Freezing Food



My mom never used frozen foods. It was always fresh vegetables. So we always did a weekly vegetable shopping.

Since the concept of frozen food was new to me, when I saw frozen foods, I always thought that frozen vegetables do not have the same nutrients as their fresh counterparts. I started using them often once I came here and started work. You don't have a maid at home who can do all the cutting and cleaning for you. So frozen food is a blessing to a working woman. But it always gave me a sense of guilt that I was not giving the best nutrients to my family. So I did my research on frozen vs fresh and was pleasantly surprised to find that frozen food have the same nutrients as fresh. How soon after being harvested was it frozen is the question that decides the quality of frozen food. The nutrients do not reduce during the freeze period. Here is a link to one of the sites I checked. Well from then on - I have been very happy about using frozen vegetables for cooking everyday food.

You get frozen food in the freezer section of all grocery stores. This would be the best according to me as fresh food gets frozen very soon after harvest if it is being harvested for freezing. The more the time spent outside soil, the lesser the nutrients. But if you want to freeze vegetables yourself, you can do that too. Infact many vegetables can be just washed, cut and frozen. Some need blanching.

Remember a few ground rules though:

• If you are buying frozen vegetables from the market, tranfer them to the freezer as soon as you get home.

• If freezing at home, ensure you remove all air from the freezer bag when closing it to prevent freezer burn.

• If you feel that the vegetables have gone bad, trash it.

Process of freezing

Blanch or steam all vegetables and cool them quickly in ice water before freezing. This step inactivates enzymes that will damage flavor, nutrients and texture during freezer storage.

Process of packing

All packing has be air tight and with as little air as possible. Here in US you g et very convenient zip-lock bags which are ideal for this.

Thawing

I prefer thawing overnight in the fridge. But if you have forgotton and need it immediately, microwave in slow increments of 1-2 min checking inbetween.

Some Common Vegetables

Asparagus Wash well and cut off the tough portions. Depending on the thickness of the stem, blanch for 2-4 min. Cool in ice water for 2-3 min and pack.
Beans Wash well and cut into sizes you want. Blanch for 2-3 min. Cool in ice water for 1 min and pack.
Broccoli Wash well and break flowers into smaller sizes. Blanch for 2-3 min. Cool in ice water for 2-3 min and pack.
Cabbage Remove outer leaves and wash well. Chop into desired sizes - pieces or shred. Blanch for 1 1/2 - 2 min. Cool in ice water for 1-2 min and pack.
Carrots Peel, wash and cut/shred as you want. Blanch for 2-3 min. Cool in ice water for 2-3 min and pack.
Cauliflower Wash and divide into florets. Blanch for 3 min. Cool in ice water for 3 min and pack.
Celery Wash and cut as desired. Blanch for 2 min. Cool in ice water for 2 min and pack.
Cilantro / Dhaniya leaves I haven't been able to freeze this. But you can make it last longer by chopping it and storing it in a paper towel in your fidge. Its lasts about 10-12 days.
Chillies Wash and dry. Pack and freeze.
Cucumber Wash, peel and cut as desired. Pack and freeze.
EggPlant / Baingan Wash and cut as desired. Blanch for about 2 min. Cool in ice water with lemon juice in it (about 1 tsp in a quart of water). Pat dry and pack.
Garlic Separate bulbs. Pack and freeze.
Ginger Wash and cut into desired sizes. Pack and freeze.
Kadi Patta / Curry Leaves Wash and dry. Pack and freeze. Retains its flavor.
Mushrooms Pack and freeze.
Okra / Ladyfinger Wash and cut into desired size. Blach for about 3-4 min and cool in ice water for 3-4 min. Pack and freeze.
Onion Remove outer skin, wash and chop as desired. Pack and freeze.
Green Peas Wash well. Blanch for 1 min and cool in ice water for 1 min. Pack and freeze.
Paneer / Indian Cottage Cheese Cut into desired sizes. Pack and freeze. Paneer tends to stick to one another. So wrap portions individually, so you can take one portion out and thaw it.
Pepper / Capsicum Wash, remove seeds and chop as desired. Pack and freeze.
Potato Potatoes should be cooked and then freezed. You can cut them into desired size, boil until cooked, cool, pack and freeze.
Pumpkin / Kaddu Pumpkin should be cooked and then freezed. You can cut them into desired size, boil until cooked, cool, pack and freeze.
Spinach Wash well and remove stems. Blach in small quantities for 1 min. Cool in ice water for 1 min. Pack and freeze.
Tofu Cut into desired sizes. Pack and freeze. Tofu sometimes changes color on freezing but thats fine. This color change depends on the kind of Tofu used. Tofu tends to stick to one another. So wrap portions individually, so you can take one portion out and thaw it.
Tomatoes Wash, remove stems and cut into halves/quarters. Pack and freeze.


Almost anything can be frozen. I have freezed cooked curries and batters for upto a month. And they stayed fresh. Its just a process of trial and error. If at any time you feel something has gone bad, trash it and its a lesson well learnt.

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