One of the main problems related to food waste is the lack of awareness on the storage methods of fruits and vegetables for the winter. It is important to know that one of the most effective conservation methods is freezing, as it is healthy and safe. This method has many advantages, as it helps us benefit from vitamins contained fruits and vegetables in the cold season. As a long-term method of storing fruits and vegetables, it is believed that freezing, in terms of maintaining their nutritional properties, is more effective than drying.
How does the freezing process take place
Freezing involves lowering the temperature of the product to -18 ° C or lower, which inhibits the growth of microorganisms and enzymes that cause food damage. This is a process that does not require much effort, since, in comparison with pickling or marinating, one does not use additional ingredients. One can also create its own mix of vegetables, which can then be used in soups, stews or other dishes.
Fruits and especially vegetables should be boiled or scalded before freezing. Before scalding, they must be thoroughly washed and cut into equal pieces. Then they are added to boiling water and left for 1-5 minutes, depending on fruits or vegetables. After that, they are quickly transferred to a bowl of cold water (about 15 ° C) to stop the cooking process, activate enzymes and preserve color. It is important to know that boiled fruits or vegetables should be left to cool, but not more than 30 minutes, since bacteria can develop. They are also wiped with a napkin or kitchen towel to avoid the residues of water.
For storage in the freezer one can use plastic bags, however, strong and waterproof packaging specially designed for freezing is recommended. Aluminum containers with a lid or plastic crates can also be used. On the package it is recommended to indicate the name of fruits and vegetables and the date of freezing.
Bags with frozen vegetables and fruits should contain as little air as possible, so they must be filled with products to the maximum and air should be removed from them.
Basic rules for freezing fruits and vegetables:
- fruits and vegetables should be fresh. Soft parts or those that began to deteriorate should be removed;
- it is not recommended for the packed fruits and vegetables to contain water;
- vacuum bags, although they are more expensive, are more effective and make frozen products more durable;
- large fruits, such as apricots, peaches, pears, plums, are cut into small cubes, after their seeds have been previously removed;
- strawberries or berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) can be frozen as a whole;
- fruit juices or sauces can be frozen in jars or other glass containers;
- most vegetables (berries, tomatoes, corn, carrots, pumpkin) are placed in boiling water or boiled for several minutes, then quickly passed through a stream of cold water;
- sweet peppers can be frozen immediately after washing with cold water, eggplants can be frozen both fresh and after they have been immersed in boiling water or after they have been baked on the grill;
- parsley, dill or lovage are frozen after they are washed, wiped with a paper towel and allowed to dry. They can be frozen both whole and chopped;
- frozen fruits and vegetables should be consumed within one year - one and a half years from moment of freezing, because over time they will lose their nutritional properties.
Fruits and vegetables can be frozen on their own or purchased from local producers. Here you can find more information about industrial freezing, as well as a list of producers that manufactures frozen fruits and vegetables in Moldova.