By Clint Thompson
Not all freshly picked fruits and vegetables are meant to be eaten right away. Freezing them will extend their shelf life.
If fresh produce is properly frozen, much of the flavor that consumers savor and nutritional value that is constantly promoted will be retained.
Elizabeth Andress, a faculty member in the University of Georgia College of Family Consumer Sciences, wrote in a news story that extreme cold temperatures stop the growth of microorganisms. It also slows changes that lead to spoilage. But it will not sterilize the food.
“It’s important to use good sanitary practices when preparing and packaging food for the freezer,” said Andress, director of the National Center for Home Food Preservation. “When thawing the food, it’s important to use good temperature control to prevent the surviving bacteria and molds from becoming a problem on warming food. Fortunately, most vegetables can be cooked right from the frozen state. If you need to thaw foods before using them, inside the cold refrigerator is the safest way to do so.”
For additional tips on thawing and using frozen foods, visit nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/thawing.html.
Package the Food for Best Protection in the Freezer
Before placing food directly in the freezer, there is an important step to consider. Plastic bags are the most frequently used packaging material for freezing food items. Although plastic freezer containers or glass canning/freezing jars will work as well.
No matter what you use, the packaging materials must be durable, leakproof and easy to seal with airtight sealing surfaces.
“Don’t use paper cartons, like milk boxes,” Andress said. “Many plastic containers foods are packaged in for purchase, like yogurt, dips and sour cream. They do not provide characteristics for preserving quality in the freezer. Some materials may let air and moisture through them which is not good. Freezer-weight plastic bags, freezer foil and coated freezer paper are good for odd shaped foods.”
To read the full story, see news story.