There is a lot of emphasis on eating fresh local produce and I try to do that whenever I can. However, the way we shop in supermarkets makes that difficult when you are not cooking for a family. I find that I have a lot of waste when I buy large packets of fresh vegetables. I will use half a packet and leave the rest in the fridge where it slowly loses its nutrients.
Taking a tip from a Jamie Oliver programme, I now stock my freezer with frozen vegetables and I can use just what I need with minimal wastage. Some added benefits are that it works out cheaper, the food is more nutritious and I can have unseasonal produce out of season.
- Freezing food has been used as a way of preserving foods for hundreds of years.
- The act of freezing the food prevents the growth of bacteria
- The method most commonly used today is flash freezing which freezes water into smaller ice crystals and causes less damage to the cellular structure. The faster the food is frozen, the better quality you will find defrosted.
- Frozen vegetables are usually flash frozen within hours of harvesting and at the peak of its freshness. The wall street journal explains this process in more detail.
Soon after they are picked, vegetables destined for freezing get a quick blast of hot water or steam—known as blanching, which zaps some nutrients but also stops browning and loss of nutrients after freezing. The biggest losses during this step are of water-soluble vitamins like C and B. Then the vegetables are quickly frozen, locking in most nutrients for long-term storage….
Frozen broccoli, strawberries and green peas all had more vitamin C than the refrigerated samples. Frozen spinach, however, had less vitamin C than the fresh or the refrigerated samples. This may be because spinach, when chopped, has a large surface area and more vitamin C can leach out during the blanching step, Dr. Pegg wrote in the paper.
- Quick freezing and storing food below 18°C slows down the degradation of the process.
- Studies have found that frozen vegetables have more vitamin C than fresh.
- Freezing food slows down the loss of vitamins and nutrients
- Most foods can be frozen safely, but some vegetables will lose their structure after being frozen like cucumbers and tomatoes.
- To avoid freezer burn, package the food tightly before freezing. This happens when the food is exposed to air.
- Freeze foods in plastic bags and store flat as it takes up less space and defrosts faster.
- The best way to defrost food is in the fridge, in cold water or in a microwave.
- Most vegetables should be cooked from frozen to preserve the locked in nutrients and most frozen meals are designed to be cooked from frozen too.
- Thawed food should be cooked as soon as possible or kept chilled. It should never be re frozen.
- Frozen foods can be kept optimally for about 4 months for fish, 6 – 12 months for meat and about 18 months for vegetables.
- The best way to cook tasty vegetables from frozen is to steam then and not boil them. If you don’t have time, you can do this in a microwave with a little water in a covered bowl.
In London recently, an ice pizzeria built from 4 tonnes of ice was erected outside Liverpool Street station. The Dr. Oetker Ristorante pizzeria has been created to showcase the freshness of frozen food. The walls were made of blocks of ice with pizza ingredients artistically frozen into them. It even has its own bar with 28 real glass bottles frozen into the blocks of ice, so they look like bottles on a shelf. Glacial Art Ice Sculptors took a month to produce the required blocks of ice. They created this Ice Pizzeria as part of their #freshnessfrozen campaign which highlights the fact that freezing suspends fine ingredients at the peak of perfection and suspends them there until the moment you’re ready to enjoy them.
This post is sponsored by Dr Oetker Ristorante