By Jessica Pittman
Freezing is a quick and convenient way to preserve fruits and vegetables at home. It is the method of food preservation that preserves the greatest quantity of nutrients.
To maintain top nutritional quality in frozen fruits and vegetables, it is essential to: select fresh, firm-ripe produce, blanch vegetables as directed, store the frozen product at 0 °F, and use within suggested storage times.
Fresh fruits and vegetables should be frozen as soon after harvest as possible and at their peak degree of ripeness.
Enzymes in the fruits and vegetables must be inactivated to prevent the loss of nutrients and color and flavor changes that will occur.
Enzymes are inactivated by the blanching process, which is the exposure of the vegetables to boiling water or steam for a brief period of time.
The vegetable must then be cooled rapidly in ice water to prevent it from cooking. The major problems associated with enzymes in fruits are the development of brown colors and loss of vitamin C. Because fruits are usually served raw, they are not blanched like vegetables. Instead, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is used either in its pure form or in commercial mixtures, such as Fruit Fresh™, to control the activity of the enzymes.
Freezing is a simple method of preserving our hard efforts we put forth in the garden. It can also be a fun tradition to share with your family members and pass down to younger generations.
The texture of our fruits and vegetables will change due to chemical reactions that occur during freezing, and that’s why some vegetables or fruits are not suitable for freezing.
If you would like to read more helpful information on freezing your fruits and vegetables at home, come by your local extension office and ask for a copy of HGIC 3063 Freezing Fruits and Vegetables or search for it on the web at http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/
By Jessica Pittman