Frozen vs. Fresh vs. Canned
Even before you started taking culinary class online, you probably wondered about the merits of fresh food versus frozen or canned items. Growing up, many people eat canned food from their cafeteria school lunches and even at home. College often abounds with frozen foods because of their ease of use. Fresh foods may be reserved for those living on farms or who have access to local markets. In reality, there are nutrition differences as well as benefits and downfalls for each type of food.
There is a difference between the vegetables you pick in your garden and then spend hours canning versus the ones you buy at the supermarket or convenience store. The ones you make at home do not have any extra ingredients, such as preservatives or chemicals, unless you choose to use them. Plus, you can really control the flavor of the finished food because you choose the ripeness of your veggies along with the seasonings and sauce used to preserve them. You also decide when to eat the food, meaning how long it has been stored and residing in the can or jar.
As far as nutrition goes, some canned produce has a very similar nutritional value to that of fresh items, so long as the fruit or vegetable is canned when it is at it’s ripest. One thing to look out for when purchasing canned goods is the salt content. Check the label to see if there is a lot of sodium. If this is the case, look for a different version that does not have added salt.
Many people mistakenly think that frozen food has less nutritional value than fresh or canned. In reality, produce and other items are frozen when they are at their peak nutritional value. In some cases, they are even healthier than the fresh versions you can buy at the store. Because it takes time for a bundle of green beans or a bunch of asparagus to make it from where they are grown to your store and eventually your home, they may no longer be at their peak. According to Livestrong, when the foods are frozen near their origin, however, they are almost completely preserved because their level of moisture is intact, keeping them from spoiling and losing nutrients. The vegetables are blanched before they are frozen, which can remove some vitamin B and C, and storing the frozen items for a long time can cause the vitamin C levels to be reduced, but most veggies stay in nearly perfect condition. Fruits, however, are not usually cooked in any way before they are frozen. This makes their nutrient value the same as when they are fresh.
Produce items and other foods that are fresh, meaning they have just been picked or butchered, offer the most nutritional value. Veggies that have sat in the fridge for a few days will slowly lose moisture and nutrients, so it’s important to eat them right after they’ve been purchased or picked to get the most vitamins and antioxidants.