Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Buy Frozen

By: Keith

how-to-freeze-foods-4

 

For a long time I’ve insisted on buying what I referred to as fresh fruits and vegetables for my family.  It was my understanding that the fruits and vegetables from the produce isle were the best I could get without going to a farmers market.  I had shunned the frozen varieties because I always thought the frozen ones were the retards of vegetable society, that they were the fruits and veggies that didn’t quite make the cut.  I thought of them as the Junior Varsity level fruits and veggies.  I was wrong – mostly.  Frozen produce is usually of higher nutritional value than the non frozen produce that we find in grocery stores.  The reasons for this actually make a lot of sense.  I just never stopped to think about it.  Keep in mind that I am talking comparing frozen to grocery store non-frozen.

 

Quality Comparison

 

citrusshed3The highest quality food we can get will always be the stuff we can grow ourselves.  Not many of us can do that though.  The next best option is a farmers market where vegetables and fruits are usually picked and sent to market within a day of harvesting.  The down side is, of course, that lots of us live in areas where there is not a year round farmers market.  That’s when we rely on the supermarkets.  The fact about vegetables from the supermarket, organic or not, is that they are not picked at peak freshness.  Because of long transit times they are picked before they are ripe and then allowed to “ripen” on their way to the market.  That means that they never reach their full vitamin profile potential.  Furthermore, they often times end up sitting on a produce rack, waiting to be bought, for at least a few days or maybe a week.  That means they will actually start to leech out the vitamins that they do have.  By the time you buy them they are nowhere near the quality of a farmer’s market fruit or vegetable.

 

“58 percent of the vitamin C found in freshly picked green beans is lost within three days” –  Barbara P. Klein, Ph.D., of the Division of Foods and Nutrition, University of Illinois

 

Frozen Retains Freshness

 

Frozen foods retain their peak nutritional value because of the flash freezing process.  They are harvested at their peak and they are frozen within a day or two.  The flash freezing process doesn’t sacrifice any nutrients and it stops the ripening process so that none get lost.  Flash freezing also helps break down the outer cellulose layer of many vegetables and thus aids in digestion when we eat them.  There is one caveat to buying frozen fruits and veggies.  There is a grading process by which the highest quality produce is labeled fancy.  The fancy frozen foods are the best in terms of size, shape, freshness and color.  Look for frozen foods labeled fancy and you won’t go wrong.  Even better, you could buy organic frozen food.  Organic refers only to the growing method.  Organic produce goes through the same harvesting and shipping methods as its conventional counterparts; it will have lost nutrients in the same way.  Buying veggies organic and frozen will keep pesticides out and nutrients in.

 

Boiling Wastes Nutrients

 

BoilingWaterIt is true that the recommended preparation method for frozen veggies will result in fewer nutrients.  Water soluble nutrients like the B vitamins and vitamin C will be lost if the vegetables are boiled for too long.  They get boiled off into the water and do not stay in the vegetable.  One way to avoid losing those vitamins is, believe it or not, to microwave the vegetables.  I’m not a huge fan of the microwave, but I mention it for people who aren’t scared of them like I am.  What I do is use my frozen veggies in stews and soups.  That way I get all the nutritional value and pay significantly less.  If I do boil them on the stove top I use little water and don’t boil them for long.  The water I do use is purified water so that I can just drink the excess at the end (only about a cup or two and it tastes pretty good).

 

“… data showed that the nutrient content level for certain nutrients was higher in the frozen version of the food than in the raw version of the food.” – FDA

 

Extra Ingredients

 

You will find that not all frozen food packages contain only the ingredient in the picture on the package.  Be sure to buy frozen foods where the only ingredient on the package is the fruit or vegetable that you’ve intended to buy.  Avoid packages that have added sugar, syrup or any kind of citric acid or other preservative.  If I buy frozen mangos the ingredient list should look like this:

 

Ingredients:  Mangos

 

 

What to do with your Frozen Fuits

 

vita-mix-eastman-64I drink frozen wild blueberries almost every morning.  I own a Vita-Mix blender that I use frequently.  I throw my frozen fruits in there with some milk and turn the sucker on.  In less than a minute I make my kids and I a smoothie.  I don’t do anything fancy, maybe just a few fruits, some milk and a little bit of honey.  If I soaked some almonds overnight then I also throw them in.  It’s breakfast and it’s nutritious and easy.

 

Truly fresh produce is difficult to find.  If you don’t live near a farmer’s market or you don’t grow your own food then finding nutritionally superior food can be hard.  One way to do it is to buy it frozen.  If you’re careful to prepare them in a way that doesn’t hurt the nutrients then it’s a win/win.  You get all the benefit of eating quality food and you save money doing it.  I’m not a gourmet; all I want is to get nutrients into myself and into my kids.  I can’t prepare fancy meals or make pretty dishes.  Foodies are particular about getting great tasting foods in order to make the greatest dishes.  If I can get the same nutrients then I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of taste.  Frozen foods don’t exactly taste awesome by themselves, but for those of us who are stupid in the kitchen they will certainly keep us healthy.

23 Responses to “Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Buy Frozen”
  1. Evan Macbeth October 26, 2009 at 2:27 pm #

    I’ve become a huge fan of the frozen mixed-veggie “steamer bags” you can pick up in any frozen section. High-quality, good taste and they come out of the microwave perfectly. This has become a primary source of veggies in our house.
    .-= Evan Macbeth´s last blog ..Competition Is American =-.

    • Keith October 26, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

      Hi Evan! I think you’re right about veggies coming out of the microwave just fine. I have always had a thing against microwaves even though there is no scientific reason that I’ve ever read that would support that fear. We just recently went to the frozen veggies and it’s worked out great for us too. Thanks for the comment and thanks for visiting again :-)

  2. J. Cruikshank October 26, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    Interesting, plus they make great ice packs before you eat them!

  3. BigLittleWolf October 26, 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    Really informative. I tend to steam – and not for long – when it comes to veggies, to retain nutrients. Interesting article, Keith!
    .-= BigLittleWolf´s last blog ..Why women love baseball… movies =-.

  4. Tamy Pelletier October 26, 2009 at 5:41 pm #

    Just testing the button. Oh, and you can steam veggies on the stove.. they make those neat collapsable baskets for that.. but I bet you got nifty one with those top of the line pans you bought a few years back. :) Good article! Great information!

    • Keith October 26, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

      Hey, Tammy! The button works! Yay :-) I have a lot of fancy things, that’s true. however, I don’t have a steaming thingy. I need to get one.

  5. Keith October 26, 2009 at 6:27 pm #

    Ice packs! Like meat on the eye :-) Actually, the frozen corn is great for that because it’s so even (no lumps) :-) That’s another blog post!

  6. Keith October 26, 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    Thanks, Wolf, for the comment. Steaming is a great way to do it. Retains all the freshness and still cooks them up nice :-)

  7. Dennis Yu October 26, 2009 at 10:08 pm #

    I love frozen veggies because they’re cheap, convenient and healthy– especially with those new steam in the bag types. And you don’t have to worry about them going bad.
    .-= Dennis Yu´s last blog ..Facts you probably didn’t know about the Yellow Pages =-.

  8. Angie October 27, 2009 at 6:43 am #

    As far as veggies…..it’s cheaper to buy frozen than fresh anyway. Plus since they are frozen you can stock pile (with in reason!!).

    • Keith October 27, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

      Thanks for the visit, Angie. Of all people who would know something about savings it would be you :-) I completely agree — cost savings + nutritious = win!

  9. dadshouse October 27, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    I understand the nutrition and ripeness angle, but I prepare my fresh veggies in a way that simply can’t be done with frozen. Swiss chard and beet greens, for instance: http://dadshouseblog.com/2009/09/25/recipes-for-cooking-swiss-chard-and-beet-greens/

    I do blend my frozen fruits – great snack for my teens!
    .-= dadshouse´s last blog ..Good Samaritan Cyclist Loses the Girl =-.

    • Keith October 27, 2009 at 7:34 pm #

      Dadshouse, You’re right that the non-frozen ones typically have a nicer texture and do indeed work better in some dishes. I just eat the frozen ones because I’m a dumb dumb in the kitchen :-) Now that I know they’re so healthy I’m justified in my ineptness in the kitchen! HAHA

  10. Caryn B November 4, 2009 at 12:48 pm #

    Great article!!! I had no idea…of course I always thought fresh was better. A very well-written article!
    .-= Caryn B´s last blog ..Holiday Gift Guide 2009: Super Soaker 50 =-.

  11. Native Momma November 4, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    I have the make do method in the kitchen I hate try to store 1,000 fancy kitchen things so I’ve figured out how to do some things with out the proper equipment.
    To steam vegetables put them in a colander (should be a metal colander)
    Fill a small fry pan with some water
    place colander in fry pan
    place a lid inside the colander right on top of the veggies (like from your smallest pot)
    let the water boil for a few minutes until they are yummy looking
    :)
    .-= Native Momma´s last blog ..Getting Ready for the Holidays =-.

  12. Stephanie November 5, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    Well-written and well-thought-out, Keith. You offer so much value on your blog.

    I actually was already aware of many of these benefits. We buy frozen fruits and vegetables quite regularly. In fact, I would say we cook + eat a frozen produce item once a day…or at least every other day.
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: vaccines =-.

  13. VegeFruitsLoverz November 25, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    OH ! That is flash freezing process that makes the frozen fruits and vegetables; more reliable option than the fresh ones. Nice info, if I am not wrong I think lot of bacterias injurious to health stop there growth at a temperature where things tend to freeze.

  14. Diabetes June 4, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    Proper nutrition and daily physical exercise is the best way to prevent the occurrence of obesity and accompanying metabolic disorders. Thx for this post!

  15. Sally August 11, 2010 at 9:10 pm #

    We are a factory that could produce many kinds of frozen vegetable&fruit. Such as deozen strawberries, frozen broccoli, frozen califlower, frozen green pea, frozen mix vegetable, frozen sweet corn, frozen carrot, frozen soybean, frozen sword bean, frozen taos and so on.
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    Best Reagrds
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    Laiyang Ruifeng food co.,Ltd

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