Your guide to canned and frozen fruit and vegetables
Fresh fruit and vegetables are more difficult to get hold of than ever, meaning you might have to choose canned or frozen produce instead. Though they may not necessarily be your first choice, it’s important to remember that these products are beneficial, especially when you can’t get your hands on fresh. The process involved in canned and frozen produce destroys all harmful bacteria that can prevent spoilage, while still preserving the nutritional value of the product. Canned and frozen produce are also convenient and have a longer shelf life.
Are canned foods nutritious?
Fruits and vegetables used for canning are picked at peak freshness, ensuring the best flavour and preserving the nutrient quality. The process of canning leaves the amount of minerals, fat-soluble vitamins, protein, fat and carbohydrates relatively unchanged. However, canned products may have less water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and B vitamins, due to the heat of the canning process.
What to look for on the label:
- If you’re cutting back on sodium due to hypertension (high blood pressure) or other health problems, look for descriptions such as “no salt added” and “reduced sodium”.
- Rinsing canned vegetables before eating or using in cooking can reduce the sodium content.
- Use canned vegetables and fruits immediately after opening for maximum flavour and nutritional value.
- Fruit canned in juice contains less added sugar than fruits canned in syrup. Look for descriptions on the label like “packed in its own juices”, “packed in 100% juice”, “unsweetened” or “no added sugar”.
Are frozen foods nutritious?
Frozen foods retain vitamins and minerals with no changes to carbohydrate, protein or fat content. Frozen produce has more vitamins and minerals compared to fresh foods, as fresh produce loses vitamins and minerals over time while freezing preserves nutrients.
What to look out for:
- Rather choose plain frozen vegetables and season with your own herbs and spices than vegetables with rich, creamy sauces already added.
- Frozen fruits come in both sweetened and unsweetened varieties. Check the label to avoid extra sugar.
Tips for freezing food:
- Do not leave leftover food outside to cool. Rather let it reach room temperature and then freeze it.
- Don’t re-freeze thawed food – the food can become mushy and even cultivate bacteria, causing food poisoning.
- Do not defrost meat in hot water, as you run the risk of partially cooking it and changing the texture and flavour. Rather defrost in the fridge or at room temperature.
- Never use glass containers to freeze food in – rather use freezer-friendly plastic containers or freezer bags.