Canned vs. Frozen Produce
The shortened growing season in the Midwest provides seasonal and financial challenges for finding yearlong fresh produce. When produce is in season, it is very easy to buy fresh ingredients cheaper and preserve them to last longer, but when they aren’t in season, it might be worth your time to look into canned or frozen produce. The tricky part is knowing which packaging version is the least processed and healthiest when it comes to all the additives that could be hidden inside. For this Food Fight we will debate whether canned or frozen produce is the way to go.
For both canned and frozen fruits and vegetables it is crucial to look at the ingredient label to check for additives and to take into account the amount of processing.
The process of canning involves picking and washing the fresh fruits or vegetables, then peeling, trimming, blanching or chopping the produce and lastly, the treated crop is placed in a can with added water, seasonings, juice or syrup and sealed up for delivery. The whole canning routine varies on the type of produce, where some vegetables might go through further processing such as a heating treatment to remove air or a sterilization treatment when working with acidic juices like oranges and tomatoes.
Canned vegetables usually have a lot of added sodium to help preserve them, however there are healthy alternatives such as low-sodium and no-salt-added options. If you are reading this while you are gnawing on canned corn, it isn’t too late! Simply drain and rinse the canned veggies to help reduce the sodium even more!
When buying canned fruits make sure the fruit is soaked in water, its own juice, or light syrup. Light syrup should be your last choice because it will most likely have added sugar, but draining and rinsing the fruits can help decrease that.
The process of freezing produce begins with picking, washing and blanching the fresh harvests then freezing and packaging the food for shipment. Most vegetables require blanching as a crucial step to prevent enzyme growth. Produce that is frozen is closer to the way it was freshly grown, whereas canned goods require more processing.
Frozen fruits and vegetables can also have sugar and sodium added so it is important to evaluate the food label. In frozen vegetables there are sometimes sauces and seasonings added to them, which may add unnecessary calories and sodium. Frozen fruits are also useful because they can last months in the freezer, but just be cautious that there isn’t added sugar.
VERDICT: Canned and frozen produce are both cost-effective and convenient alternatives from fresh produce, however since frozen produce is less processed and closer to the way food is grown, the winner of this Food Fight is……… FROZEN PRODUCE!
Tip: If your fresh fruits or vegetables are about to go bad, think about preserving them to last longer! Check out WOTFV’s page to learn how.