• The myths behind freezing fruit and vegetables busted

The myths behind freezing fruit and vegetables busted

For most busy restaurants and cafes, increasing efficiencies in the kitchen with meal preparation is a common way to save time and money. It’s hard to foresee how busy you’ll be throughout the week ahead so ordering fruit and vegetables can sometimes be a hassle. One way of getting around this is by using the freezer to your advantage. By using pre-packaged frozen produce, you’ll have fresh fruit and vegetables on hand around the clock. 

The process of freezing fruit and vegetables isn’t as simple as dicing carrots, bagging them and throwing them in the freezer. All pre-packaged fruit and vegetables you get from foodservice distributors are snap frozen to retain their freshness. Snap freezing is very different from the normal process you might take when you use your commercial freezer. It’s the process of rapidly cooling fresh produce with dry ice or nitrogen as a way of preserving them for up to 12 months. By cooling products in such a short time frame, you preserve the level of nutrients and crisp freshness within the fruit or vegetable without them becoming soggy and limp when steamed.

image of frozen berries

The standard shelf life of different fruits and vegetables

Eating spoiled fruits and vegetables is not only unpleasant but it can also harm a customer’s health and wellbeing. To ensure you’re not putting your restaurant patrons at risk, it’s important to know how long each fruit and vegetable variant lasts.

Below are lists of the standard shelf life of common fruit and vegetable variants:

Shelf Life of Common Fruits
Food Shelf Life in Cupboard Shelf Life in Fridge
Apples 4 days 1 month
Avocados 3 days  3 days
Bananas 7 days (if green), 2 -4 days (if ripe) It's advised not to refridgerate as they can turn black when their temperature is lowered
Berries - 2 - 3 days
Grapes 3 - 5 days
Melons 1 week
Peaches 1 day (to ripen) 1 week (once ripe)
Strawberries - 3 days (if covered and isolated from other foods)

Shelf Life of Common Vegetables
Food Shelf Life in Cupboard Shelf Life in Fridge
Pre-packed frozen vegetables - 12 months (in original packaging)
Beans - 3 - 6 days
Broccoli 5 - 7 days
Carrots - 1 - 3 months
Capsicum - 1 - 2 weeks
Corn - 3 Days
Lettuce - 10 - 12 days
Onions 1 - 3 months 1 - 3 months
White Potatoes 2 - 4 months It's advised not to refridgerate
Tomatoes 2 - 5 weeks (to ripen) 5 - 7 days

How do you know when to throw out your frozen fruit and vegetables?

We’ve all been there; a power outage strikes your restaurant’s building and you’re without a generator to spark your fridges back up to maintain active temperatures. You arrive to work one day to find your fridge and freezer at room temperature and you begin the arduous process of sifting through the piles of partially defrosted food to find out what’s usable and what’s not. But, how do you know what to keep and what to chuck? A full freezer that’s been turned off will hold your food at a safe temperature for about 48 hours. Food that still contains ice crystals or has a core temperature of 4.5 degrees Celsius or below can still be refrozen safely.

But what if your freezer doesn’t fail and you just happen to have a significant amount of frozen fruit and vegetables in the freezer that you’re not sure is suitable for your patrons? Scientifically speaking, foods will keep indefinitely in a frozen state and will never expire or go stale. That’s not to say it won’t keep its full flavour.
Fruit and vegetables that experience freezer burn from long periods in a cold and dry environment will inevitably dry out. Ice crystals that form over food draw the moisture out of frozen produce and with it a lot of its flavour. When it’s defrosted, it’s most likely safe to eat but will look limp and colourless and its flavour will be bland and unappetizing.

Superior Food Services offers a wide range of premium frozen fruit and vegetables from the humble, staple potato chip, corn cob and vegetable mix to the more exotic IQF fruits. Superior caters to all your recipes and dishes, with this month’s specials including Superior’s exclusive brand - Forbidden Fruits’ mixed berries (IFMB), blueberries (IFB) and mango cheeks (IMC1) and Iluka diced rhubarb (RD1KG).

Common myths debunked

image of frozen spinach

Myth 1: Freezing fruit and vegetables diminishes their nutrients

False: Though frozen food indeed loses some of its nutrients when you freeze it, it’s often more nutritious than the fruit and vegetables you can get your hands on in supermarkets. Pre-packaged frozen fruits and vegetables can contain more nutrients because it’s been harvested and snap-frozen at its peak freshness. Fresh fruit and veg need to be picked before it’s ripened so that it has a chance to ripen after travelling long distances to reach its destination.

Myth 2: All frozen fruit and vegetables are highly processed

False: As chefs and kitchen staff, it’s easy to put all snap frozen meals and produce in the same umbrella category of frozen food but there’s a world of difference between pizzas and peas. The development of technology, particularly over the last few years, has meant manufacturers can freeze virtually any food, from health-conscious ready-made meals to frozen squash and spinach without losing a lot of its freshness, nutrients and flavour. To ensure you’re getting a frozen product that meets the optimal health standards of your restaurant or café, always read the label carefully.

Myth 3: It’s defrosted, so you can’t freeze it again

False: As long as the fruit and vegetables that you’ve thawed out haven’t been left out on the bench for more than a couple of hours, there’s no problem with refreezing it. A quick tip is to thaw fruit and vegetables out in the fridge to avoid exposure to temperatures that promote bacterial growth. However, this general rule of thumb doesn’t apply to every food. Five foods you should avoid refreezing are raw and cooked proteins, ice cream, juice concentrates and combination meals.

Myth 4: All fruit and vegetables are freezer ready straight off the shelf

False: Just because they have natural compounds doesn’t mean they’re safe to freeze straight from the delivery box. Ziplock bags are not 100 per cent airtight and creating a passage through which air can pass opens up the risk of unfavourable bacteria and added moisture. If you don’t have access to pre-packaged snap-frozen alternatives, you can blanch vegetables before freezing and vacuum sealing. The boiling water changes an enzyme reaction to stop the food from breaking down and becoming soggy in the freezer.

Chefs are often faced with the challenge of deciding whether to go frozen or stay fresh when it comes to providing a range of fruits and vegetables in their beverage and meal options. Many chefs and kitchen attendees base their decisions off the reputation of frozen food. But before one takes the leap, it’s important to understand the risks and benefits of opting for convenience. Frozen food can be just as beneficial for you and your guests when managed properly. You can achieve the same flavour, level of nutrients and texture and fresh options, while still enjoying the benefits that come with its convenience.


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