How freezing affects the texture of food

When food freezes, the water inside each cell forms tiny crystals that can tear cell walls. When the food is thawed, the liquid inside the cell leaks out, leaving thawed food dryer than fresh food.

Beef that has been frozen, for example, is noticeably dryer than fresh beef. Dry cheeses, such as cheddar, turn crumbly. Bread dries, too. You can reduce the loss of moisture by thawing the food in its freezer wrap so that it has a chance to reabsorb the lost moisture that's still in the package.

You can't restore the crispness of vegetables that get their crunch from stiff, high-fiber cell walls. After ice crystals puncture the walls, the vegetable (carrots are a good example) turns mushy. The solution? Remove carrots and other crunchies, such as cabbage, before freezing the stew.

What's that brown spot on my burger?

Freezer burn is a dry brownish spot left when moisture evaporates from the surface of frozen food. Because freezer burn changes the composition of fats on the surface of foods such as meat and poultry, it may cause some change in flavor, as well.

To prevent freezer burn, wrap food securely in freezer paper or aluminum foil and put the item in a plastic bag. The more air you keep out, the fewer brown spots will develop.

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