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Mar 15, 2014 07:42 AM

Frozen supermarket fruits & veggies better than fresh supermarket?

I am all for purchasing frozen items instead of those much handled droopy things sitting in the produce section. Thinking about it though, the frozen things have some disadvantages.

Stir fries are great fast foods, but here we go with the thawed out soggy veggies that just don't work. Can anyone suggest how to overcome this?

Some fruits get pretty soggy after thawing & don't look too good in pies or other desserts. I don't know how to fix this situation either.

I am really trying to make the frozen veggies work, but there definitely are some drawbacks. Could you folks post some hints to as to how you handle frozen fruits & veggies? Thanks.

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  1. I don't thaw frozen veggies for stir fry.

    4 Replies
    1. re: magiesmom

      Do you just throw the frozen veggies in a screaming hot pan?

      They won't wilt & get mushy?

      1. re: cstout

        They don't if they stay very briefly.
        Fresh are better though.

        1. re: cstout

          yes. Sometimes I rinse off the ice crystals. Keep in mind that the veggies were blanched before freezing, and that freezing breaks down the cell walls. So quick cooking works the best.
          IMO, frozen veggies are better than no veggies, and offer some options for variety.

          1. re: cstout

            I buy frozen stir-fry veggies at either Costco (preferred) or Sam's Club (not as good, but closer..)

            We like both (but prefer the Costco mix) and find that if tossed in a really hot pan, will stay brightly colored and crisp-tender without rinsing or defrosting.

            That said-- those are the only frozen veg I buy regularly -- we just don't like the texture of frozen veggies otherwise (and even those are on hand for stirfries on nights I'm out of time/energy/givadamn.)

            I'll occasionally buy frozen spinach for lasagna or similar recipes, but that's about it.

        2. I always have frozen peas and broad beans. Not only because fresh are only available for a short period but, also, I reckon they taste better. Always have to remember they need much shorter cooking time thna fresh.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Harters

            Shorter cooking time for frozen veggies - good point.

          2. Buy the best brand that you can afford. It makes a difference. I keep frozen brussel sprouts, corn niblets, pearl onions, French cut green beans, peas and mixed vegetables in the freezer. I live on fresh produce and fruit but I do not always have the time to clean and prep the fresh stuff. I do not buy frozen fruit but in the past I bought it on a regular basis. None of it resembled fresh fruit to me:)

            10 Replies
            1. re: MamasCooking

              Frozen blackberries are quite good, as are mangoes. Not like fresh, but worth having around.

              1. re: magiesmom

                True on the mango. I have posted on several threads about being a life long wild blackberry forager all over N. California so consuming frozen or commercially produced blackberries is not something I do.

                1. re: MamasCooking

                  My guess is that someone with a mango tree in their yard would feel the same about frozen mangoes.
                  We actually have lots of blackberries locally, when they are gone I like the frozen ones fine. And since they are so low in sugar they make a great winter crisp.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    I enjoy the frozen mangos. Good for a smoothie or homemade Popsicles

              2. re: MamasCooking

                I have always purchased the generic brand of veggies - will certainly look into trying a few name brands.

                I just bought a pint of strawberries & put them in the freezer, but when I let them thaw out in the fridge, they lost their firmness & were sort of waterlogged. Was very disappointed about that.

                1. re: cstout

                  Don't thaw them. Eat them mostly frozen or in smoothies

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    I just remembered an article that stated that we cannot flash freeze our produce as fast & good as the commercial growers - our freezers don't go that low on temps. Oh well, in the mean time, I will certainly eat my fruit half frozen or blended. No more bloated strawberries around here!

                  2. re: cstout

                    I find frozen strawberries are best when hulled, sliced and frozen. I then use them in oatmeal or smoothies

                    1. re: cheesecake17

                      I will slice the strawberries before freezing - thanks.

                      1. re: cstout

                        you might also have luck by hulling and washing the berries, then putting them onto a cookie sheet to freeze. When frozen solid, throw them in a plastic bag in the freezer.

                        Texture tends to be "not too bad". You're still not going to convince anyone that they're fresh, but they're usually not mushy.

                2. I use frozen mango for smoothies, and not long ago made a great raspberry "jam" just blending together thawed raspberries with their liquid and chia seeds.
                  I think frozen fruit is best for a sorbet or sauce when its blended since the texture will always be mush.

                  I can't imagine frozen veggies working for a stir fry since they give off so much liquid.....what about using fresh cabbage thinly sliced in a stir fry? Even markets will crummy produce will have cabbage.

                  24 Replies
                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                    I am just trying to adapt to a whole new way of cooking - have always preferred fresh but now have to take chemo & cannot function for days afterward, much less make it to the store or market, so must stock up when the "bad' days roll around.

                    Hate to admit it, but even the wilted "fresh" stuff was sometimes better than the frozen, but you all are giving me some good ideas to get by.

                    Yes, fresh cabbage is a life saver for that "fresh" taste, can last a long time before going stale.

                    Thanks to each of you for your tips - have learned a lot already!

                    1. re: cstout

                      Cstout, sorry to hear about the chemo. That certainly helps us understand why you are focused on using frozen veggies. Hope that you are on the mend. I'm sure your efforts at healthy eating will help

                      1. re: masha

                        Thanks for the encouraging words, wonderful chowhounds like you all always come to the rescue & give good advice on just about anything. My favorite "go to" place for all things related to food. My deepest gratitude to each of you.

                      2. re: cstout

                        I'm so sorry to hear you are going through that, i can't imagine.

                        Another thought for stir fry would be canned drained sliced water chestnuts and/or those canned baby corn (rinsed) if you like those.

                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                          Stir fries with water chestnuts & canned baby corn would be great in a stir fry. The canned corn is good in a salad too.l

                        2. re: cstout

                          I know almost nothing about cooking using frozen veggies but have done a lot of cooking for post- (and during) chemo treatments. Maybe consider some make-aheads for the bad days? If that appeals to you, I'll be happy to chime in on a new thread.

                          As far as the frozen veggies go, I've had the most success cooking fast from frozen--no defrosting. (Well, except for frozen chopped spinach which I love to thaw and drain and use in lasagne.)

                          Wishing you well.

                          1. re: miss louella

                            miss louella, thanks for the kind words.

                            I would love to have some of your make-ahead dishes.

                            The dairy queen just posted the following thread specific to cooking for people taking chemo. Perhaps you could post your wisdom & recipes there. I will definitely be looking for you on that site.


                          2. re: cstout

                            Oh, sympathies on the chemo! Can you tolerate soups and stews, pureed, maybe?
                            As others have said, frozen can retain many nutrients.
                            I cook from scratch, but when I'm making a soup or a stew in winter, always add a bag of TJ's frozen menage a trios peppers and a bag of frozen peas. Sometimes I puree before adding, sometimes afterwards. Frozen winter squash and greens can also work, packing in the nutrients. I love winter squash, but it's hard to cook and peel....

                            For fresh, if you can eat it, shredded cabbage and carrots and radishes and celery can give crunch, as you know.

                            1. re: Madrid

                              Madrid, thanks for all the wonderful tips.

                              I have a process after chemo that starts out with anything simple & frozen to help soothe the fierce flame feeling in my throat & stomach, along with nausea of just thinking of food.

                              Then comes pureed anything I can think of. A couple of days later I can eat solids, mostly soups & stews.

                              The following days are the happiest days when I can eat fresh veggies & fruits & can swallow without pain. By then, I am craving the crunchy mouth feel & I love to eat anything raw.

                              Unfortunately, the days go by so fast & it time for another treatment. Back the square one.

                              1. re: cstout

                                I have never forgotten this lovely steamed egg dish from Fuschia Dunlop's Revolutionary Chinese and wonder if it's something that might be appealing to you at one point or another.

                                Here's another version:

                                If you'd like me to summarize the Dunlop recipe for you, I'd be happy to do so.


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Your pictures of the steamed egg dish looked so soothing & wonderful - of course I would love to have a summarized version of the recipe.

                                  Since you mentioned eggs, I also thought about egg drop(flower) soup, but have never made it & don't know if it can be made ahead & then warmed up a couple days later.

                                  Thanks so much for sharing.

                                  1. re: cstout

                                    I've never tried to make egg drop soup ahead of time, but isn't it delicious? Thekitchn says it's a soup that doesn't keep well, alas. I found some bloggers who claim it can be reheated gently on the stove top, but I don't know how reliable their opinions are.

                                    What if you made the broth ahead of time, portioned it out, and froze it (in a ziplock baggie, flat, for faster thawing)? And then, when you were ready to eat it, just thaw, reheat and proceed with adding the egg, etc?

                                    Anyway, onto the Dunlop paraphrase:

                                    STEAMED EGGS (paraphrase from Revolutionary Chinese)

                                    She says it's important to steam the eggs gently (over medium heat) so as not to overcook them.

                                    1 1/4 c everyday stock
                                    4 extra large eggs (7 oz total--I don't know if this means 7 oz with or without the shell!)
                                    salt to taste
                                    1 tsp vegetable oil (or lard, melted)
                                    1 tsp sesame oil
                                    2 scallions, green parts only
                                    Soy sauce (to taste)

                                    1. Beat the eggs, set aside.
                                    2. Slice scallion greens thinly, set aside. Reserve scallion whites for another use.
                                    3. Boil 2/3rds of the stock, then pour in remaining 1/3 stock, after which point the stock should be hot but not boiling.
                                    4. Add stock to the beaten eggs.
                                    5. Salt.
                                    6. Stir in vegetable oil (or melted lard).
                                    7. Add water to steamer.
                                    8. Drain egg and stock mixture into a shallow heatproof bowl and put bowl into a metal steamer with the lid cracked slightly open (which is what I did) or in a bamboo steamer (which is what she recommends because some heat will escape naturally).
                                    9. Over medium heat, bring water in steamer to a boil, then steam about 10 minutes until the custard is just set.
                                    10. Remove from steamer.
                                    11. Garnish with sesame oil, sliced scallion greens, and soy sauce.

                                    Here's the recipe for everyday stock from Dunlop's other book Land of Plenty Also, reports from other 'hounds on making the stock: Dunlop has a friend who makes the steamed eggs with a stock of fermented black beans.

                                    I just used doctored up chicken stock.I think I mentioned how in my COTM post, but just by simmer the stock with some ginger and scallions for a short while.

                                    Here's a paraphrase of Qing Quig's Vegetarian Black Bean stock recipe from the same book, RC:

                                    Add 1 quart of water and black fermented beans to a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer 20 mins. Strain if desired (for the steamed eggs I think I'd probably strain it for aesthetic reasons.)


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      Thanks for the recipes - the steamed eggs sound heavenly & will make a bowl of egg drop soup today. I appreciate you suggesting these - great stuff.

                                2. re: cstout

                                  Frozen fruit/juice bars during the first couple of days? They may help soothe your throat and get some vitamin C in you.

                                  1. re: Chatsworth

                                    Frozen fruit - yes, I just blend up some fruit to have in the freezer - icy heaven. This is when there are no bars in the house. Thanks.

                                    1. re: cstout

                                      Adding some grated ginger, candied ginger, or ginger juice (you can find it bottled sometimes) to your frozen fruity blends may help with the nausea.

                                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                                        the "ginger people" market ginger juice and grated ginger in my area, sold in the Asian section of supermarkets. Really easy to add to anything you are eating. A bit of turmeric is supposed to help as well with nausea.

                                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                                          Trockwood, ginger for nausea - I have completely forgotten that remedy! Sounds like you are speaking from experience on this one.

                                          Really strange, sometimes on my first days after chemo, I would love something immensely sour & have not found what that could be. I bought some real sour drop candies, but the sweetness in there just made me sick. I will just a lemon or lime with a little sea salt & that is better than nothing.

                                          1. re: cstout

                                            are sour pickles palatable the first days after? marinating sliced cucumbers with minced ginger and rice vinegar and salt? refrigerate, no need to can or anything complicated like that. If not the cukes themselves, maybe the juice?

                                            1. re: Madrid

                                              Oh yes, anything sour is great - I forgot about cucumbers - thanks for the simple & great recipe.

                                            2. re: cstout

                                              I am! It has helped any time i am feeling queasy. "The ginger people" ginger juice mentioned above is great, i love yogi tea's ginger tea, and with a squeeze of lemon its even better. Candied ginger may bother you since its often overly sweetened.
                                              I also have loved ginger tea made with sliced bashed fresh ginger slices and a few mint leaves- i just leave them in the bottom of my mug.

                                              1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                I almost bought the yogi ginger tea today then decided against it. Next week I guess.

                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                  Its good stuff! I think you'll like it, fld.

                                      2. re: cstout

                                        Oh my dear, I am so sorry you have to go through this. I wonder if putting frozen fruit through the Cuisinart to make an icy puree would produce something you could tolerate, that would be soothing to swallow. Like a Slurpy.

                                3. Even with the year round great produce here I keep some Trader Joe's frozen french green beans on hand- they're good!

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                                    How do you fix your frozen French green beans?

                                    1. re: cstout

                                      I usually add them to a screaming hot skiller with some coconut oil and blister them, turn the heat down and add chopped garlic until it's browned (but not burnt!) I've also added them to soups, casseroles, steamed them, etc. They hold up really well.

                                      1. re: weezieduzzit

                                        Green beans - I am wondering if some sort of breading on them - maybe panko crumbs & then baked in a hot oven would come close to the ones they sell in restaurants.

                                        1. re: weezieduzzit

                                          Do you think it'd be OK to cook the green beans for lunch the next day? Will reheating a second time turn them to mush?

                                        2. re: cstout

                                          I make them several ways- it's my 3yo daughters favorite vegetable. I buy them from trader joes or in a ginormous bag from Costco
                                          - roasted with garlic and cherry tomatoes
                                          - stir fried with garlic, shallot, soy sauce, mirin (or a splash of rice vinegar), and a sprinkle of brown sugar.
                                          - sautéed with tons of garlic and onions
                                          - stewed with onion, garlic, canned crushed tomato

                                          1. re: cheesecake17

                                            Your recipes for fixing green beans sounds so good - are you using frozen beans?

                                            1. re: cstout

                                              Yes! I use the frozen ones from Costco or trader joes.

                                        3. re: weezieduzzit

                                          Good call weezie, I forgot about those! They are my go to for Sichuan green beans when there are no fresh available.

                                          1. re: weezieduzzit

                                            I bought them but haven't tried them yet. I was tired of fresh green beans getting slimy.

                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                              I keep my fresh green beans in a brown paper bag. No sliminess

                                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                                Ah, thanks for the tip. It works for mushrooms not sure why I never thought about it for green beans.

                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                  Grandmas secret- mushrooms, cucumbers, string beans. All get dried off and stored in brown lunch bags :)