The Trick You Need to Know to Prevent Freezer Burn

Plus, four other freezing do’s and don’ts that will revolutionize your weeknights.

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You don’t have shell out hundreds for a vacuum sealer with those special bags, just follow Geoffrey Zakarian’s ingenious method.

The secret to getting a weeknight meal on the table fast is often your freezer stash. But if you find freezer-burned meats and unidentifiable hunks of something or other, you will inevitably call in the takeout backups rather than subject your family to mystery meat or possible food poisoning. In their first-ever supersized episode, The Kitchen co-hosts come to the rescue with easy tips for making the most of your freezer.

Do: Label, label, label

Sure, you’ve been doing memory games online and you can solve any Sudoku puzzle blindfolded, but you will not remember what you froze three months ago. “I know you think you're going to know what it is. You never know what it is,” says Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. Don't play the steak-or-pork guessing game! Write down what is in the package and add the date.

Don’t: Throw the package from the market into the freezer

“You want to take it out of the bag for a couple of reasons, there’s air in that bag and you don’t know when they packed it,” says GZ.

Geoffrey Zakarian shows how to DIY vacuum seal meat to prevent freezer burn, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Do: Get the air out of your freezer bags

Air is the enemy of frozen food and it leads to the dreaded freezer burn. But you don’t have shell out hundreds for a vacuum sealer with those special bags, just follow GZ’s ingenious method. Fill a large bowl or plastic tub with water, take your labeled freezer bag and seal it three quarters of the way. Push the bottom of the bag into the water and the air will push itself out. Submerge the bag stopping just shy of the unsealed portion and then seal it just above the water.

Jeff Mauro shares how to freeze chicken in marinades to save prep time, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Do: Freeze marinated meat

We all do it. We walk out the door without marinating steak or chicken and then miss that deep flavor that a marinade adds to the leaner cuts of meat. Jeff Mauro’s trick will solve that problem and the meat may taste even better after a few months. However, “the marinade shouldn’t have a lot of acid, sugar or salt,” warns Jeff. “The acid, the salt will denature the fibers of the protein.”

Katie Lee shows how to pre-portion grains to prevent freezing in clumps, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Do: Freeze flat

“Don’t ever freeze your chicken and your proteins clumped up,” advises Jeff. “You want it as flat as possible.” Even stews and soups benefit from flat freezing. “Then I can file them almost and they defrost so much quicker,” he adds. Katie freezes quinoa, grains and pasta the same way. She lays the cooked grain on a sheet pan and lets it cool completely. She also recommends freezing the grais in individual portions.

For more easy weeknight recipes and tips watch a two hour episode of The Kitchen Saturday at 11a|10c.