Here at MB Team HQ, we can confess to having had the odd frozen food disaster or two, and I’m sure you have too. You know how it goes - pop the leftovers, veg, fruit or sliced bread in the freezer with good intentions only to defrost it a week later and it’s morphed into a flavourless mush or it’s dried up with ‘freezer burn’. It’s no wonder frozen food can get a bad rap.
This is a hassle for all frozen food fans. The combination of convenience and high nutrient retention makes frozen a natural winner. But what about the taste? To understand the freezing and flavour question, you have to learn the distinction between freezing food, and frozen food.
The reason the left overs have less flavour after you’ve stuck them in the freezer is because our freezers aren’t actually ‘freezers’ as such, but rather ‘preservers’. Food takes time to freeze in a household freezer, and while this is happening large ice crystals are forming that damage the molecular structure of the food so that when we reheat it, well you know the rest. Watery and flavourless. And the slower something freezes, the bigger the ice crystals.
There are a few methods of commercially freezing food, which enables the food to go from room temperature to a temperature that is cold enough, to inhibit microorganism growth. This also reduces the formation of ice crystals and locking in the nutrients and flavour in the process. There are still ice crystals formed, but they are smaller and do less molecular damage, while maintaining the nutrients and all importantly, the taste.
The more modern freezing techniques use liquid nitrogen and sometimes solid carbon dioxide to flash freeze produce so that you get close to all the flavour that you would have experienced if you had eaten it when it was first cooked. That’s in stark contrast to the half eaten home cooked meal you stuck in the freezer, and to its bland tasteless reincarnation after reheating.
The science of freezing and packaging has improved significantly over the years and we are the winners off the back of it. For us, the consumer though, it’s the convenience. As much as we enjoy cooking, there are some nights when we're just not up for it. On the days when the rats are winning the rat race, a busy girl (or boy) might need a little frozen help in the kitchen.
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