How much do you know about frozen food? The concept isn’t new—people have been freezing food since as early as 1000 B.C.—but in recent years, developments in the freezing process have enabled us to reinvent frozen and bring new recipes and ingredients to the category in a way that truly makes frozen food fresher than ever.
However, misconceptions about frozen food continue to send people skirting the frozen food aisle. Frozen food is often seen as a less healthy back-up option or a supporting actor to the main event—a meal prepared at home entirely with fresh-stored ingredients.
But not only has frozen food evolved beyond the TV dinners of decades ago, it has also become a meal solution that makes more varieties of produce available year-round, helps reduce food waste, often provides greater nutrients than fresh-stored food, and it can actually be more affordable.
Did any of this surprise you? If so, read on for even more frozen food myths we’re busting, in honor of National Frozen Food Month.
Fresh food is healthier than frozen food
The notion that fresh food is healthier than its frozen counterpart is one of the most common myths about frozen food. When frozen and stored correctly, frozen food is actually just as—and in some cases even more—nutritious than fresh food.
In a University of Georgia study from 2013, the level of nutrients in fresh and frozen food was measured at the time of purchase and five days later. After five days stored in the fridge, the fresh food had less vitamin A, vitamin C and folate than the frozen food.
How can this be? Often, fresh food is picked before produce has fully ripened, then it’s packaged, shipped and stocked at the supermarket. It could be days or weeks between the time of harvest and when food finally reaches your plate. During that time, food loses nutrients—the majority of which is lost in the first three days after picking.
Frozen food, however, is harvested when produce is at its peak and frozen just hours later. This means all nutrients, flavor and quality are effectively suspended in time, contributing to a healthier and more wholesome final meal or ingredient.
All frozen food is highly processed
While frozen food at one time did contain more preservatives and processed ingredients than fresh stored food, the variety of frozen food choices with minimal processing and preservatives has grown exponentially.
Since colder temperatures prevent rotting and spoilage, frozen food often doesn’t need to be artificially preserved—it just depends on the freezing process. Some companies, like Cadence Kitchen, have innovated ways to freeze food and forego artificial preservatives entirely. Just check the nutritional label and ingredients before you place a frozen food item in your cart to make sure it doesn’t contain unnecessary preservatives or additives.
All frozen food is high in sodium
Sodium and frozen food are often synonymous in people’s minds, but more and more options for low-sodium frozen meals are popping up every day. Sodium does offer a powerful preservation method, however it’s not necessarily abounding in all frozen food.
Just check the nutritional label to see how much sodium a frozen meal contains.
Frozen food is more expensive
While frozen food is often regarded as a pricier option, it all depends on how you shop, and which frozen foods you buy.
In comparison to eating out, ordering takeout, purchasing out of season produce and tossing produce that goes bad before you use it, frozen food can actually be more affordable in the long run.
Food waste non-profit ReFED estimates that the average person wastes 238 pounds of food per year, which accounts for 21 percent of the food they purchase and costs $1,800 annually. By choosing frozen food, we can reduce the amount of food that goes uneaten due to spoiling.
All food is frozen the same way
Some may think that one frozen meal is the same as the next, but not all frozen food is created equally.
The most common freezing method involves circulating chilled air to freeze food which can lead to large ice crystallization in the food. This can alter the tissue structure and result in a heated meal that tastes slightly different than it would fresh.
However, liquid nitrogen has recently emerged as a freezing method that brings food to below sub-zero conditions almost instantaneously. This helps to lock in more of the flavor and quality for a better-tasting final result. For this reason, we use liquid nitrogen for all Cadence Kitchen dishes, and it’s opened countless new ways to create innovative and flavorful frozen meals that reinvent home cooking.
So, are you looking at frozen food a little differently now? Comment below if we busted any of the frozen food myths you were believing, and follow us on social media for a closer look at how we use liquid nitrogen to change the frozen food game.
Spencer Jones is the Food Technologist at Cadence Kitchen, where he oversees the safe and efficient creation of our recipes and final products. The FoodTech industry is fast-paced and continually changing, and Spencer ensures Cadence Kitchen continues to drive trends while never sacrificing on quality, taste or sustainability in our practices and final meals.
Give us a follow on social media as well to stay up-to-date on our latest from our kitchen.