Most of us lead busy lives, and sometimes, we can forget that we’ve stuffed our chicken meat in the freezer and only remember it when we open up the freezer drawers a week or so after. And chances are, you’ve probably noticed some white stuff on your chicken after you defrost it on the kitchen counter. What is this white stuff and does it make your chicken unsafe to eat?
The “white stuff” that appears on your chicken after defrosting is called freezer burn. This happens when chicken is improperly stored in the freezer for an extended period of time. To avoid freezer burn make sure the chicken is completely enclosed by placing it in a sandwich bag or container.
Let’s explore more in the article below.
How did freezer burn appear on my chicken?
If your defrosted chicken has white spots on it, you probably didn’t store it in an airtight container in the freezer. This white stuff is commonly known as freezer burn. What is freezer burn, you may ask?
Freezer burn is basically what happens when your frozen chicken loses moisture after being exposed to below-freezing temperatures in the freezer for an extended period of time.
These white spots are signs that frozen food has been damaged by oxidation and dehydration. Oxidation refers to air being present in your packaged chicken, leading to dehydration of the moisture that is present inside the fibers of your chicken meat due to the chemical reaction that happens to the meat as it freezes.
All the food that you eat contains water – especially meat like beef, fish, and poultry. When water is frozen, it undergoes a chemical reaction that turns each water molecule into ice crystals that expand up to twice their original size as it becomes solid. As these ice crystals start to form, it draws out further moisture from the rest of the surface area of your chicken meat, and they tend to cluster in the coldest areas of your chicken.
This is why you see sporadic white spots around your chicken meat when it’s being defrosted – these are the clusters that were the coldest parts of your chicken as it was going through the freezing process.
Are the white areas on my chicken dangerous?
The short answer is – no. These white areas are not dangerous per se. They’re more of a minor inconvenience, as you will have to cut these parts out before you prepare your chicken for cooking.
Why cut them out? Well, the main reason is that those areas that have been freezer burned are basically dry and tasteless due to most of the moisture being removed from the area.
So if you’re a fan of the taste of dry, bland, and rubbery chicken, you can leave them on the meat! Otherwise, removing the white stuff means you can still have the rest of the chicken for the meal that you’re preparing.
How do you know if chicken is bad after thawing?
The best way to know if your chicken is bad is to use the two human senses our early ancestors have honed over the generations – smell, and touch.
A surefire method to check if your chicken is bad is to smell it. Of course, frozen chicken doesn’t really have any smell, but once you’ve thawed it, you’ll be able to smell it better. If you catch a whiff of ammonia or any smell that reminds you of rotten eggs, then you know for sure your chicken meat has expired and should not be eaten.
You can also touch your chicken meat to ensure that your chicken has gone bad. After it thaws, feel the meat to see if there is any slimy residue that comes off onto your fingers. If you experience a slimy residue, you’re probably better off chucking that piece of chicken into the bin, as it’s definitely gone bad.
Remember to wash your hands with water and hand soap after doing this! That slimy residue contains food-borne bacteria that have a high risk of contaminating any other kitchen utensils or surfaces you are using next.
How to prevent these white areas from forming on chicken
Unfortunately once your chicken has been freezer burnt, there isn’t much you can do to fix or reverse the process. However, as we now know that freezer burn occurs when you don’t store your chicken in an airtight container, we can now plan to prevent white stuff from appearing on the chicken when you freeze it.
How to store chicken in freezer properly?
If you’re storing your chicken meat in the freezer, consider wrapping it tightly with saran wrap, ensuring that no surface of your chicken meat is directly exposed to the atmosphere.
This prevents any air from entering your chicken while it is in the freezer, and it also maintains a constant temperature across the entire piece of chicken throughout its time in the freezer, which means there are no particularly colder areas where freezer burn may occur.
You can also use freezer paper, which is a specialized paper that protects food like meat, fruit, seafood, and vegetables from freezer burn. Wrap the entire piece of food in the freezer paper and ensure that there are no gaps where air may enter.
Another thing you can do to add an extra layer of protection to your chicken from freezer burn is to store it wrapped in saran or freezer wrap, inside another Tupperware or container that it can fit nicely in with the lid closed tight.
Chicken is a great choice of protein. It’s so easy to prepare chicken meat into all kinds of different dishes that you fancy on any given day. Plus, the best thing about chicken is that it can keep for a super long time in the freezer.
But if you don’t store your chicken properly and in an airtight way, you might very well see some white spots on your chicken after you defrost it. And while these white spots aren’t dangerous, they are certainly tasteless and dry, so you should remove them before you cook your chicken.
Prevention is always better than cure, so remember to store your chicken in an airtight manner before you chuck them in the freezer and you won’t have a problem with white stuff on your chicken after defrosting it anymore.