clean -- and definitely doesn't smell like fresh spring water. Keeping the drip pan clean will help control the freezer odors. Just be sure to shut the freezer off before you clean it.
Problem: Ice Maker
You may think the ice maker is safe from bacteria because it only comes in contact with water, but it's actually one of the most <a href="http://www.ehow.com/info_8764568_causes-freezer-smell.html" target="_hplink">common places where bacteria can hide</a>. All the small crevices of the ice maker make it a bacteria breeding ground. If you clean it regularly, not only will that help with your freezer odor, but your ice will taste normal again.
Solution: Defrost The Freezer
Defrosting the freezer may seem like a chore you just don't want to undertake, but it really will do wonders on fixing that unpleasant odor. For a step by step tutorial on how to defrost your freezer,<a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Defrost-a-Freezer" target="_hplink"> check out this site</a>.
Solution: Vinegar, Baking Soda Or Coffee Grounds
While defrosting your freezer should always be the first step in cleaning out this appliance, sometimes that just isn't enough for getting rid of odors. You can try the baking soda cure (place a bowl of baking soda in the freezer with the door open for a couple of hours. You can try the vinegar method -- wiping the freezer down with a warm water and vinegar mixture. Or you could try the coffee cure -- place of bowl of grounds in the freezer with the door closed for a couple of hours. These three natural methods <a href="http://www.fsis.usda.gov/pdf/removing_odors_from_refrigerators_and_freezers.pdf" target="_hplink">absorb the unpleasant smells</a>.
Solution: Commercial Cleaners
If all other cleaning methods fail, fear not. There are always commercial cleaners sold at hardware and house-ware stores that clear up the unwanted odors. To use these, just follow the <a href="http://www.fsis.usda.gov/pdf/removing_odors_from_refrigerators_and_freezers.pdf" target="_hplink">manufacturer's instructions</a>.
WATCH: Make Defrosting Your Freezer Easier