When summer comes to a close, or in the peak of a particular food’s season, lots of folks turn to canning and/or freezing to preserve the harvest. Which one is the best choice? There are pros and cons to both methods of food preservation. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Some people are surprised to find out the variety of foods you can freeze. You can freeze tomatoes, for instance, and bell peppers.
Pros of Freezing Produce
* Equipment – You don’t need much special equipment for freezing – just zip top bags, a cookie sheet, wax paper, and a freezer. You can also freeze foods in Mason canning jars.
* Simplicity – Freezing does not require as much “fuss” as canning, generally speaking. There is no sterilization of containers or long cooking times.
* Safety – Pressure canners and long boiling water baths for jars make freezing a safer alternative, especially for those with pets and children.
* Longevity – Frozen foods are virtually immune to spoilage as long as they are in the freezer. Freezer burn can happen, but the low temperatures stop bacteria growth.
Cons of Freezing Produce
* Texture – There’s no doubt that freezing produce affects its texture. This is because water swells when it freezes. Plant foods are made up of mostly water, so when you freeze them the water inside the plant’s cells expands and causes the cell walls to burst. The result is “floppy” produce.
* Space – If you don’t have a separate freezer, storing the harvest in your home freezer attached to the fridge can take up a lot of space.
* Electricity – If the power goes out for a length of time, you could lose your frozen produce.
Pros of Canning Produce
* Customization – Canning your own foods means you can choose how much and what combinations of foods to can. You don’t have to go to the store and get a can of corn, tomatoes, and green beans if you have a home-canned quart of these vegetables mixed already.
* Storage – You don’t need a special receptacle for canned goods as you do for frozen. If the power goes out, your canned goods will be just fine in the pantry or cellar.
Cons of Canning Produce
* Nutrients – Some sources point out that cooking and heating destroys nutrients, whereas freezing tends to preserve them.
* Equipment – A pressure canner is pretty much essential for canning any low-acid food, and pressure canners are not necessarily cheap. You also need quality glass jars, tongs, and a wide-mouthed funnel.
* Precautions – You do need to take special precautions when canning, and you need to go to great lengths to ensure that everything is sterilized and the heat is high enough and applied long enough.
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