Monday, April 20th, 2009

How & Why I Freeze Raw Vegan Food

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

One of the ways I make my Raw vegan lifestyle easy is by utilizing my freezer. By doing this, I’m able to make foods in advance and nothing goes to waste. The following are things I think about when freezing Raw food.

1) What packaging (or container) will I freeze my Raw food in?
There are two types of packaging/containers I use for freezing: glass or plastic bags. When I freeze soups, nut/seed butters, hummus, dips, nut/seed milks, or dressings, I use glass mason jars. And, to make the freezing process even better, I use my
FoodSaver to suck out all of the air (they have an attachment for glass mason jars available for purchase). I even do this sometimes for food I keep in the refrigerator, even though it means using the FoodSaver every time I open the jar to eat some. It really helps to keep the foods extra fresh and delicious!

When I freeze dehydrated goodies such as pizza crusts, crackers, quiche crusts, nuts/seeds, dried fruit, or when I freeze desserts or pate, I tend to use the FoodSaver bags (yes, they’re plastic, but using the plastic can be helpful at times and necessary for things like quiche crusts, pizza crusts, desserts, and frozen bananas). Here, I use my FoodSaver to suck out as much air as possible, and, depending on the food, I’ll sometimes suck out all of the air and sometimes I suck out most of the air (being careful not to crush the food). That being said, I have used glass mason jars to store crackers and dehydrated nuts/seeds/etc (and then proceeded to use the food saver and glass jar attachment before freezing). The hard part about this is that the jars take up a lot of room in the freezer. As such, I now have a second large freezer (pictured above) and it was worth every penny because I store so much in there. I’m able to buy in bulk, save money, and freeze it all to preserve freshness.

Bottom line – I love my FoodSaver for freezing raw foods! In fact, my mom froze individual slices of my raw vegan cheesecake OVER A YEAR AGO using her FoodSaver, using the FoodSaver bags and sucking out as much air as possible without smishing the dessert (like my use of a technical word “smish?” – ha ha). Anyway… it tasted as delicious and fresh as the day I made it. Talk about some longevity! Heck… get a FoodSaver and make your holiday desserts now! Be prepared and save yourself time during the busy holiday season. :)

Now, all that talk about the lovely FoodSaver doesn’t mean that I don’t successfully freeze without a FoodSaver. I do! When I know I’m going to consume something within a month’s time or so, for example with raw desserts like cookies, chocolates, cheesecakes, etc… then I just slice it into individual servings (or create the individual cookies or chocolates) and freeze them in glass jars or glass square storage containers (my mom scored some of these at Costco for me recently – they have plastic lids, but that’s okay for me because the food isn’t touching the lid). It’s true that sometimes I end up using plastic containers, ICK!, but I try to stay away from it as much as possible. I’m still building up my supply of glass storage containers. It’s taken time to build an awesome Raw food kitchen, but it’s been worth every bit of the investment. It’s my family’s health after all.

2) What are the best Raw vegan foods to freeze?
A good rule of thumb is knowing that the higher the fat content it has usually means a better freezing experience. Therefore, if I’m freezing a fat free soup or dressing, then it might get some crystals on it over time, and it might not taste as good as it would fresh… but it’ll still be pretty good. In my opinion, I’d rather use a dressing on my salad that was frozen then thawed (but was still Raw vegan and pure), than to use a bottled dressing that underwent pasteurization and has shelf-life extending ingredients in it that I probably can’t pronounce anyway.

3) What about the vitality of my Raw food after it’s frozen?
It’s probably true that I lose some of the vitality of the food when freezing, but probably not nearly as much as when cooking. Freezing raw foods is a great option because if there is some nutrient loss (anywhere from 5-30% I’ve heard), I’m still getting tons of nutrition. And, add that to the fact that my life is easier, I’m less stressed and more organized, I save money, and I’m eating less cooked food because I have a freezer stocked full of delicious Raw foods… it’s a win-win all around.

In fact, the “fresh” produce I buy that sits in my refrigerator… well, that is also losing nutrition over time. It’s for this reason that some people believe that buying a bag of frozen organic berries (or other fruit) has more nutrition than fresh fruit from the produce department. The philosophy is that the (frozen) fruit was picked at its ripest and then frozen immediately to prevent nutrient loss that can occur from shipping to sitting in a large produce cooler at the store to sitting on the shelf waiting for you to buy it to transferring it home and then sitting in your refrigerator there, too. Note: Frozen veggies from the store are another story, because they have almost always been blanched before freezing, still studies show that not all of the nutrients are lost.

So… what do I do?
I cover all of my bases. I buy fresh and frozen organic fruits and I buy fresh vegetables. I get most of my fresh produce from the farmer’s market because locally grown is very important. And, while I eat most of my foods fresh, I like to keep a steady supply of Raw vegan foods frozen to make my life easier.

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