Can I Cut Freezer-Burn Off a Tuna Steak and Cook the Rest?

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While eating freezer-burned food won't hurt you, it will definitely leave a bad taste in your mouth. Freezer burn has nothing to do with food safety, but unfortunately, it adversely affects quality. Rescue lightly freezer-burned tuna steaks by removing the afflicted areas of meat before cooking as usual.

Identifying Freezer Burn

  • Freezer burn on tuna steaks and other meats presents itself in the form of grayish-brown leathery patches. Caused by oxidation, or the contact of oxygen on the surface of the fish, freezer burn leaves fish and other meats with a tough texture and altered flavor. Cut any areas of freezer burn off of a tuna steak before cooking for the best results. In cases of extensive freezer burn covering large areas of the tuna steak, discard the entire steak.

Frozen Fish Best Practices

  • Always thaw frozen tuna steaks in the refrigerator -- not on the counter. For quicker thawing, use a microwave's defrost setting or immerse the tuna steak in cold water, changing the water frequently until the tuna is thawed. Once a freezer-burned tuna steak is pliable, inspect it further for quality. Smell it before cooking, as fish that has been freezer burned often develops a rancid smell, rendering them of poor quality for cooking. If the now-fresh tuna steak smells bad, discard it without cooking.

Preventing Freezer Burn

  • Prevent freezer burn by properly packaging tuna and other meats for freezing. Always use a freezer-safe bag or container when freezing tuna steaks. Wrapping tuna steaks in more than one layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil and then sealing them in freezer-safe bags is effective to extend the freezer life of tuna steaks and other frozen foods. If you freeze a lot of seafood and meat, use an airtight, vacuum-sealing storage sealing system to better package items and prevent freezer burn.

Freezer Timeline

  • Outside of packaging, the easiest way to avoid freezer burn is to simply eat tuna steaks within the recommended time frame before freezer burn has a chance to occur. Freeze tuna steaks for up to 3 months for the best quality. This recommendation is for quality only -- frozen foods remain safe indefinitely if continuously frozen at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, but they won't necessarily be tasty forever. Because tuna is a fatty fish, storing it beyond the recommended length will result in a loss of quality quicker than many other meats.

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