Fruits and veggies are a staple in virtually every diet, providing nutrients, new tastes, and low-calories to your meals.
And while nothing beats fresh fruits & veggies, frozen alternatives are very viable, healthy options.
But how do you know you’re choosing the best frozen produce? We’ll give you a few tips on how to get the best bang for your buck:
- If the frozen produce is properly stored, packages should feel firm. They shouldn’t be limp, wet, or sweating – all tell-tale signs of thawing.
- Having said that, you should still be able to feel the individual pieces, and not large blocks of food. Large clumps of produce are a sign of the contents thawing, then re-freezing.
- Avoid stained packages, or anything with visible ice crystals.
- Look for plain frozen veggies, without butter, sauces, or added salt. For frozen fruit, choose brands without added sugar.
- U.S. Grade standards are a good indication of quality. Grade A are the best – the most colour, and tenderness. Grade B aren’t quite perfect, but have a more mature, slightly different taste. Grade C have even less colour, but are perfect for soups, stews, and purees.
When you’ve chosen your bag of frozen produce, follow these tips for home storage:
- Frozen foods should be stored at zero degrees or lower.
- If you’re using the whole package, you can thaw it in its original package in the fridge, or add to a bowl of cold water for faster thawing. You can even microwave them, according to the package’s directions.
- Frozen veggies should be blanched before freezing, to better hold colour and flavour.
- Wash fruit before freezing, so there’s no prep work needed when you’re ready to cook. You can toss the still-frozen chunks into the blender for a frosty smoothie, for example. To thaw, use the same cold-water-in-a-bowl technique as you do with veggies.
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