In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how to preserve vegetables in the freezer”, and discuss the methods to preserve both raw and cooked vegetables in the freezer. We are also going to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of preserving vegetables in the freezer
How to preserve vegetables in the freezer
Both raw and cooked vegetables can be preserved by freezing at -18 °C in airtight containers or ziplock bags.
Freezing is one of the most efficient ways to preserve vegetables for long term storage.
Freezing preserves the flavor as well as the nutrient content of vegetables.
Freezing preserves vegetables by slowing down the growth of microorganisms that cause spoilage.
It is recommended to consume frozen vegetables within 8-12 months for the best flavor and texture.
How to preserve raw vegetables in the freezer
Vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers and onions can be frozen raw without blanching.
It is recommended to freeze cut-up vegetables separately in a tray and then transfer the frozen pieces into a ziplock bag. This allows the cut-up vegetables to freeze separately rather than in one big lump.
How to preserve cooked vegetables in the freezer
Certain vegetables must never be frozen raw. examples include starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams. These vegetables must be either boiled, baked or blanched before freezing.
Always allow the cooked vegetables to cool down to room temperature before freezing.
Always allow the cooked vegetables to cool down to room temperature before freezing. Cooked vegetables usually cool down in about 30 minutes. After the vegetables have cooled down, freeze them as soon as possible.
The cooked vegetables must be stored in airtight containers or ziplock bags, labeled and then frozen.
Dehydrated or canned vegetables can also be further preserved by freezing.
How to store vegetables in the freezer
It is crucial to follow proper storage procedures when freezing vegetables. The following methods will ensure that the frozen vegetables stay fresh for longer.
- Vegetables must be stored in airtight containers or freezer-safe ziploc bags that minimize exposure to air during freezing. The containers or bags must always be labeled with the preparation date.
- Wherever possible blanch the vegetables before freezing. Blanching deactivates the enzymes that cause a loss in flavor, color and nutrient content.
- If blanching is not possible, the vegetables can be treated with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C rich solution such as lemon juice) which would also reduce enzyme activity and discolouration.
- Maintain the freezer temperature at -18 °C or slightly below. Fluctuations in temperature will cause the food to spoil faster. If there are regular power outages or if the freezer doors are constantly being opened, the vegetables are at risk of being spoiled.
- Always store vegetables and fruits separated from fish and meat products to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.
- Store vegetables in vacuum packaging if possible. Vacuum packaging will create an oxygen-free environment that reduces the formation of ice crystals in the vegetables.
How to use frozen vegetables
Frozen vegetables can be substituted for fresh vegetables in most recipes.
However, it is not advisable to use frozen vegetables in dishes where the texture is important such as salads.
Frozen vegetables can either be defrosted by placing them in cold water or thawed by keeping them in a refrigerator. Defrosted and thawed vegetables must not be refrozen. Vegetables thawed in the refrigerator can be left in the refrigerator for a couple of days before they are used whereas vegetables deforested in water must be used immediately.
Advantages of preserving vegetables in the freezer
- Freezing is a quick and efficient way to preserve vegetables and can be done by anyone at home.
- Frozen vegetables have a comparatively long shelf life.
- Freezing preserves more nutrients compared to other methods of food preservation such as dehydrating and canning.
- Freezing helps to reduce the wastage of vegetables by preserving the excess.
Disadvantages of preserving vegetables in the freezer
- Frozen vegetables will not retain the same texture as fresh vegetables. Most frozen vegetables tend to become soft and mushy after they are thawed. This is caused by water expanding as it freezes and forming ice crystals which rupture the cell walls.
- Certain vitamins such as vitamin B and C and antioxidants are lost during the freezing process.
- The flavor of frozen vegetables will deteriorate with time.
- The freezer temperature must be maintained without fluctuations and this consumes electricity. The vegetables may spoil if there are unavoidable power outages.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “how to preserve vegetables in the freezer”, and discussed the methods to preserve both raw and cooked vegetables in the freezer. We also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of preserving vegetables in the freezer.
If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.