Deciding on the Best Options for Fruits and Vegetables
The grocery store offers a myriad of options when it comes to fruits and vegetables - fresh, frozen, canned, dried - which can sometimes leave shoppers in a quandary. When should you go for fresh produce, and when is frozen a better choice? Below, we explore how to make the best choice between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.
The Fresh Contenders
There's nothing quite like the taste and texture of fresh fruits and vegetables. However, not all produce performs well after being frozen, making the fresh versions the go-to option.
Leafy Greens: While frozen spinach is a staple in many freezers, delicate greens like lettuce, arugula, or microgreens don't hold up well to freezing. Enjoy these fresh in salads, sandwiches, and garnishes.
Berries: If you plan on eating berries raw, fresh is the best choice for flavor and texture. However, for smoothies, sauces, or baking, frozen berries are just as nutritious and often more economical.
Herbs: Fresh herbs offer a punch of flavor that rarely survives the freezing process well. Use fresh herbs for garnishing and adding a finishing touch to your dishes.
Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes are great for salads, sandwiches, and any dish where you're appreciating the tomato in its raw state. Frozen tomatoes can become mushy and are best used in cooked dishes.
The Frozen Favorites
Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and frozen at peak ripeness, locking in nutrients. They also offer convenience, as they are typically pre-washed and cut. Here are some fruits and vegetables that are great to buy frozen:
Peas: Frozen peas are picked and flash-frozen at peak freshness, and often taste better than fresh peas which tend to become starchy soon after harvesting.
Corn: Unless it's peak corn season, frozen corn is a great alternative to enjoy this vegetable year-round.
Broccoli & Cauliflower: These veggies freeze well and are perfect to have on hand for stir-fries, soups, and casseroles.
Berries: Berries are expensive and spoil quickly when bought fresh. Unless you're enjoying them raw, opt for frozen for smoothies, baking, and cooking.
Mangoes and Pineapples: These tropical fruits are often picked underripe for shipping when sold fresh. Frozen versions are picked at peak ripeness and work well in smoothies, desserts, and salsas.
Spinach: While fresh spinach is great for salads, frozen spinach works well in cooked dishes and is often more economical.
The Best of Both Worlds
Some fruits and vegetables can be enjoyed both fresh and frozen, depending on their use. For instance, berries, spinach, and peas can be bought fresh for raw applications and frozen for cooking or blending.
Ultimately, the choice between fresh and frozen often comes down to the specific use, your budget, and the quality of the available produce. Both fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are healthy, nutrient-rich choices, and having a combination of both in your kitchen allows for variety, convenience, and flexibility in your meal preparation.