Answer: It depends…
With spring upon us, many people start thinking about gardens and farmers markets. These provide wonderful fresh produce, but if that produce is not stored properly, the quality can quickly deteriorate.
Ethylene gas is a naturally occurring enzyme in fruits and vegetables that causes them to ripen. That is why some can be picked before they are ripe and ripen in a paper bag. However, that same gas can cause other produce to deteriorate if stored together. Freezing stops ethylene gas production.
Plain, frozen vegetables (sauces can add extra calories, fat or sugar) can be healthier than fresh, depending on how long the fresh have been sitting in the market or in your refrigerator. Nutrient content deteriorates as vegetables ripen. Frozen vegetables are processed at their peak nutritional value. It could take days or weeks for fresh vegetables to be transported and stored before they are cooked.
Proper storage with other fruits and vegetables is critical. It’s best to purchase only amounts that can be used before they become overripe or decayed. Otherwise, you need to preserve them through freezing or appropriate canning methods.
Contributor: Karen Sherbondy, RD, LD, Extension Associate, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org