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Why the disdain for frozen??

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I have noticed while perusing through many threads here that there is an apparent disdain for frozen foods. I wonder why that is? A lot of what I have heard and read from various sources indicates that in many cases frozen produce in particular is probably of higher quality than the fresh produce offered at the supermarkets.

What are your thoughts on this?
post #2 of 18
Depends on the item.

Lots of items just don't freeze well. Anything leafy. Lots of high water content fruits break down totally like watermelon. You'll never see these in the freezer case

Frozen carrots don't have carrot texture and taste flat. Green beans lose some texture but they tend to taste OK. You have no choice on the texture range with frozen spinach, it will be mush.

Most fruits suffer texture problems when frozen. They taste fine, but all go mushy and weep their natural juices when thawed. There are times this is useful.

Peas, take freezing well. So does corn, lots of meats do pretty well.

Lots of frozen food is processed and full of additives, junky sauces and flavor enhancers. I looked at a blend of "stir fry vegetables" in the freezer case the other day and it was sad. Things improperly cut for the purpose, uneven cuts, visible deterioriation in the carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, Just a bad mix and you don't get the choice of the mix if you rely on these products.

Phil
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 18
I agree with what Phil said. If quality is at stake, fresh fruit and veggies are no competition for frozen. In an ideal world, we'd all have superior local provisions at hand.

Personally, if I can't get a crucial ingredient fresh- that needs to be fresh- I'll change my plan and tweak the recipe. That, or I'll just make something else.
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post #4 of 18
But then sometimes it's easier to use frozen peas than to shell them yourself. :) I think corn freezes well, so does peas, not so much sugar snap peas. Cut spinach does quite well too if you are going to make a namul or if you're cooking it.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
I guess the next question then is, how do you define fresh fruits or veggies? Are fresh fruits and veggies the ones grown in California, Florida, Mexico, Brazil etc and then picked early/green and shipped for however many days before arriving at a local market. Or are fresh fruits and veggies the ones grown locally, picked at the peak of ripeness and marketed that day?

I do also agree with what Phil said, however we are currently eating some IQF strawberries for our dessert and I have to say they taste better than the fresh ones I have eaten recently. I will grant that the IQF berries are soft/mushy compared to the fresh berries but the taste and aroma is much better.

I stay away from the prepared frozen meals for the very reason Phil mentioned.

Purchasing frozen fruits and veggies allows me access to a much broader selection of produce than I would have otherwise over a longer period of time.
post #6 of 18
as soon as peas and corn are picked the sugars start changing in to starch, so for freshness on a long term basis its often better to have frozen as they are flash frozen at harvesting,
frozen berries are a great standby especially for cooking with
frozen stock is also a good standby but of course fresh is always best
I always keep spare blocks of butter in the freezer as an emergency thing, its got so expensive to buy here (which really sucks as we make some of the best butter in the world and are such a big dairy country) that when its on special i will buy extra
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires

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when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires

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post #7 of 18
I think you just need to try something simple like buying frozen string beans and fresh string beans (fresh means they snap when you try to bend them) and boil them and see which tastes best. It's no contest.

Try same with spinach. I used to buy chopped spinach for cooking (like mixing with ricotta in certain dishes, etc) but when i tried it with fresh, i just couldn't go back, even in a dish with other ingredients.

When i moved to italy, there were few frozen vegetables available, and no fresh ones that weren;t in season. I learned to go with the available produce and luckily there's a long growing season here. With the EU we've lost a lot of that, since we're getting (get this) belgian tomatoes at the markets now. BELGIAN tomatoes, i say. In Italy. pretty disturbing.
We also have imported stuff all year. But the fresh in-season greens are always the best. I do make an exception for peas. They taste different frozen and i do prefer them - probably because the sugar has converted to starch by the time i get them at the market.
Would love to have a pea plant, though, and see what real peas taste like.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #8 of 18
jdb -

I'm not so sure about my own "disdain" for "frozen" - I would say "I prefer fresh."

pointed out in priors are a number of things where "frozen" makes sense and does no apparent harm. I've got frozen: berries, phyllo, peas, corn, whatnot on hand.

the "seasonality" issue is another _huge_ factor when thinking fresh or frozen. when I go to the market in January and see "fresh picked sweet corn" I have to ask myself: fresh according to who? my taste buds or NoNameAirFreight.Ink?

I make a batch of spaetzle and freeze half - it does "freeze" well, if it didn't, I'd make smaller batches.

I don't freeze bread, ugh. I make a small number (small = starting with the numeral one) of loaves and if something sits around and goes stale either it becomes bread crumbs or the squirrels get a treat.

when the market has a buyonegetonefree on roast - I freeze the second. I don't like to freeze meat - I think freezing destroys a lot of texture - but that's just my personal opinion. I am not so anti-frozen as to turn down a $9-12 "free roast."

I have an exception: pork tenderloin seems to freeze well and I find it much easier to knife slice thin cuts of a semi-thawed loin for schnitzel pounding than when the loin is fresh. but if I want pork medallions, tain't no freezing in their past . . .

if I buy the big family size ground beef and freeze it in usable portions - using heavy duty aluminum foil = 0 mvtr, when I thaw it, where did all that water come from and why is this (cooked) beef patty so dry? I think the two are related.....

so I shop 4-5 days / week and do things from fresh. the market is less than 2 miles - and I have the time available to do that. those advantages are not universal - so I understand folks who have no reasonable choice but to "stock up and freeze"
post #9 of 18
I think frozen seafood is a good thing. I prefer fresh, but only if it's very fresh.
post #10 of 18
If I lived where you live, OregonYeti, I'd usually have a choice about fresh vs. frozen. Where I live, on the western shore of Lake Michigan, it's next to impossible to get unfrozen, fresh ocean fish and shellfish. We have to make do with "fresh frozen". Therefore, when we travel near the sea, I try to eat as much ocean fish and shellfish as I can!
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post #11 of 18
I have a rather narrow definition of fresh with regards to produce: picked within 24-hours, grown locally and in season. However, the area in which I live lends itself to that definition. FWIW, with very few exceptions I don't by imported produce, or produce not grown within a few hunderd miles of Berkeley, CA. The exceptions are some tropical fruits, such as some papayas, some mangos, some pineapple, etc.

I will sometimes buy frozen peas, frozen corn, frozen spinach, frozen berries, and frozen potatoes for use in certain dishes at certain times of the year.

shel
post #12 of 18
I like frozen corn. I'll dump some kernels into a dish to let them thaw a bit first, yeah, that's the ticket. About half of them get eaten like candy while still cold and crunchy before any heat is applied.

And this has nothing to do with frozen food, but Dillbert mentioned a couple of things that brought back a great memory. One of the better meals I've ever eaten in a restaurant was a lunch I had in Hamburg, Germany. A simple plate of pork schnitzel and spaetzle. It was SO good. I've tried a few times to make spaetzle at home, gave up in disgust, it wasn't even close to what I had that day for lunch. Sigh.


mjb.
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post #13 of 18
>make do with "fresh frozen". <

I would take exception to the phrase "make do", Mezz.

FAS fish actually is fresher than any you can get at a fishmonger. Often it's actually fresher than if you met the boat at the pier and bought it right there.

In a typical scenario: A fishing boat goes out. It stays out until reaching it's capacity. Sometimes this takes a day. And sometimes it takes three of four days. Let's say 2 days on average. And we'll follow the first fish that comes aboard.

That fish is iced in holding bins, sometimes gutted & gilled, sometimes not. Two days later the boat makes shore, and the catch is sold to a proccessor, who may or may not process it further. Next day it is sold to a wholesaler, who delivers it to either a central market (i.e., Fulton Fish Market, in NY), or makes rounds of his customers who can range from chefs to fishmongers. Let's presume it goes directly to a fishmonger.

So, we have two days aboard ship. A third day with the wholesaler. And for sale at the fishmonger on the fourth day.

Now let's assume you buy the fish that morning, take it home, and serve it for dinner. Four days have elapsed since it was caught. Four days, minimum, in which that "fresh" fish has been sitting around on ice.

Now, let's compare that to FAS fish. The fish is caught. It is immediately processed, packaged, and flash frozen using liquid nitrogen. Elapsed time: a couple of hours at most.

So, rather than making do, you are actually getting a fresher product when you buy frozen.

All of which merely demonstrates that the whole concept of "fresh" is nonsense when used to describe seafood. And much of the blame goes to all those celebrity chefs who teach people how to determine if the fish is fresh---firm of flesh, bright of eye, no odor. That doesn't describe "fresh" fish. It describes quality fish. And if the quality is there, why should anyone care how long it's been sitting around?
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 18
I agree with you 100%. In fact the cruise ship industry only uses frozen fish, frozen at least 72 hours I believe this to be FDA mandate, the logic being that any bacteria in the fish between the freezing and then the cooking will be eliminated. I have cleaned many species of fish loaded with worms sword, cod, cobia, snapper etc. When I talk freezing, I am talking flash frozen not home frozen which is totaly different
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post #15 of 18
.........All of which merely demonstrates that the whole concept of "fresh" is nonsense when used to describe seafood. And much of the blame goes to all those celebrity chefs who teach people how to determine if the fish is fresh---firm of flesh, bright of eye, no odor. That doesn't describe "fresh" fish. It describes quality fish. And if the quality is there, why should anyone care how long it's been sitting around?

what fish are frozen-whole-to-be-thawed-at-the-consumer-market?
post #16 of 18
Correct again.If you flash freeze good quality fresh fish, it will thaw as good quality fresh fish.If you freeze junk it will come out junk. How many cooks and chefs I worked with thought by freezing it, it would get better. Nonsense
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post #17 of 18
...Nonsense

and that was not the question.

regarding the theory that fish can sit around for days / weeks / months and consumers need not worry about eyes and gills because it was frozen at sea:

I have not seen a lot of filets or steaks that included eyes or gills.

so, what fish are caught, frozen whole, and thawed at the consumer purchasing level where the buyer need not worry about those things?

and quite frankly, if the fish smells fishy, I'm not interested in buying it, cooking it or eating it.
post #18 of 18
Living outside of Chicago I feel your pain, but so far I've been pretty happy with Whole Foods for fish, as well as the H8 mart where you can pick up live blue crabs on weekends, live tilapia, live other crabs/lobster, live shell fish, and lots of exotics, as well as sushi grade.

Its not as good as living on the ocean for it, but its not bad either.

Whole foods got a shipment of lake pearch the other day, and they were fantastic. I think I lake perched myself out for a while, I had 4lbs in a week.
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