Enjoy this super informative guest post from Ana Brady.
Healthy food-growing standards for organic food (no chemicals, pesticides, growth hormones, genetically modified organisms, etc.), have some disadvantages: organic food is in most cases seasonal. Not everyone has the means to operate a greenhouse.
If you are health-conscious, you understand the invaluable benefits of using organic food in your diet, but you are also aware of the fact that seasonal food cannot be used throughout the year, unless frozen.
Here enters the old dilemma: yes or no to frozen organic food?
If you’re afraid your ripe, healthy and expensive veggies will lose their taste and worth once frozen, you’re greatly mistaken. Food producers are starting to recognize the value of frozen food more and more, especially during off-season periods. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense:
Food manufacturers wait until their organic products are in their peak condition, full of nutrients, and that’s when they pick and freeze them. If picked too early or too late, they wouldn’t have the maximum amount of nutrients of a fully ripe vegetable. Freezing them in this nutrient-rich state guarantees that once thawed, the food will be as good as when you purchased it. So, you see, using frozen food is healthier than using “fresh” food that already lost its nutrients.
Seven Tips to Make Organic Food Freezing Worthwhile
This goes double so for organic food, whose nutrients are twice worth saving than regular pesticide-packed food.
If you say ‘yes’ to freezing organic food, you might start thinking of the problems:
- How to keep all the rich contents, pesticide-free vitamins and nutrients?
- How to keep the taste as good as when freshly plucked from an organic garden?
- How to make sure to use frozen food while it’s still safe?
Here are seven easy-to-remember tips that will help you preserve your food properly. It would be a shame to waste products that are, not only more expense, but also nutrient-richer, rigorously inspected and proven healthy.
- This goes for all kinds of food you are freezing: keep it at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. All other precautionary measures you’ll take in order to preserve food become meaningless if you store food at higher than recommended temperatures.
- Freezer burn is bad. It happens when you don’t pack your food tightly, and air gets into your food and dehydrates it. Then it becomes grayish and tasteless. Avoid freezer burn by tightly wrapping your food with foil, freezer plastic wrap or paper, or place it inside freezer plastic bags, but make sure you squeeze out all excess air. If you think laziness or a busy schedule might prevent you from doing this properly, just remember the value and cost of organic food.
- Though frozen food serves to prolong the life of meats and veggies, it DOES have a life span. Don’t keep frozen food in the freezer until it becomes an ugly dark blob that you want to get rid of asap. If you prepare food properly, it can last up to six months. One of the most important things about this is properly labeling food.Use strong adhesive freezer labels to keep an inventory of when you put the package in the freezer, and some other information that might be useful to you. Without “freeze by” reminder on your label, you can end up with lots of food that might or might not be ready for garbage – you’ll never know.
- It’s best to store organic food in small packages – one package per serving. The problem with keeping a big chunk of food in the freezer is that once you want to use it, you have to thaw the whole thing. You probably won’t eat all of it, and refreezing food is not recommended.
- Don’t go around opening and closing freezer doors all the time, because it can damage your frozen products. Food closer to the door is more exposed to fluctuations in temperature due to door opening and closing, so it’s the best to keep the oldest food there, or, the food you’ll be using the soonest.
- If you discover that freezing food is great, like I did, don’t start fanatically freezing everything you buy or make. Tender veggies will slump down after thawing, for example. Also, foods high in water, such as celery, strawberries, melons, cucumbers, lettuce, etc., should not be frozen. I found that creamy cakes I make change their taste after freezing, in a way I’m not sure I really like. You might make a few mistakes before you get the hang of what’s good to freeze and what’s not.
- Freezing does NOT kill bacteria and enzymes in food. It just slows them down. If you’re really serious about preserving your organic vegetables, the wisest thing to do is blanche them before freezing. This process of quickly immersing veggies in boiling water, then in cold water, and freezing them ensures all enzymes and bacteria are gone.
To sum it all up: don’t let any air enter the food packaging, keep good track of when you froze your food, and try to avoid refreezing.
Once you’ve mastered this simple guide to freezing organic food, you can stop wasting time and money on food, at the same time feeling good about eating healthy. Try it.
Ana Brady is a working mom of two, and a member of a creative group that recently finished their Freezer Labels project. Ana likes to write about nutrition, healthy living, family life, and similar topics.