Green Tip #16: Frozen Produce (Not Fresh) in Winter

Frozen berries

Everything is frozen here in Canada – including lots of the produce in the house! While I would love to eat strawberries year round they simply don’t grow here all the time. Plus, anytime I buy “fresh”  fruit this time of year  I feel guilty knowing how many green house gases (GHG) were emitted getting them to my table in addition to the fact that it doesn’t taste as good having travelled so far (Chile, Spain etc).

So instead I buy lots of frozen fruit and vegetables. Now I realize that they are still travelling some distance to get to me (although I buy as much Canadian frozen food as I can) but they have been frozen at their freshest and most nutritionally wholesome point. We usually get them on sale for $1.99 for 500g whereas “fresh” would be at least $3.00

Of course the best option would be to freeze my own fruit and veg in the summer and eat it in the winter which would mean  zero GHG.  I did do this 2 summers ago and it went pretty well although the vegetables were a little watery. I plan to do it again this year as we won’t be so consumed with house renovations as we were in 2010.

Do any of you buy lots of frozen produce in the winter months? What are your favourite brands? Who freezes their own?

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20 comments to Green Tip #16: Frozen Produce (Not Fresh) in Winter

  • brad

    I always keep frozen berries on hand — blueberries in particular freeze well. I used to pick buckets of wild blueberries and just throw them in the freezer (it’s better if you don’t wash them, or if you do wash them you need to let them dry before freezing). Frozen berries are also great for making homemade sorbet in the blender, no ice-cream maker necessary — throw some frozen berries into the blender or food processor with some yogurt and sugar, blend just until the berries are processed, and you have a delicious sorbet.

  • That sounds like a yummy treat Brad. I must say I have had bad luck with freezing blueberries but maybe they weren’t dried out properly after rinsing. Wild blueberries are so good!

  • We do have some frozen berries that we use for pancakes. Very tasty. Other than that we don’t use any frozen produce. It just doesn’t taste the same. I really prefer fresh and seasonal stuff. But it can be expensive, especially in winter months.

  • brad

    Another thing I recently started doing is buying frozen fish and keeping a stash in the freezer. I use the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Guide (it’s available as an iPhone/iPod/iPad app), and was getting frustrated that most of the fresh fish available in my city always seems to be on the “avoid” list. Amazingly enough my local Provigo (part of the Loblaw’s chain) carries some of the recommended varieties, such as wild Pacific cod, in the freezer section under the President’s Choice Blue Menu brand. Many of these fish are independently certified as coming from sustainably managed fisheries. In many cases frozen fish is actually fresher than “fresh” fish, since it’s often frozen at sea right after being caught.

    Every summer I pledge to buy peas, corn, green beans, and other easy-to-freeze local vegetables from the farmer’s market and freeze them for winter use, but it never seems to happen…summer weekends are too busy.

    • Agreed summer weekends are too busy Brad but I guess we can just keep trying to get those fruits and veg in the freezer! Thanks for the tips on the frozen fish. I buy quite a bit of frozen fish too but have not seen that particular guide, I will check it out. I use the guide from the David Suzuki Foundation site.

  • We probably freeze 60-70% of our produce in the summer. Between what I grow in my garden, what my mom in law grows and what we get from our CSA, we get really good and stocked up for winter. It works great. I love the feeling of going to down to my freezer to get some produce for a dish that I know where it came from. It tastes really great too. The great thing is, some stuff doesn’t need to be frozen. We have a cupboard that is cool and dark that we keep potatoes, squash, beets, onions, etc in from the summer. Those kinds of things last for months in there. Stocking up in summer saves us a ton of money and limits are carbon footprint.

    • So jealous Miss T. We really are looking forward to getting a proper garden going this spring. We’ll freeze what we can and try to buy more from the farmer’s market as our garden is limited in size.
      What is a CSA?
      Good call on the root veg – our kitchen has some cold cupboards as well and I was just thinking the other day we should store some things in them.

    • Cool thanks Miss T.
      It seems in addition to the link you sent there is a similar service in our area that delivers organic veg too. We’ll need to check them both out.

  • “Of course the best option would be to freeze my own fruit and veg in the summer and eat it in the winter which would mean zero GHG.”

    Freezing your own fruit and veggies might be the way to go, but you have to ask: Where’s your electricity generated? :) Transport is not necessarily where most of the impact is coming from; in fact, it’s usually the storage and the GHG’s emitted from driving to the grocery store!

    However, I try to eat more seasonally, simply because one can also save money that way. So, I still eat fruit but probably a bit less than I do when it’s on season.

    • @ Invest it Wisely You have a good point about the electricity. I think if you can get electricity from a sustainable source then that’s great, but if you can’t, make sure to buy energy star appliances. That is what we did. Yes I know it is not a perfect situation but I still think I am making more of a positive impact than bad by growing my own food and freezing it then driving to buy it from an importer.

    • The freezer is already on IIW. And, having a low stocked freezer means it will cycle on more often to cool the empty space. A moderately-well (not stuffed) freezer keeps things cooler longer – thing of a cooler with ice in it.

      Edit: I also find it hard to believe shipping strawberries from strawberry is better for the environment than some people picking some up at the grocery store, but then I don’t have proof …

  • I am very new at gardening/canning/freezing so I am sorry if this is a dumb question but how would I freeze large fruits like apples?

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