Frozen, packaged fruits and vegetables are available in the market as an option for those for whom peeling, cutting, preparing, or cooking such foods represents a time limitation. There is a myth that frozen fruits and vegetable products are not the most recommended to be included in the diet, since the tendency to consume organic products and in the most natural way that is within our reach is gaining more and more strength among those who are concerned about their health.
In this respect, the professor of the Food and Development Research Centre (CIAD), Fernando Ayala Zavala, an academic from the Coordination of Food Technology of Plant Origin, clears up some doubts for us.
Do frozen fruits and vegetables use chemicals for their conservation?
Some frozen fruits and vegetables may contain preservatives, although the tendency is not to use them or to use preservatives of natural origin. For example, some products that are sold cut and frozen tend to darken, so preservatives are added to maintain an attractive color.
Do these foods lose any nutritional value when frozen?
Yes, the loss of nutritional value occurs in frozen fruits and vegetables, but more slowly than products that are refrigerated or stored at room temperature; it is the benefit of freezing that reduces the deterioration of the food, but does not eliminate it.
Does freezing cause loss of texture and taste?
Yes, the texture of frozen fruit or vegetable is lost through freezing; we notice this in products when they are thawed. In addition, the sensation of flavors can be diminished; firstly because cold temperatures do not allow flavor and aroma compounds to be detected as noticeably as in a fresh product, and secondly because during thawing these compounds are lost.
If the fruit or vegetable is thawed, is it safe to refreeze it?
It is not safe to refreeze products once they are thawed, because thawing usually not only causes changes in texture and taste but also because when the temperature increases, microorganisms can grow and reproduce rapidly, which could then cause gastrointestinal diseases. The recommendation is to freeze portions to be used for consumption in a single preparation; they can be small portions and defrost by going from the freezer to the refrigerator, since defrosting at room temperature is not recommended, since there is a greater risk of microorganism development.
If the food becomes contaminated when cut, will it still be contaminated after freezing?
Yes, contamination can normally remain in the food after it has been frozen and pose a risk once it has been thawed. Speaking of contamination with bacteria, these, although they do not normally reproduce in freezing temperatures, can still be present, as can some compounds they produce, called toxins. It is advisable to have good hygiene during the preparation of food that is going to be frozen and to avoid contaminating it.