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Frozen vegetables and fruits

Not everyone knows that frozen foods are an excellent source of vitamins during the autumn-winter season. Frozen fruits and vegetables can retain up to 80% of the freshness of their fresh counterparts. Vitamin C and trace elements are particularly well-preserved. Throughout the year, they are abundantly available in stores, but those from natural summer crops contain fewer chemical additives. Therefore, it's worth considering their homemade preparation, especially if you have your own garden. Frozen fruit and vegetable products should play a special role in your family's diet.

Freezing allows for a higher preservation of nutritional value, closer to fresh produce, compared to methods like sugaring, salting, or pickling, all without introducing additional preservatives (salt, vinegar, and other preservatives). There is practically no observed change in the protein structure during storage in a frozen state. The low temperature inhibits the processes of fat rancidity that occur at temperatures higher than -18°C. Losses of mineral components are minimal and are not directly related to the freezing process but rather to pre-treatment, such as blanching fruits and vegetables (brief boiling to neutralize enzymes that may degrade nutrients and cause unfavorable changes in color or bacterial growth). Freezing is the storage method that most effectively prevents vitamin loss in food. For example, losses of vitamin C are relatively small, around 20% (for comparison, syrups result in an average loss of 75%, and compotes and jams above 35%). Frozen fruits lose only 5-10% of vitamin A, and frozen vegetables lose 20-30%. Losses of vitamins B1 and PP are also significantly smaller compared to other food storage methods. A significant advantage of frozen foods is that cooking them results in fewer vitamin losses compared to cooking fresh fruits and vegetables.

First and foremost, choose only ripe and healthy products. Wash and chop the vegetables thoroughly. Most vegetables need blanching before freezing, i.e., dipping them for 1-2 minutes in boiling water and then quickly cooling them in cold water. Blanching helps vegetables retain their beautiful color, taste, and aroma. Vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and onions can be frozen without blanching. Dry the prepared vegetables from excess water and put them into airtight bags designed for freezing. It is most convenient to freeze them in small portions, facilitating uniform freezing and thawing. Make sure to label each package with the freezing date.

Freeze small fruits in loose form, scattered on a tray. After the fruits solidify, transfer them to bags or other containers. This way, the fruits will maintain their shape and not stick together. Remember that containers and bags must be airtight and made of food-grade materials.

When freezing fruits and vegetables, it is essential to do it in stages. Freeze small portions as quickly as possible and at the lowest temperature. Freezing is also a good way to store herbs, and there are various methods to do so. One effective method is placing chopped herbs in ice cube trays, filling them with a bit of water. These herbal cubes are perfect for soups and sauces.

In frozen food production technology, the speed of freezing is crucial. The faster the freezing, the higher the quality of the frozen products. Slow freezing leads to the formation of large ice crystals, tearing the cell membranes of fruit or vegetable skins, causing excessive juice leakage during thawing.

In line with packaging requirements, frozen products should be resistant and unbreakable at low temperatures. They should also not stick to the product, something to pay attention to when making a purchase. It is crucial to buy only well-frozen products.

Despite all the advantages of frozen foods, it is essential to adhere to storage and thawing rules. On the way from the store to home, the product should not be allowed to thaw if you want to continue storing it. Thawed products cannot be refrozen! The storage of frozen foods should occur at a temperature not higher than the freezing temperature (indicated on product packaging). This is to maximize the inhibition of microorganism development and any biochemical or chemical changes.

Thaw only immediately before consumption and as quickly as possible, avoiding the loss of juice and vitamins and preventing the accumulation of microorganisms. Therefore, fruits and vegetables are often immediately cooked (in their frozen state), and fish and meat are either cooked or fried. If frozen products are not intended for cooking, it is better to thaw them in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature. This reduces the loss of vitamin C and slows down the development of bacteria and mold. Soft fruits (e.g., strawberries) intended for raw consumption should be rinsed with cool water and sprinkled with sugar to isolate them from the air.

The most expensive frozen foods in the world are usually luxury products offered in exclusive places, such as high-end restaurants or stores specializing in gourmet food. Their high price often results from rare or prestigious ingredients, a complex production process, and a brand that ensures the product's unique status. Examples of such luxury frozen foods include white truffles, Belon oysters, Maine lobster, Ossetra caviar, and molecular gastronomy dishes. Many of these products are valued by connoisseurs for their exceptional quality and prestigious nature. Some of the renowned luxury frozen food products include white truffles, Belon oysters, Maine lobster, Ossetra caviar, and dishes from molecular gastronomy. The high price of these products is often justified by the rarity or prestige of the ingredients, the complex production process, and the brand's reputation for providing a unique and exclusive culinary experience.

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