On fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables.

Thai Fruits

People think that fresh fruits and vegetables are superior (nutritionally and from a taste perspective) to those that are frozen or canned. Yet, fresh has to be defines to be meaningful. A fruit or vegetables picked unripe thousands of kilometres away and ripeness in warehouses could and should never be considered fresh.

Fresh means picked a few hours before consumption, with the possible exception of pears that ripen after picking.

It is worth pointing out that vegetables and fruits start losing vitamins, over a few days the loss amounts to anywhere between 10 to 50 per cent.

In North America fresh has come to mean, “not frozen “ or canned.

In Canada, most fruits and vegetables in winter and partially in the fall, are imported mostly from California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and other states, then from Chile, Argentina, South Africa, occasionally Italy, and sometimes New Zealand.

The same is true in northern European countries, which import much of their fresh fruits and vegetables from Sicily, Spain, Greece, and other southern European countries.

When you buy, what is considered to be fresh, think again.

I know the difference between that is field grown, and salads that my wife grows in our garden. She picks the vegetables at their peak ripeness and a few hours before cooking.

The difference between store-bought salads and truly fresh is simply amazing.

Frozen vegetables are now being used more and more. They are picked close to or at full ripeness and processed within a few hours, hence they retain their nutritional value more than “fresh” vegetables and fruits picked unripe and transported thousands of kilometres

(possibly under unfavourable conditions and temperatures).

However, texturally frozen vegetables and fruits lack typical characteristics because some fibres are damaged during freezing. Some fruits and vegetables don’t freeze well whole at all and must be cut and sweetened (i.e raspberries, strawberries). Apples and pears under controlled atmosphere conditions, most root vegetables keep well for some time, others are dried picked fully ripe and dried i.e apricots, grapes, dates, figs). Frozen vegetables and fruits have their place in culinary applications if and when they are judiciously chosen and cooked.

Canned vegetables are popular with millions of people, but they must be processed, during which nutritional value, as well as texture is sacrificed.

Between the two preservation methods (freezing and canning) I prefer frozen. Canned vegetables or fruits keep well in storage, while those frozen need appropriate facilities.

Fresh, if it is local and properly transported, is the most preferable providing the “terroir” on which they grew was the right one.

Fresh Ontario asparagus tastes far better than Peruvian or Mexican fresh asparagus, the same is true for garlic versus those imported from China, and strawberries versus those imported from California.

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