At CFYL we love frozen fruits, especially in the winter months when most of our favorites are out of season.
Frozen dinners may not have the best reputation, but frozen fruits shouldn’t be overlooked. Picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen almost immediately, not only are frozen fruits available year-round, allowing us to enjoy fresh, ripe berries in the middle of winter (what a treat), they are also equally, or even more nutritious than their fresh counterparts. This may come as a surprise to some, but the wide range of benefits from frozen fruits has been known for years. In 1998 the FDA researched the nutritional value of frozen fruits as compared to fresh and they found that overall frozen fruit maintained a similar nutrient profile as fresh and were even superior to their raw counterparts for some nutrients. If you’re still wary of the freezer aisle here are a few reasons frozen fruits should have their place on your table.
Fresh fruits that are shipped long distances are often picked before they reach their peak of ripeness. This is so they maintain their shape and don’t rot on the way to their final destination. Sadly for these fruits, though they will continue to ripen once picked, they do not continue to gain nutritional value. In fact, only fruits that are left on the vine or tree until they are completely ripe will reach their full nutrient capacity. Frozen fruits are often picked at the peak of their ripeness long after their fresh partners have been shipped. This means that even before they are frozen, they start off with more nutrients!
Of course we would all be better off if we could walk into our backyard and eat blueberries right off the bush, but for most of us, that just isn’t an option. Luckily, the people who do grow blueberries in their backyard can ship them to us! Fruit starts losing nutrients the second it’s been picked and continues to do so through the shipping process and while it awaits our choosy hands in the produce section. If refrigeration is not maintained or fruits are bruised during the shipping process they may even lose more nutrients. Frozen fruit, on the other hand, is frozen almost immediately after it’s been picked. The quick blanching process kills harmful microbes and enzymes that can cause the fruits to degrade, and though it does cause some nutrient loss, notably vitamin C which is water soluble, it leaves most nutrients in tow and they stay nutrient-rich through the shipping process and at the grocery store.
If you’re still not over the fact that frozen fruits share the same aisle as frozen pizzas here are a few more reasons to love them!
They help save money. Frozen fruits are often cheaper than fresh, but even if they’re selling at the same rate, they keep in the freezer for months meaning less food waste and therefore less money in the trash! Very awesome considering Americans throw away 33 million tons of food each year. Yikes.
Frozen fruits are convenient! They’ve been prewashed and can be eaten right out of the bag. Let them thaw just a bit and enjoy them for a healthy dessert. Add them to smoothies or oatmeal in the morning, or pour them right out of the bag into scone or pancake batter. The options are endless.
Frozen fruits are perfect for making delicious compote. If you’re on the neutropenic diet due to chemotherapy, you need not end your relationship with delicious fruit. Pop frozen fruits in the microwave or a saucepan and get important nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber from your microbe-free compote. Eat it on top of toast, stirred into oatmeal, our quinoa breakfast porridge, blended into one of our smoothies, or re-frozen in one of our granita recipes.
If you get the chance to eat blueberries right off the bush, take it! But if you can’t, pack a sweater for your next grocery store outing because you and the freezer aisle are about to get to know each other a little better. A balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables whether they are fresh or frozen will provide necessary nutrients to get you through treatment and can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle afterward!