Friday, 27 April 2012

The Joy of Frozen Veg

Health conscious readers may have noticed that in my recipe for American Style Barbequed Pork with Beans and Rice, I used frozen sliced mixed peppers, as opposed to fresh peppers.  This is because fresh peppers are ridiculously expensive these days, a standard sized 140 gram pepper is usually around 75p  at my supermarket.  The frozen ones are reasonably priced at £1 for a 500 gram bag.  Keep in mind that frozen sliced peppers don't have any seeds to discard and are easy to use straight out of the packet.  That makes them even better value.  But do they taste as good and are they just as nutritious?


I suggest you answer this question for yourself.  Try making the same stew, curry or stir-fry with fresh and frozen peppers and see if you notice a difference.  If you do, is it great enough to warrant paying three times as much for fresh as frozen?

I generally don't eat frozen vegetables on their own as a side dish.  The texture can be rubbery, especially when it comes to broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.  But I barely notice a difference between fresh and frozen when the veg is chopped or pureed and added to dishes like quiche, casseroles or soups.


If you compared frozen vegetables to ones you pick from your own garden and eat right away, the garden veg will probably retain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  But generally, people chose between fresh and frozen vegetables available at the supermarket.  Supermarket vegetables are rarely 'fresh'.  They often don't arrive on the produce shelves until nine days after being picked, and they can sit there for around four days before their sell-by date.

The nutritional value of vegetables begins to deteriorate as soon as they are harvested.  Fresh vegetables continue to lose nutrients while they are being sorted, packaged, transported and displayed.  Freezing vegetables immediately after harvest preserves them so that no further deterioration takes place.

Part of the freezing process involves blanching in steam or boiling water.  This is done to deactivate enzymes which could cause vegetables to lose flavour, colour and texture.  Blanching also cleans the vegetables and destroys microorganisms.  The only downside of this heating process is that is can reduce amounts of vitamin C, folate and thiamine.  However, the same thing happens when you cook fresh veg at home.

So, unless you are going to pick vegetables out of the ground and put them straight into your mouth, you won't get the full nutritional value.  If you are going to buy veg them from the supermarket and cook it, frozen will probably contain higher levels of nutrients than 'fresh'.

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