For most of us, summer is a time for gardening and enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables. Before you know it, it will be the time to begin preparing for those cooler fall and winter months! I get asked a lot about freezing fruits and vegetables and if nutrients are lost in the process. Freezing fruits and vegetables are a great way to preserve the taste, color, and nutrients! The only vitamins that are lost through freezing are vitamin E and B6 and anything stored after 6 months may lose some Vitamin C.
Fruits can be sliced before freezing and frozen together which makes it really handy for quick smoothie perpetration. It is recommended to blanch vegetables in boiling water or lightly steam them before freezing. Natural enzymes found in foods change the food’s flavor, color, texture, and even some of nutritional value. When you freeze them, it slows this activity down but does not entirely stop it. Some nutrient loss can occur when vegetables are blanched before freezing (don’t over cook!) however, the nutrient losses from enzymatic activity are greater if vegetables are not blanched.
The water in fruits and vegetables expands during freezing which results in breaks in the cell walls. That’s why thawed foods can have a soft, mushy texture.To maintain as much of the crisp texture and have as little nutrient loss as possible, freeze them at the lowest possible setting on the freezer.
Make sure your fruits and vegetables are properly packaged. Ziplock bags are suitable for short-term freezing but can contain air so it is best to get as much air out as you can before freezing. Removing the air helps prevent the food from drying out as well as unwanted freezer burn. You can accomplish this by inserting as straw into a small opening and sucking out all the excess air. Air in the bags can change the coloring of the food as well as change the flavor. You can also use one of the many sealing products on the market.
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