Can veggies be frozen?
In this brief article, we are going to answer this question “Can veggies be frozen?”. We will also talk about how to freeze veggies and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of freezing them.
Can veggies be frozen?
Yes, veggies can be frozen. Winter greens such as spinach and kale are excellent vegetables that may be frozen for later use. Corn and peas are other good options for freezing. Herbs, onions, peppers, and celery are all good candidates for freezing (1).
Frozen vegetables may be used in prepared foods like spaghetti, soups, and casseroles, despite the fact that they can’t be used in salads or be roasted.
Celery, watercress, endive, lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, and radishes are the only vegetables that cannot be frozen. When defrosted, these items become mushy and waterlogged due to their high water content.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of freezing veggies?
Benefits of freezing veggies
- Freezing slows down enzyme activity and lowers nutrient loss, it helps to maintain their nutritional value, such as vitamins and minerals (2,3).
- Freezing veggies also increases their shelf life, enabling longer storage and reducing food waste.
- Furthermore, since frozen veggies are easily accessible and require no preparation, freezing can increase convenience, saving some time for you.
Drawbacks of freezing veggies
- Veggies that are frozen sometimes may develop softer or mushier textures when thawed (4).
- Due to their high water content, some crops, like lettuce and cucumbers, do not freeze well, due to the formation of ice crystals which expand and cause damage to the cell wall of them (4).
- Veggies kept in the freezer can also have freezer burn and lost quality. In order to avoid that, adequate packaging is also necessary while freezing.
- Finally, although freezing is a useful method of preservation, it may not perfectly replicate the flavor and texture of fresh vegetables.
How to freeze fresh vegetables?
Before freezing the veggies, blanch them in hot water. The ripening procedure is slowed by blanching, which inhibits the enzymes responsible for the process. In addition, it helps in the removal of dirt and germs, keeps nutrients intact, and enhances the appearance (1,5,6).
Immediately after blanching, place blanched veggies in a dish of cold water to cool them down (1,7).
Pat it to dry after draining the water. If you don’t have a steaming basket, you may now chop it to the required length.
Get a jar or baking sheet that you can put in the freezer next. Freeze the veggies in a thin layer until they are firm (1,7).
Using a vacuum sealer or ziplocs, store them after they’ve been frozen.
When you thaw frozen veggies, “off” flavors will develop as a result of exposure to air.
How long does vegetables last in the freezer?
If stored at a steady temperature, vegetables can be preserved in a refrigerator for up to eight to twelve months. They may typically outlive their expiration dates if they are properly stored.
However, their quality is likely to have decreased, so they may no longer be as tasty or healthy as they once were (1,6).
You can typically tell if frozen vegetables are still preserved by looking at them. Ice particles that have been slathered on, vegetables that have lost their color, and shrunken vegetables are all signs that something is wrong.
Can we freeze cooked vegetables?
Yes, we can freeze cooked vegetables at home. Cooked veggies may be stored in the freezer and reheated at a moment’s notice, allowing you to save time and resources by preparing meals ahead of time (6).
Freezing cooked vegetables doesn’t need any specialized equipment or ingredients. If you have some ziploc bags or air – tight containers, you’re all ready to freeze cooked vegetables (1,6).
It’s a terrific idea to freeze your cooked veggies, and the techniques for reheating them are really simple. If you’re freezing cooked veggies, the chopping and slicing is done for you, so you don’t have to worry about it.
How to safely defrost frozen veggies?
To safely defrost frozen vegetables, there are three recommended methods that you can follow.
Refrigerator: to follow this method, transfer the frozen veggies to the refrigerator and allow them to thaw slowly over several hours or overnight.
Cold water: you can place the sealed veggies in a bowl of cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until thawed.
Microwave: if you are in a hurry, you can also use a microwave on the defrost setting, ensuring to stir and check frequently to prevent uneven cooking.
How to reheat frozen veggies?
After thawing frozen veggies in the refrigerator, it is recommended to reheat the frozen vegetables or to use them in cooked dishes, because it is not safe to defrost frozen vegetables and eat them directly (9).
You can reheat frozen veggies in the microwave by placing them with just a little of water, covering the dish with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe lid, and heating on high for brief periods while stirring occasionally to ensure equal heating (10).
You can also use the oven, putting veggies on a tray and an oven set no lower than 325 °F (10).
Never reheat food in temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F too long, because bacteria can grow faster at these temperatures (10).
Can veggies spoil in the freezer?
Generally, no. The freezing method can help to keep veggies from spoiling. However, they may lose quality and taste, but at a much slower rate than fresh vegetables, because freezing does not stop enzymatic activity, only slows it down (4).
Factors like temperature fluctuations, prolonged storage, and improper packaging can also affect the quality of frozen veggies. That ‘s why it is important to follow recommended storage times and ensure proper packaging to maintain the best quality and minimize the risk of spoilage (4).
In this brief article, we answered this question “Can veggies be frozen?”. We also talked about how to freeze veggies and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of freezing them.
1. Silva, C.L.M. Home Freezing of Fruits and Vegetables. In book: Frozen food science and technology, 2008.
2. Moon, K.M, et al. Recent Trends in Controlling the Enzymatic Browning of Fruit and Vegetable Products. Molecules. 2020;25(12):2754.
3. Li, L. et al. Selected nutrient analyses of fresh, fresh-stored, and frozen fruits and vegetables. J Food Composition and Analysis, 2017, 59, 8-17.
4. Van Der Sman, R.G.M. Impact of Processing Factors on Quality of Frozen Vegetables and Fruits. Food Engineering Reviews, 2020, 12, 399–420.
5. Fufa, D.D. Novel Approach to Enhance the Shelf Life of Fresh Cut Fruits and Vegetables: a Review. J Food Process Technol. 2021, 12: 891.
6. Freezing and Food Safety. USDA, 2013
7. Tiwari, K. Blanching of Fruits and Vegetables to Neutralize the Effect of the Pesticide and Insecticide. Agric and Food, 2021.
8. Schmidt, S.J., Lee, J.W. How Does the Freezer Burn Our Food?. J Food Science Education, 2009, 8.
9. Zoellner C, Wiedmann M, Ivanek R. An Assessment of Listeriosis Risk Associated with a Contaminated Production Lot of Frozen Vegetables Consumed under Alternative Consumer Handling Scenarios. J Food Prot. 2019, 82(12):2174-2193.
10. What methods of reheating food are safe? USDA, 2023.