I felt a little sad this weekend as I emptied my freezer of the last bag of this summer’s courgettes. I was getting sick of the sight of them in August but on this cold, wet and windy weekend I was nostalgic for our excitement as the seedlings popped through the soil. I wanted to rewind the the day we walked over and saw the wonderful rows of yellow flowers and beautiful globes of crop peeking out of the green foliage.
Fresh vs frozen
It did make me wonder about the value of frozen vs fresh foods though. I do tend to buy fresh fruit and veg every week – especially in these winter months as we were not organised enough to sow winter crop. But I do hate waste so if something has gone too soft or past it’s best to eat there and then, I cook it into something or chop it up and freeze it.
I did some reading into this question and it seems that you do lose some flavour when food is frozen but freezing is, as I thought, a very good way to preserve the nutritional value. Key points worth noting are:
- The initial quality of the food and the length of time between when you harvested it and froze it are important factors. So as long as the food was grown in a high-quality way (for example, like my organically grown courgettes) and was quite fresh at the time of freezing, many of the vitamins and minerals will keep fairly well.
- Blanching the vegetables before freezing leads to a 25%-ish loss in Vitamin C. Thawing also means you’ll lose some of the nutritional value so it’s best to cook directly from frozen.
- The length of time you keep the veg frozen for. General guidance seems to be to use up within six months of freezing as long as you know the crop is fresh. So for example, freezing supermarket produce means that you might want to use it up within five months as it’s likely to have gone through transportation, storage and sitting on the shelf for a few weeks. My courgettes were in the freezer within a week of picking so I’ve got a bit more time.
A great resource for guidance is this US site – The National Center for Food Preservation though I would not freeze using aluminium foil as it sometimes suggests. My preference is freezer bags.
Thai Style Mussels with Frozen Courgettes
I always have blocks of frozen spinach in the freezer as they are handy to throw into soups and curries for a little extra nutrition. Since the summer I have also had 5 bags of courgettes in the freezer with contents in various forms. I had a bag of grated courgette which I emptied from frozen into this super quick thai curry which also used some frozen mussels.
Courgette Soup with Feta
We have also had courgette soup this week because it’s easy to cook when we get home from work and school and comforting to eat next to the fire and in front of the TV.
So now I’m flicking through the seed catalogues enthused and excited about planting more in the coming months. I will definitely plant the yellow globe variety again. Was so pretty and fruitful. I won’t however plant the whole seed packet this time!