"Study results reveal that the nutritional value of frozen fruits and vegetables are generally equal to - and in some cases better than - their fresh counterparts."
Nearly 90 percent of Americans fail to consume the recommended amounts of vegetables and nearly 80 percent fail to meet dietary recommendations for fruit. While Americans struggle to add more fruits and vegetables to their diets, a recently concluded study reveals one simple solution: frozen.
The Frozen Food Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering scientific research, public awareness and education regarding the nutritional value of frozen foods, partnered with the University of California-Davis (UC Davis) to evaluate the nutrient content of eight commonly-purchased frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables: blueberries, strawberries, carrots, corn, broccoli, green beans, green peas and spinach.
The study, conducted by lead researcher Dr. Diane Barrett of UC Davis, used methodologies designed to eliminate discrepancies in the harvesting, handling and storage of fruits and vegetables used in the analysis. Like produce found in farmers' markets, the fruits and vegetables used in the study were locally grown, harvested and stored by the UC Davis research team. Each fruit and vegetable was analyzed under the following conditions: frozen (analyzed within 24 hours of harvest and after 10 and 90 days of storage in a freezer) and fresh-stored (analyzed within 24 hours of harvest and after three and 10 days of storage in a refrigerator).
Study results reveal that the nutritional value of frozen fruits and vegetables are generally equal to - and in some cases better than - their fresh counterparts.
"The study was designed to mimic the quality of produce found at farmers' markets or grown in consumers' backyards," said Dr. Barrett. "The study revealed that in most cases frozen produce is nutritionally equivalent, and often superior, to its fresh-stored counterpart. In particular, the vitamin C content of frozen corn, green beans and blueberries was significantly higher than their fresh-stored counterparts."
The nutritional value of water-soluble vitamins - namely the amount of riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) - was generally the same or greater in frozen versus fresh produce.
The study found that freezing has a positive effect on the vitamin E content of the fruits and vegetables as compared with fresh. Additionally, the nutrient value of five minerals (calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron), fiber and total phenolics (health-promoting plant compounds) were, for the most part, well-conserved in frozen fruits and vegetables as compared to fresh.
"Freezing is simply nature's pause button," said Foundation President Kraig R. Naasz. "This research adds to a growing body of evidence that supports the important role frozen fruits and vegetables can play to help America meet daily intake requirements."
Did you know that you can freeze witloof?
Neither did I. In fact, I had no idea what witloof was. After doing a little research, I discovered that witloof is a type of herb, useful in salads. Even if you won't be freezing your witloof, there are lots of other fruits and vegetables that you can freeze, which makes for easy cooking or snacking.
What is Blanching Vegetables?
Blanching is a process of food preparation, usually a vegetable or fruit, is plunged into boiling water, removed after a brief interval, then plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water to halt the cooking process. Blanching neutralizes bacteria present in foods delaying spoilage. This is often done before freezing and refrigerating vegetables.
|List of vegetables you can freeze including recommended freezer times for veggies.|
|Asparagus||Wash and cut off any spears and woody parts. Cut in half and blanch in boiling water for three minutes. Let cool in ice water for three minutes and then drain. Put wax paper on a cookie tray, lay the asparagus out on the sheet, and freeze for a half-hour. Pack in freezer bags for efficient storage.|
|Beans lima||Shell, wash, blanch, cool and drain.|
|Beans||Wash and remove ends. Leave whole or slice into 11/2-inch lengths. Blanch, cool and drain.|
|Beets||Wash, Trim tops leaving 1/2 inch of stem. Cook in boiling water until tender. Cool, peel and cut into slices or cubes.|
|Blueberries||Blueberries freeze particularly well and will keep in the freezer for up to a year. Simply lay a single layer of unwashed, dry blueberries out on a cookie sheet and freeze. Washing them before freezing will compromise the texture and toughen the skins. Transfer the frozen berries into dry pack freezer bags or cartons.|
|Broad beans||Shell and wash. Blanch for 1 1/2 minutes and cool in ice water for 1-2 minutes. Freeze in the same manner as the asparagus, for 30 minutes, and pack in freezer bags, making sure to remove the air. Broccoli: Use the tender stalks and heads without flowers. Wash thoroughly, blanch for three minutes, cool in ice water for three minutes, drain, and freeze in the same manner as asparagus, for 30 minutes. Pack in freezer bags, making sure to remove the air.|
|Broccoli||Split into pieces about 11/2 inches across. Blanch, cool and drain.|
|Brussel sprouts||Trim and remove outer leaves. Blanch, cool and drain.|
|Cabbage||Strip the outer leaves off and wash the rest. Cut into thin strips or shred and blanch for 1 1/2 minutes. Cool in ice water for one-two minutes. Pack in freezer bags and freeze.|
|Carrots||Scrub and chop any large carrots into smaller pieces. Blanch three minutes, chill three minutes. Freeze in the same manner as the asparagus and pack in freezer bags, making sure to remove the air.|
|Cauliflower||The same method as broccoli.|
|Celery||Wash the tender stalks and cut into one inch pieces. Blanch for two minutes, chill for two minutes. Freeze in the same manner as asparagus and store in freezer bags, removing the air.|
|Cucumber||Chop in food processor - peeling is optional. Pack into airtight containers or freezer bags, making sure to seal well.|
|Eggplant||Wash, peel and slice. Blanch, cool and drain.|
|Mushrooms||Pack clean mushrooms in freezer bags, remove air, and freeze.|
|Onions||Peel and either chop or cut into rings. Wrap in layers of plastic wrap and store in an airtight plastic container or freezer bag. Freeze up to three months.|
|Parsnips||Remove tops, wash, peel and cut into 1/2 inch cubes or slices. Blanch, cool and drain.|
|Peas||Shell, wash, blanch for one minute, and chill for one minute. Freeze in the same manner as asparagus and store in freezer bags.|
|Peppers||Wash, remove seeds, and slice into strips. Freeze in the same manner as asparagus and store in freezer bags.|
|Potatoes||If they are new potatoes, scrub and cook in boiling water until they are almost done. Drain and let cool, then pack in freezer bags. You can also freeze mashed potatoes for up to three months.|
|Pumpkin and Squash||Wash, cut into small pieces and remove seeds. Cook until soft in boiling water. Remove skin. Mash cool, package and freeze.|
|Sweet corn||Clean well, making sure to remove all the silk. Cut off the top of the cob and wash again. Blanch for five-seven minutes, depending on size, and chill for five-seven minutes. Wrap each cob individually in plastic wrap after draining and store in a freezer bag.|
|Tomatoes||Wash and remove stems, cut into halves, quarters, or leave whole. Dry and pack into freezer bags and freeze.|
|Turnips||Wash, peel and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Blanch, cool and drain.|
Unless otherwise specified, it is not recommended that you keep these frozen vegetables over six months.
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