Freezing Fruits & Vegetables
Freezing is a simple and fast method of home food preservation that maintains the natural color, flesh flavor and nutrient value of most fruits and vegetables. However, the quality of each frozen product is affected by the following:
- the freshness of the product used
- the methods of preparation
- the packaging
- the freezing conditions
Steps to Success in Freezing Foods
- Good Quality Food
- Careful select foods for freezing. The quality of the food coming out of the freezer will be no better than the quality of the food before it was frozen.
- Careful Preparation
- Speed in preparing and freezing
- Proper Packaging
- Package or wrap food for the freezer to protect it from moisture loss and preserve its food value, flavor, color and texture. Use moisture-vapor -proof packaging materials to prevent evaporation and to retain quality. Suitable containers for freezing include wide-mouth can-or-freeze glass jars, freezer quality plastic containers, freezer bags placed inside freezer cardboard containers and freezer grade self-lock plastic bags.
- Loading the Freezer
- Cool all foods and syrup before packaging. Freeze foods at 0ºF or lower as soon as possible after packaging. Do not overload the freezer with unfrozen food. Add only the amounts that will freeze within 24 hours - usually 2 to 3 pounds of food per cubic foot of freezer space. After food is completely frozen, arrange it in the freezer so that the food frozen the longest will be used first.
- Length of Storage
- Frozen food undergoes slow changes while in storage and will not retain its quality indefinitely. The length of time that frozen food will maintain quality in frozen storage depends on: proper handling before freezing, packaging material used, storage temperature and kind of food stored.
Foods that Should Not be Frozen
Freezing is a convenient form of food preservation. There are some foods, however, that do not freeze well. Freezing does not improve foods. The water inside the food expands when frozen causing cell walls to rupture. When these foods thaw, the water will seep out and result in a softer product. Some foods will become tough and rubbery while others become crumbly. Here are some foods that should not be frozen:
- leafy vegetables, cucumbers, celery, radishes*
- baked or boiled potatoes
- cooked pasta or rice
- cooked egg whites
- icing made with egg whites
- cream, pudding or custard fillings
- milk-based sauces
- sour cream
- mayonnaise or salad dressing
- cream cheese or cottage cheese
- gelatin salad or desserts
- some fried foods
- deli salads and sandwich fillings
* Cucumbers and cabbage as part of a marinated slaw can be frozen. The texture, however, will not be he same as fresh slaw.
When growing or purchasing foods for freezing, select varieties recommended for freezing. Extension publications, seed catalogs and growers are good resources. Fruits should be firm when ripe. Vegetables should be young, tender, fresh and not wilted.