Photo By: Ashley Winkler
Freezing is one of the most common and well known techniques for food preservation. Freezing is accomplished by storing food at 0 F.
Fresh foods are highly susceptible to spoilage because of their high water content. This water can be a breeding ground for a number of microorganisms. Exposure to oxygen, temperature, ph, naturally occurring enzymes, and time also have a huge effect on the life and quality of food. These factors can either facilitate or impede the deterioration. Over our existence as humans we have found ways to extend the life of our food by manipulating these factors and ultimately changing our relationship with food at its foundation. Food preservation has shaped food culture and created the framework for the food industry. Throughout several articles we will go over some food preservation methods, why they work, and how you can utilize them at home.
How it works
Freezing food literally slows down biological and chemical processes occurring within food. It inhibits or slows the growth of unwanted microorganisms. As the water begins to freeze in food it becomes unavailable to the microorganisms that would otherwise use it to flourish. However, many microbes can survive the freezing process that is why it is so important to store, thaw, and cook food within the recommended guidelines. Freezing also slows the enzymatic reactions inside food that cause ripening and spoilage.
Generally speaking its always best to eat food fresh with as little processing as possible to get the best nutritional value. The nutritional value of your food receives little damage upon freezing. The exception to this being food that is blanched before freezing to help inactivate enzymes that would cause spoilage. In this case vitamins like vitamin C can see a loss of 15%-20%.
Foods that do not freeze well
There are some foods that do not fare well in the freezer due to the effect it has on the structure and texture. Foods like berries, mushrooms, and salad greens can become wilted and mushy after the thawing process. The formation of large ice crystals can break the cell membranes causing a disruption to the food's overall structure. This does not affect the quality of the food in terms of safety but it may make the food less appealing and appetizing.
The shorter the time food spends in the freezer the closer it will be to the quality it was before it entered cold storage so it is always best to consume frozen food earlier than later. Here are the storage times for food. Remember, freezing only slows down the ripening and spoilage process; it doesn't stop it.
Approximate months of storage at 0°F
Fruits and Vegetables
8 - 12
6 - 9
3 - 6
3 - 4
Cured or Processed Meat
1 - 2
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We are two food scientists that are all about changing the way we look at our food. We will be diving into all of the research, tips, and tricks on how we can all live a sustainable lifestyle. Join us as we find the most creative and green solutions to saving our food, our bodies, and the environment.