Frozen vs fresh: the Case for Frozen Vegetables
When you consider the many advantages of choosing frozen vegetables over fresh, it’s no wonder that frozen is the preferred choice for many foodservice applications.
- The food is picked or harvested at the peak of its freshness and ripeness, and snap frozen within hours. This maximises nutrient levels, keeping them at levels similar to those found in fresh food. In fact they may be even higher when compared to food that has been picked fresh but sits for days prior to use.
- Snap frozen food is better quality than food which is bought fresh and then placed in your freezer or cool room. The snap freezing process is highly efficient and very fast, preventing the formation of ice crystals which can damage food by changing its texture and taste.
- Freezing is a natural way of preventing bacterial growth and enzymic activity. It also eliminates the need for undesirable chemical preservatives.
- Freezing is an ideal storage method for vegetables as it ensures colour, flavour and texture are maintained for long periods.
- Freezing causes very little nutrient loss and preserves the vitamins in food.
- Due to the low freezing temperatures, frozen vegetables are not susceptible to heat damage as is the case with some other methods of preservation.
- Frozen food makes it possible to add more variety to your menu by ensuring you can obtain out of season vegetables all year round.
- Modern freezing techniques, such as IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) methods make portion control and serving easier while minimising wastage – frozen products such as berries are free-flowing so you can use only what you need, then reseal the pack and return it to the freezer until required.
- Many frozen foods require only light cooking and can be quickly prepared with minimal energy.
- Frozen food has a much longer storage life than fresh.
- Frozen food is often a more cost-effective choice than fresh food – it is competitively priced and often offers more consistency of product.
McCAIN freezing methods include:
- Blast freezing – trays of uncovered product are placed on racks in an insulated tunnel or room. Air at -29°C is blown through at high velocity. The process takes between three and 12 hours.
- Plate freezing – product is sandwiched between refrigerated plates for 30-90 minutes.
- Belt/tunnel freezing – uncovered product enters an enclosure on a perforated belt and makes contact with high velocity air at a temperature of -30°C. This process can be completed in as little as 3-5 minutes.
- Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) – this process is similar to belt or tunnel freezing, but in this case the air velocity is so high that product is partially fluidised, therefore completely surrounded by cold air. IQF products freeze so quickly that they don’t weld together. The process is particularly suitable for peas, mushrooms and other products which need to be free-flowing from the packaging while frozen.