Perhaps during the last days, as a result of the state of alarm for the coronavirus, you have seen images of people gathering food, including vegetables, vegetables and fruits and you have thought “it is going to get bad.” This perception is not entirely correct because these products, like meats, fish, seafood and other fresh, can be frozen.
Perhaps we do not have it so associated, or not at least with frozen fresh but it is feasible, simple and can ensure that your chest will never lack peppers, broccoli, peas, leeks or pumpkin (and many more ingredients) without having to resort to frozen foods. Today we explain how to do it and why in the times of the coronavirus it is not necessary to do without these fresh foods. Beatriz Robles tells us about this, food technologist, nutritionist and dietitian, which sets the guidelines for how to make our vegetables last after going through the freezer.
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First step: cutting and slicing
Put on your apron and sharpen your knife because this is the starting point for any frozen vegetable or vegetable. Basically, we must cut and dice each piece for several simple reasons. The first is a mere matter of space: if a bunch of leeks is already bulky in your kitchen, imagine it in the freezer, or a tray of red peppers. Cutting it will prevent them from taking up more space than they should, in addition to obeying other practical reasons, such as being able to better control the rations.
It is possible that you have frozen product without taking into account its size or volume, be it pork, chicken or beef and, when you defrost it, you find yourself with a quantity that is too bulky for what you wanted to cook. As well, Chopping vegetables can give you a better understanding of frozen sizes and culinary requirementsThis will make it easier for you, for example, to find a couple of leeks if you packed them separately than to have them packed together in a larger bag.
However, the third reason why you should chop the vegetables has more to do with their own conservation than with the logistical nature. You must chop it so that you can submit it to the step prior to freezing: blanching -which we will talk about below- and which is necessary to fix nutrients and avoid possible contamination.
Why you should blanch your vegetables before freezing
Quite possibly at some time you have blanched, for example, some spinach or a broccoli trunk so that they maintain their natural greenness and a slightly crunchy touch. As well, that’s the same thing you should do to properly freeze your vegetables. As the expert tells us: “With scalding, enzymes such as lipoxygenases or polyphenoloxidases are inactivated, which would be able to maintain their activity at freezing temperatures, and would produce abnormal odors and flavors, and undesirable brown colors”.
A compelling reason for our frozen products maintain most of their properties and we will not find stale peppers and stale carrots when we open the freezer. In addition, the expert cites another good reason for blanching vegetables: “This heat treatment disables part of the microorganisms, improving the hygienic quality, and expels the oxygen that is lodged in the tissues, which reduces oxidation reactions during storage” .
So how do I scald them?
This process, which many of you will know, is really simple and effective. You only have to submerge the cleaned vegetables already chopped – now it is also relevant that they are cut, since blanching a whole leek can be a circus – in boiling water for a short time (between one minute and three, depending on the product, the most delicate or soft ones needing less time) and then immediately immerse it in very cold water to cut that cooking.
Do not forget to renew the water if you prepare several batches at the same time, since it will end up getting warm and will not do its job, So it is not ruled out that you use bowls of water with ice.
Later, You only need to dry them thoroughly on kitchen paper and proceed to packaging. The drying step is important because if we introduce slightly humid vegetables, the effect of the freezer can burn them. Also, you must remember that this blanching process is done to freeze properly.
When you take your vegetables out of the freezer, you will have to cook them and we also do not recommend that you consume the vegetables that you thaw raw, mainly because their texture and flavor, despite correct freezing, will be diminished, making some of them not susceptible to entering the chest.
Always the best and in perfect magazine condition
It is not the same to resort to a fresh but somewhat bruised pepper for a sauce that we do on the day than to subject it to the frozen one so that it can last for several weeks. Make sure that the vegetables you are going to freeze are in perfect condition, that is: clean, without bumps, damage or bruises.
This step, which seems trivial, is important so that they do not transmit to the rest of the package or jar possible unwanted sensory and organoleptic properties.
Volunteers to get into the freezer
Unfortunately, not all greens and vegetables hold up equally well in the freezer and many of them should not go through it, because their textures are completely ruined. This is the case of those that have a lot of water or that usually consume raw such as lettuce, tomato, cucumber, potato -which is also ruined if we freeze a stew with it- or celery.
Those that are likely to enter are, for example: peas -which you can freeze raw if they are well washed-; garlic; onion, chives and leek; the peppers, clean, free of seeds and chopped; zucchini and squash; chard and spinach; the artichokes; the aubergines; cabbages, kale and kale, or carrots.
Plastic wrap, vacuum, tupperware, airtight jars or bags?
The best form of packaging is vacuum, simply because it eliminates the air that remains inside the bag in its entirety -remember that air implies oxygen and that, therefore, it oxidizes- and because it closes them completely. Airtight bags are also a good solution, although it is more difficult to expel all of the air and we must also make sure that they are properly closed. Otherwise our frozen will pick up strange smells from its drawer neighbors.
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Cheap but relatively bulky it is resort to traditional sealed jars. In this case, clean the jar thoroughly and leave a finger of margin between the vegetables and the lid, since some increase in size when frozen. You can also use tuppers, in which you must also respect some space in case the frozen one grows. Plastic wrap is the most affordable option, although it is also the most controversial because it does not ensure the tightness of the product -Unless we use a huge amount of it- but it is also a good option if we are not freezing in the long term, but in a few days.
Will I be able to save my fruits?
“Fruits can be frozen,” says the expert, but they have some problems that are difficult to solve. “It is not usually scalding because softening is unavoidable and adversely affects its sensory properties, so the freezing of whole fruits or in pieces is a greater challenge for the texture and color to be maintained “, he assures.
“The solution is to peel them, cut them into pieces and immerse them in a solution of water with sugar (40% sugar) and ascorbic acid. Freezing will be good, but we are incorporating free sugars, which is not nutritionally the best“, he assures. Therefore, he offers as a solution,” to use water or juice but the result is worse and in any case implies immersing them in a liquid, “he illustrates.
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Although there are some exceptions that hold up relatively well, such as berries and red berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries …) that freeze better -thanks to their small size- “even if they are not given any treatment”. The last option, more expensive but functional, is “to get a vacuum equipment and vacuum pack them clean and whole -peeled or not-, and then freeze them”, he explains. Citrus fruits also, if peeled and peeled off, hold up moderately well but, obviously, they will not be the same as fresh.
As you can see, in general lines, the freezer is no country for fruit if we want to consume them later fresh, since most of us should take advantage of them for compotes or pastries.
Don’t forget they are there
Remember that the freezers are not Karina searching through the trunk of memories. The fact that a product is frozen does not mean that it will last there for years and years – in fact, its maximum period varies between eight months and a year -, especially depending on the category of our fridge, combi, chest or freezer. So when you freeze vegetables, It is convenient that you write down the freezing date on the pack to know when to use it culinary.
It also doesn’t hurt that you write down in a notebook and even in some mobile application what you have frozen, the amount and the date you made it. Perhaps you can be meticulous but we assure you that it is a simple and successful task so that your meats, vegetables and fish do not become inhabitants almost with the right to vote in our house.
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