Wednesday Wonders: Fresh vs Frozen

October 7, 2009

Q: Is their a significant difference between fresh and frozen vegetables with regard to nutrition and vitamins and minerals? — Veggie Lover

A: Great question Veggie Lover! It’s actually a common one I get asked. Fresh and frozen vegetables are both excellent choices for you.

Fresh produce may have slightly more vitamins and minerals if eaten within hours of being picked; however, the longer vegetables and fruit sit after being picked, the more nutrients they lose. So what you buy at the supermarket may not have as many vitamins and minerals as you think if they’ve been shipped across the country and sitting on the shelves for a while.

Frozen produce is picked when ripe and flash frozen immediately in order to preserve the nutrients and flavor. Occasionally vegetables are blanched prior to freezing (this means they are dunked in boiling water for a minute and then immersed in ice water to stop the cooking process), which helps preserve the color, but leads to some minor nutrient loss.

Vegetables that are canned are also picked when ripe, but salt is added to them in order to preserve their nutrients and keep them shelf stable. While I don’t generally recommend canned vegetables, they are cheaper, so if you do buy them be sure to rinse them in water before using to wash off some of the sodium.

When it comes down to it, fresh is slightly more appealing from an appearance and texture standpoint — it will be brighter and crisper than frozen produce. But nutritionally they are both great (aside from those with added sauces and such).

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    1. Absolutely! You know how much I love fresh vegetables. In fact my CSA shipment just came today! I hope to have my own garden one day, it’s just not so easy in Manhattan!

  1. Love fresh and local, not always easy to do in Wisconsin. So we freeze lots of beans and tomatoes from our garden.

    I also use frozen spinach to make enchiladas, or add to meatloaf. I have done a side by side comparison of cooked fresh and thawed frozen spinach. The frozen spinach actually had brighter color. Not that it matters when the spinach is mixed into a dish and cooked. Frozen spinach is a lot less expensive than fresh.