You may think that it was Clarence Birdseye that originally came up with the idea to “flash-freeze” fruits and vegetables but you’d be wrong. He successfully commercialized the process but he got the idea from Inuit peoples in Alaska.
He observed that they preserved fish by freezing them quickly. This technique stops large ice crystals from forming. It’s those large crystals that ruin the texture and taste of frozen food. But what about the nutrients? Does freezing fruit and vegetables quickly help retain them?
Well, I have good news. In general, the differences in nutrient levels between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are minor.
A study by Dr. Bouzari and colleagues at the University of California, Davis, compared the vitamin content in eight different fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables – corn, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, strawberries and blueberries – and found no consistent differences overall between fresh and frozen.
As a matter of fact, the vitamin content was occasionally higher in some frozen foods; frozen broccoli, for example, had more riboflavin (a B vitamin) than fresh broccoli. And frozen corn, green beans and blueberries had more vitamin C than their fresh counterparts.
In another paper, they looked at fibre and levels of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron and found no big difference between the frozen and fresh forms of the same eight fruit and vegetables.
According to Statistics Canada, less than half of us are eating enough fruits and vegetables a day. Perhaps if we add some frozen to the mix we just might improve that number.