Benefits of Frozen Vegetables

Why frozen vegetables can be the healthy choice

There is no denying that frozen vegetables are very convenient and save a lot of time for busy cooks, but they do provide other benefits as well. In an ideal world we would all eat organically grown vegetables that were harvested immediately before cooking, but unfortunately this is not possible for most people. We have to use canned or frozen vegetables for convenience or when the vegetables we want are out of season and, unlike most canned vegetables, frozen ones keep much of their nutritional value and can even be healthier than the fresh vegetables sold in supermarkets.

Commercially frozen vegetables

Vegetables picked for freezing are usually processed at the peak of their ripeness when they contain most nutrients. Although some water soluble nutrients such as the B vitamins and vitamin C tend to be broken down by blanching with steam or hot water this step is necessary to prevent degradation by enzymes or bacteria. The vegetables still contain quite a lot of nutrients unlike some of the ‘fresh’ produce we find in our supermarkets. These vegetables are usually picked before they have ripened so they do not have as long to develop the vitamins and minerals that you find in fully ripened produce. Although they may show outward signs of ripening, they do not develop their proper nutrient content. A further problem is that they are likely to be exposed to heat and light on the long journey to the supermarket and this can further diminish their vitamin and mineral content. You may need to think about how to block lectins too to make sure you absorb the most from the vegetables. Unless you are able to buy really fresh and ripe vegetables, you will be better off buying frozen ones to ensure you give your family the highest level of nutrients.

Freezing vegetables at home

If you are able to grow your own fruit and vegetables you will know that you are frequently faced with a glut of certain vegetables. Most vegetables can be frozen and it makes sense to freeze them at the peak of condition for use later on. Most vegetables should be blanched before freezing and you will need a wire basket to contain them. Blanching is done by plunging the vegetables into rapidly boiling water which you then bring back to the boil as quickly as possible. Time the blanching period (which varies with different vegetables) from the second that the water reaches the boil again. When the blanching time is up, the vegetables should be plunged into iced water to cool quickly so they do not cook any more, drained and dried. Always remember to label bags or containers of frozen produce with the contents and the date they were frozen.

For large amounts of produce, a chest freezer will be more practical than an upright if you have the room for one. Freezers are capable of freezing different amounts of produce at a time, so if you are intending to do much home freezing you need to look carefully at the chest freezer range to ascertain which will be most suitable for your needs.

Frozen vegetables, whether commercially or home frozen, should be eaten within a few months as they will inevitably lose some of their nutrient content. Steaming or microwaving vegetables is preferable to boiling because it reduces the loss of water soluble vitamins.