In supermarkets, the variety of frozen foods has increased dramatically since frozen food was introduced in the 1930s from frozen vegetables and herbs to frozen meals to gourmet ice cream. Food Today explores everything about freezing can help preserve food and provide convenience and variety in this article. Ice and snow have been used to preserve foods since prehistoric times when people preserved their hunts by using cold. During the 1930s, when Sir Francis Bacon tried to freeze chicken carcasses with snow, he contracted fatal pneumonia. The invention of quick freezing did not lead to the commercialization of frozen foods.
Is freezing safe and how does it preserve food?
In addition to slowing down enzyme activity that causes food to spoil, freezing delays spoilage and keeps food safe by preventing microorganisms from growing and everything about freezing. Microorganisms cannot grow in food that has frozen into ice crystals, making it unavailable. Despite this, most microorganisms remain alive when frozen (except parasites), so foods must be handled both before and after freezing.
Food nutrient content is affected by freezing.
Foods do not lose much of their nutrient content when they are frozen. To inactivate enzymes and yeasts that could continue to cause food spoilage even in the freezer, some fruits and vegetables are blanched (immersed in boiling water for a short period) before freezing. A loss of vitamin C (15 to 20%) can occur during this process.
Though these losses occur, frozen vegetables and fruits are often higher in nutrients than “fresh” counterparts even though they are frozen shortly after harvest. It can sometimes take a long time to sort, transport, and distribute harvested produce to stores. When soft fruits and green vegetables are kept at room temperature, they can lose up to 15% of their vitamin C content each day. Vitamins and minerals can be lost during this time.
Is it safe to freeze any foods?
Foods can be damaged by freezing because the formation of ice crystals can cause cell membranes to break. There are no adverse effects on food safety, but the crispness or firmness is lost. Salad vegetables, mushrooms, and soft fruits are examples of foods that are not well tolerated when frozen. Cream and some sauces, which have a high-fat content, tend to separate when frozen. It is easier for foods to freeze if they are frozen fast enough, which leads to smaller ice crystals, causing less damage to cell membranes, resulting in better quality foods.
What is the shelf life of frozen food?
There is no loss of quality when foods are stored in the freezer for three to twelve months. The time that foods keep depends on their ingredients, and the label on the food provides the best indication of how long to keep it.
Tips for freezing
- Keep your freezer below -18°C
- The best way to ensure the efficiency of a deep freezer is to pack it tightly, unlike refrigerators
- Food will be protected and will not suffer from “freezer burn” if it is packaged properly, such as in freezer bags and plastic containers
- The temperature of the freezer will rise if hot foods are immediately placed in the freezer. Cooling foods before freezing may prevent adverse effects on other foods
- Thawed frozen foods should never be refrozen if they have already been thawed