We are sure you must be bored to death about hearing about how food was always fresh and of superlative quality, from your grandparents. Well, it’s true! In the good ol’ days, vegetables were sourced locally, wheat and rice were grinded at home and cows and buffaloes were milked for dairy every morning; and there were no supermarkets or packaged foods.
Well, the times have changed; milk is packaged, and so are your vegetables. And you can’t fight it even if you want to. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to compromise on the quality.
Quality makes all the difference. The flavours and texture of elements in the final dish will depend on how fresh the produce is. A seven-day old broccoli that looks tired and dehydrated or yellowing kale will not retain the crunch and taste in a stir fry. Not to mention the several nutrients that the vegetable will lose when it gets stale. Similarly, while cooking with seafood, it’s important to know that you have used a fresh catch; seafood should reach your kitchen within twenty-four hours of being caught. While you may use different spices and techniques to enhance the taste of what you are cooking, it cannot add taste to the raw produce if it is not of supreme quality.
Pure, fresh and quality of raw produce is healthy and tasty. Even the best chefs in the world – from Rick Stein to Jamie Oliver and Matt Moran, will tell you that fresh produce is the key to amazing flavours.
But, is it as black and white as it is made out to be? Fresh food is the best, but is it always fresh? Vegetables and fruits may take days to reach your kitchen, and in the process may lose some of its purity and freshness. Fish and meat not handled properly (unregulated temperature control, low hygiene standards, etc.), even though looking fresh, may contain bacteria and cause stomach upsets.
What lies beneath…
Fresh produce is best to work with. It can create remarkable dishes. However, what really matters is the origin, quality and storage conditions right up to the time of delivery. Fresh produce is typically picked up before it’s ripe; so it doesn’t always come with a load full of nutrients. Also, with time, they start losing the nutrients that they have.
And that’s where frozen or canned food scores the point. Frozen vegetables and fruits are harvested at their prime. They are then frozen, thus locking in most of the nutrients. While there may be minor losses of water soluble vitamins due to the initial blanching, most of the vitamin and mineral content remains intact. The same way, flash freezing of seafood seals in the freshness and keeps flavour intact. The contact with air and moisture loss are minimum.
Canned food might be somewhat depleted during processing, but once the initial loss is over, the nutrients level is locked. A 6-month old can of tuna or peas on the shelf can be healthier vis-à-vis the fresh produce, that has been sitting on the shelf for weeks.
Similarly, dried fruit is high in energy as the drying process concentrates the sugars. It also has a high concentration of more stable nutrients such as calcium and iron. Talking about seafood, pure dried fish is a completely natural product that retains the antioxidants and omega-3 benefits of fresh fish. Dried fish doesn’t require preservatives, making it a healthy alternative.
While it is best to eat farm fresh produce for a healthy lifestyle, when you don’t have access to it, believe us, frozen, canned and dried foods are the next best alternative to boost nutrition!