Eating Freezer Burned Chicken (Can you? Should you?)
We already know that chicken, in its best state, is delicious, nutritious, and protein-rich. However, in the case of chicken having freezer burn, is it safe to eat? Even if it is, do you really want to?
It is generally safe to eat freezer-burned chicken. Freezer burn does not impact food safety. However, it does change food quality. While you can eat freezer burned chicken, it requires more effort in the cooking stage to make it palatable.
While you can eat freezer-burned chicken, it does not mean you should go out of your way to do so. In fact, it’s a good idea to learn how to prevent freezer burn in the first place. Let’s look into freezer burn in-depth and how to handle freezer burned chicken.
Can You Eat Freezer Burned Chicken? (In Detail)
So we know now that freezer-burned chicken no longer has the quality it had when it first went into the freezer. However, we should understand why that is the case, so in this section, let’s cover freezer burn and what it means.
Freezer Burnt Chicken (How it Happens, What it Looks Like, Is it Safe?)
Chicken naturally contains some amount of water. When it is frozen, the water forms ice crystals that move to the surface of the chicken and then to the coldest section of the freezer, a process called sublimation. The water molecules moving away from the frozen chicken leads to moisture loss and dehydration, aka freezer burn.
As a result, the chicken becomes dry and tough. Note that the longer an item is in the freezer, the higher likelihood of it having freezer burn since it takes time for the sublimation process to happen.
What Does Freezer Burn Look Like on a Chicken?
When raw chicken experiences freezer burns, the moisture loss then leads to unpleasant changes in the flavor and appearance of the chicken. It can cause parts of the chicken to appear greyish, brown, or even a combination of both colors. Freezer burn can also potentially give the chicken a more grainy texture.
Why Is Freezer-Burned Chicken Safe to Eat?
If you are storing your chicken in a freezer at a temperature of 0°F or colder, it discourages the growth of bacteria and other pathogens. Since bacteria cannot grow at such low temperatures, the chicken is still safe for consumption even if it has freezer burn. Even chicken that has severe freezer burn is safe to eat.
Cooking Freezer-Burned Chicken
If you want to cook and prepare freezer-burned chicken, it is still possible, although it will take more effort to prepare. Since freezer burn draws out all the flavor and the moisture in a chicken, you will need to work harder to rehydrate the chicken to improve the taste and texture.
Cooking Process for Freezer-Burned Chicken
One way to cook chicken suffering from freezer burn is to cook it in broth and then shred it to make chicken salads or sandwiches. For quality purposes, make sure that you cut out the portions that have freezer burn.
Step 1: Defrost the Chicken and Make the Broth
Start defrosting the pieces of chicken you want to use a day in advance in the fridge. Ensure that you cover the chicken tightly. In a pot, add water and bring it to a boil. In the meantime, you can also chop and fry one whole onion. Fry the onion until it is brown to give it additional flavor.
Set your oven to around 310°. If the pot is now boiling, add your key ingredients: chicken broth, garlic, pepper, tomato paste, and fried onion. Add two cloves of garlic, a generous amount of pepper, and one teaspoon of tomato paste. These ingredients will help to give the freezer-burned chicken some of its flavors back.
Step 2: Add the Chicken
Once the pot is boiling, add the chicken and cover the pot. Let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes to an hour to ensure that the chicken absorbs some flavor from the broth. At this stage, your oven should now be 310°, and you can transfer the pot containing your chicken to the oven.
Leave the chicken in the oven for one hour, checking it periodically. Lastly, take the chicken out of the oven, and after letting it cool slightly, remove the chicken from the broth. Keep at least two cups of broth in the container, but you can get rid of the excess.
Step 3: Shred the Chicken
Shred the chicken and combine it with seasoning, including half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and one teaspoon of black pepper and cumin. Add the shredded chicken back into the broth and put it in the oven for an additional fifteen minutes. Remove from the oven and after it cools, serve in a sandwich or salad.
Consequences of Eating Freezer-Burned Chicken
Although eating chicken with freezer burn isn’t a problem health-wise, if you don’t cook it properly, it can taste rather unpleasant. The cooking process above is an example of one way you can cook freezer-burned chicken to give it flavor. The chicken broth and seasonings are essential since they will add taste to your meal.
When it comes to the nutritional value of freezer burnt chicken, you don’t need to worry, as there is little change in the protein value of the chicken after being in the freezer for a long time.
Studies show moisture loss is most prominent between two to six months after the chicken was frozen. It becomes even more likely after eight months. Beyond that time period, the chicken becomes much tougher and darker if it experiences freezer burn.
Preventing Freezer Burn on Your Chicken
The best way to eliminate freezer burn from frozen chicken is to take a few precautions to make sure your chicken does not experience freezer burn in the first place.
Packaging Chicken To Protect Against Freezer Burn
Packaging is essential if you want to prevent your chicken from becoming freezer-burned. You must try and get as much air out of the packaging as possible by using smaller containers or vacuum-sealing the chicken.
Packaging properly helps to minimize the chicken’s exposure to oxygen. You can use foil, cling film, freezer paper, or even a convenient freezer bag to prevent freezer burn in most any food.
Minimizing Temperature Changes Will Help Eliminate Freezer Burn
Another reason more ice crystals can form on foods is when the temperature in the freezer changes too often. Opening and closing your freezer can cause the temperature to fluctuate, so minimize how much you look in the freezer and only open it when necessary.
Also, it will help if you store your frozen chicken towards the back of the freezer where it won’t be as affected by temperature changes from the opening and closing of the freezer door.
Using Frozen Chicken Faster To Prevent Freezer Burn
Handling your frozen food faster is the best way to prevent freezer burn. If you buy the chicken to store, try using it within five months or less. Five because it is more likely to develop freezer burn after that time period.
Before placing the chicken in the freezer, take a marker and write down the date to know when you first froze the chicken. You can also write down when you should use the chicken to plan your meals quickly.
Can You Eat Freezer Burned Chicken – Conclusion
Overall, it is safe to consume freezer-burned chicken, though it is not as appetizing as it was initially. Now that you know how to prevent freezer burn, you can stop the problem at its source by using the above guide to keep your chicken fresh and flavorful.
Freezer Chicken FAQ
How Do I Know If Frozen Chicken Is Safe to Eat?
There are several ways to tell if the chicken was originally bad before being frozen and is not just freezer-burned now. If the frozen chicken does not smell bad, you can attempt to thaw it in the fridge. After it thaws, check if the chicken feels sticky. Place the chicken under cool water; if the stickiness or sliminess remains, it is no longer safe to eat.
Can You Get Ill From Chicken Frozen a Long Time Ago?
You don’t need to worry about your chicken going bad if you ensure that the freezer is at a temperature of 0°F and that it was originally fresh before the freezing process. It can remain frozen after a long time and would still be okay to eat. However, it may not taste as good as fresh chicken.
Is Vacuum Sealing Food a Good Idea?
Vacuum sealing your chicken (and other foods) is an excellent idea for making sure that you package the chicken adequately and it does not get freezer burn. Vacuum sealing prevents contact with air, ensuring no moisture loss.