Preserving the Harvest:
by Mary Louise;Town Jaqua, Health Minister
A trip to the 'deep freeze' can be an exhilirating
experience, especially when you are hungry! Those
who enjoy the living food lifestyle know that, as much
as they like eating fresh, nutritious food can come out
of the freezer! This being said, preserving food the
frozen way can, in fact, be the method of choice. All
it takes is a freezer, food, and a little time and
Freezing Food: Where did it originate?
Surprisingly, frozen food has been around a long time.
Records show that the Chinese used ice cellars to
preserve food through the cold, winter months as early
as 3,000 BC. Likewise, the Romans stored food in
compressed snow inside insulated cellars. It was
common for those living in cold climates to preserve
food in the most natural way available to them: freezing.
The practice of preserving food via freezing, however,
evolved over time, depending upon social terms and
demands. The invention of refrigeration is a relatively
new development in the quest to extend the life of
Refrigeration was taken a step further in 1917 with
the work of Clarence Birdseye who is regarded as
the father of frozen food. According to historical
records, Birdseye was fur trading in Labrador, Canada,
where he observed local inhabitants preserving fresh
fish and meat by letting it freeze rapidly in Arctic
temperatures. His research of the Inuit peoples revealed
that they had successfully discovered that freezing food
preserved it at peak quality, locking in freshness and
taste. Subsequently, Birdseye brought back this
knowledge to the US and proceeded to perfect the
freezing process into what we now know as 'quick
freezing.' In this process, the food is rapidly frozen at
extremely cold temperatures to obtain small ice
crystals so that food cells are not damaged.
As the result of Birdseye's work, the frozen food
industry was born. Refrigerators were soon designed
with freezer compartments and later chest freezers
for domestic use appeared on the market. In the 1940's
and 1950's sales of frozen food products took off rapidly.
The first frozen-ready meal hit the freezer aisles in 1953.
Chest freezers were designed for economy, enabling
consumers to buy and store in bulk. The rest is history!
Freezing food: the benefits
Perfecting the art of frozen food has led to increased
popularity and demand which, in turn, has expanded
the market for ready-made meals and more. Apart
from convenience, there are many advantages to
- It is a natural form of preservation
- Frozen fruit and vegetables are often more
nutritious than fresh, since freezing prevents
sensitive vitamins and nutrients from being lost
during transportation from farm to consumer.
- Enables food to be available upon demand
- Gives year around access to a greater selection
of otherwise seasonal foods
- Helps to reduce food waste by allowing use of
food only as needed
- It is economical, allowing one to take advantage
of special food sales and bulk buying.
Frozen foods have thus enhanced the lives of millions
throughout time, contributing to health, environment,
variety, taste, and budget. The popularity and
acceptance of frozen foods often redefines the
issue of 'freshness,' since the nutritional value of
frozen food often exceeds 'fresh,' a fact that
Freezing food: the disadvantages
Despite the many advantages of frozen foods,
there is a down-side to this method of food
preservation. Some of these include:
- In the event of a power outage, freezers
can be rendered useless, causing food
spoilage and/or loss
- Foods frozen too long can develop
'freezer-burn,' wherein food becomes
so encased in ice crystals that most
of its nutritional value is compromised or
- Chest freezers can be costly to run,
adding appreciably to the electric bill.
Freezing food: nutritional insight
The nutritional quality of frozen vs. fresh food
is debateable. However, research shows that
as much as thirty per cent of the nutritional
value of food is lost in the freezing process.
This fact is attributed to the practice of blanching
fruit and vegetables in hot water or steam to kill
bacteria and arrest debilitating enzyme action.
Water-soluable vitamins such as C and B break
down in the blancing process. In comparison,
'flash-freezing' locks food into a relatively
When evaluating nutritional content of food, keep
in mind that most fruit and vegetables are picked
before they have ripened, a practice that compromises
the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, etc. Premature
produce never has the same high nutritional value as
that which has been allowed to ripen naturally on the
vine, in the field, etc. Furthermore, transporting
produce on the long haul exposes food to heat and light
which depletes nutrients such as vitamin C and the B
vitamins, especially thiamin.
Vegetable juices that have been extracted from
high-quality juicers like a Green Star or Hurom can
be frozen with little compromise in nutritional content.
From freezer to table: what to do
Excepting popsicles and other frozen fruit treats,
it is rare that frozen foods can be eaten in their
frozen state! Most frozen food needs to be
thawed before eating. To thaw properly:
- Take whatever food you want to use out
of the freezer before you need it, and let it
thaw at room temperature for as long as
necessary. Thawing time will vary according
to the food, i.e. a few hours or overnight.
- Avoid using heat to thaw frozen food, since
doing so will subtract further from its
- Never use a microwave oven to thaw
frozen food. Microwaving exposes food to
harmful radiation and changes its molecular
structure. Use of a microwave oven in any
form is a proven health risk.
- Frozen half-pint vegetable juices can be
thawed in the refrigerator for about eight
hours in order to enjoy a ready-to-drink juice.
Freezing food: The Living Way
Those of us at The Living Way use the method
of freezing in our practice of food storage. While
it is not our favorite method, it is an option that
we exercise with modesty and reservation. We
have a small chest freezer and during harvest
season, we customarily fill it with garden goodies.
We also use it to store bulk food items such as
fruit and nuts. At the end of the garden season,
our freezer is full of raw foods that we incorporate
into our daily meals throughout the winter. Our
favorite frozen foods include:
- Pureed tomatoes- lightly blended for use
as a raw soup base
- Raw spaghetti sauce and salsa- homemade
while ingredients are readily available.
- Seasonal fruit- blueberries, strawberries
- Bananas- for frozen desserts
- Nuts- almonds, walnuts, etc.
- Vegetable juices
For the sake of cost and convenience, we once
used empty BarleyMax canisters (and still do
sometimes) to freeze food, but in our quest to
eliminate plastic from our lives, we shifted over
to glass. Our experience with glass, however,
has not been entirely successful. While freezing
our vegetable juices in pint and half-pint jars
works well for us, freezing in quart jars does not.
Much breakage resulted. To avoid the down-side
of using glass, we moved to paper. Now we
mostly use paper containers that are designed
for hot or cold foods. They work well for us and,
with careful use, can be recycled!
We also use a FoodSaver vacuum sealer to bag
bulk fruit. In season we purchase bulk berries
and then prepare them for the freezer. Most of
the time we pre-wash/rinse/drain our bulk fruit
purchases. We put the fruit on trays into the
freezer until it is firmly frozen. In a few days,
we portion out the fruit into convenient-sized
bags and vacuum seal them before returning
them to the freezer.
On rare occasions, we make cooked soups
and freeze them in portions. Home-made
casseroles and fancy desserts (like pies!)
can also be frozen whole or in individual
We freeze vegetable juice in half-pint canning
jars to within .5" of the rim and then place a flat
canning lid on top before putting in the freezer.
Frozen foods: in an emergency
As long as the electricity is on, freezers can
be great friends, but in the event of a power-
outage, the frozen experience can be disastrous.
If or when the power fails, a little caution and
creativity can save frozen food. Here are some
- Do not open the freezer any more than
- If you open the freezer, do not leave it
open any longer than necessary
- If it is winter time and temperatures outside
are below freezing, transfer contents of
the freezer outside. If possible, bury them
in snow or cover with ice.
- If ice is readily available, add it to the
- Invest in a solar generator as a back-up
Frozen foods: enjoying the bounty
There is a certain joy and security in having
a store of readily-available foods. Having a
variety of foods frozen for future use is not only
practical but wise. Those of us at The Living Way
enjoy pulling living foods out of our freezer to
use throughout the winter months. Usually our
supply lasts until the next harvest season.
Suffice to say, home-grown and home-made
has a friendly flavor all of its own. In our small
way, we learn how to be good stewards of the
beautiful food YHVH gives us. The effort that
goes into preserving His living harvest pales in
comparison to the benefits derived from
eating healthy every day.
O taste and see that YHVH is good!
Happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!
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