Fresh Fridays

June 27, 2014
Vol. VI No. 13

In This Issue

Humans have been preserving food for thousands of years, so that it could safely be consumed long after the food was caught, harvested, picked, milked, or prepared. Preserving food reduces the growth of bacteria, fungi or other micro-organisms, slows the oxidation of fats and helps keep foods looking appealing.

Many methods of food preservation are truly the "old ways". Canning or jarring, smoking, salting, drying, jugging, curing, fermenting, pickling, and sugaring are all traditional, "old ways" of preserving food -- which we'll explore in future issues of Fresh Friday. Freezing and refrigeration may seem more recent, but in fact, our ancestors took advantage of cool caves and cellars for storing food, and always slaughtered large animals in the fall so that the meat wouldn't spoil before it could be salted or smoked.

Since 1930, when Clarence Birdseye's first line of frozen foods hit grocery stores, we've been fortunate to have access to frozen food whenever we want. But too often, we dismiss it as somehow less worthy than fresh. Like many people, you may think it would be great (nutrition-wise and taste-wise) if we could all eat fruits and vegetables just as they're picked from a garden, farm, orchard or backyard. Although we know this just isn't possible or even realistic, we may not realize that frozen food can help, without compromising nutrition.  

While nothing compares with just-picked, the reality is that most fruits and vegetables sold in stores have spent several days -- sometimes even weeks--in warehouses, trucks and on store shelves since they were harvested, all the while losing key nutrients. Because of this, researchers at the University of California Center for Excellence in Fruit & Vegetable Quality concluded that "frozen fruits and vegetables--picked at the height of quality then flash-frozen--are equally nutritious as their fresh and canned counterparts and perhaps more so for some nutrients."

Dr. Barbara Klein, a professor of food and nutrition at the University of Illinois, found that when fresh green beans are harvested, the vitamin C content begins falling immediately and a significant portion of it is gone within just 24 hours. "Actually, 58 percent of the vitamin C found in freshly picked green beans is lost within three days," says Klein. Dr. Klein also discovered that the amount of vitamin C in frozen green beans dropped by only 15 to 20 percent from the beans' just-picked state.

In another study led by University of Georgia scientist Ronald Pegg, results showed that the nutritional value of many frozen fruits and vegetables is generally equal to that of their fresh counterparts. In addition, the amount of vitamin A, vitamin C and folates in some frozen fruits and vegetables is actually greater than that of fresh-stored produce. Professor Pegg speculated that this is because of the nutrient degradation that occurs in fresh produce during storage.

Pegg and his team purchased fresh and frozen blueberries, strawberries, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, green peas and spinach from six independent grocery stores, to average out differences in growing conditions, country of origin and time in the supply chain. Nutrients in each food were analyzed three ways: frozen, fresh (on the day of purchase) and fresh-stored (after five days in a kitchen refrigerator).

In today's grocery stores there are thousands of frozen food options; Oldways and the MFA suggest that you read labels and look for simple frozen foods that preserve all the goodness of the original food in the same minimally-processed form that residents of the Mediterranean region might have enjoyed centuries ago.  

See below for three recipes that make use of frozen foods for Mediterranean inspired meals.  

Click on the recipe title or photo to go to the recipe.

Juice bars and coffee shops from coast to coast are jumping on the smoothie bandwagon. Make yours at home and jump start your day with a frozen and fabulous Avocado Banana Blueberry Bang with avocados from California.


Recipe, content and photo courtesy of the California Avocado Commission
Providing a powerhouse of plant protein, beans are a rich tradition in Mediterranean cuisines. To add beans to your Mediterranean repertoire, look for beans in cans or in dry form in a bag or in the frozen food section of your grocery store. Frozen beans are becoming more common and are an affordable, delicious food that also happens to be healthy. Edamame, while not native to the Mediterranean region, fit well with the Mediterranean's long love affair with beans.

Recipe courtesy of K. Dun Gifford in The Oldways Table. Photo and content courtesy of Oldways.
A pasta dinner with frozen vegetables (peas, broccoli, asparagus -- your choice!) and frozen shrimp can be a time saver for busy people. These partners also add up to healthy one-plate or one-bowl meal: vegetables and seafood from the freezer mixed with a high-quality carbohydrate like durum wheat pasta. Added benefit? It's affordable.

Recipe, content courtesy of Oldways. Photo courtesy of Fotolia

Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be. 

To find even more delicious Mediterranean recipes please visit:     

 Mediterranean Foods Alliance (MFA)        





Let the old ways be your guide to good health and well-being.       



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March 15-22, 2015
Aegean Coast
and Istanbul
Join Ana Sortun and
Oldways in Turkey for
a week-long journey
from Bodrum to Izmir
and on to Istanbul.

Contact Abby Sloane
at 617-896-4875
for more information.


by Sandor Ellix Katz (Author), Michael Pollan (Foreword)
Winner of the 2013 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship, and a New York Times bestseller, The Art of Fermentation is the most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published.

by Harold McGee
Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking is a kitchen classic. Hailed by Time magazine as "a minor masterpiece" when it first appeared in 1984, On Food and Cooking is the bible to which food lovers and professional chefs worldwide turn for an understanding of where our foods come from, what exactly they're made of, and how cooking transforms them into something new and delicious.

by Michael Pollan
In Cooked, Michael Pollan discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements--fire, water, air, and earth--to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink.

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