Great Britain

From frozen peppers to tinned potatoes — Gregg Wallace on why fresh food isn’t always best

FROZEN and canned fruit and vegetables can often be healthier, cheaper and tastier than fresh versions.

A report by consumer champion Which? looked at nutrients, minerals, vitamins and other health benefits – and found fresh is not always best.

It can sometimes be weeks before “fresh” fruit and veg reaches our supermarket shelves, leaving its nutrients to deteriorate. TV’s Gregg Wallace is a fruit and vegetable expert and today he explains which should best be eaten fresh, frozen or tinned.

The MasterChef judge – who is in peak fitness after working on the ShowMe.Fit website – told The Sun on Sunday: “For a number of reasons, frozen and tinned food can be just as good as fresh. Many of us lead busy lives, so anything that can help us prepare nutritionally sound dishes that are not time-consuming has to be a good thing.

“On ShowMe.Fit we recommend using a range of fresh and frozen ingredients and tinned ones too. Freezing food is not the same as processed food – many of these items have been harvested in their peak condition and then frozen, so they hold their goodness.

“They haven’t had chemicals or preservatives added – freezing is enough to preserve them in perfect condition. If you are looking to cook something quickly and cheaply, then don’t be afraid to let frozen and some tinned ingredients be your friends.”

PEPPERS: FROZEN

WE all like peppers. They’ve got crunch, they’ve got sweetness, they’ve got colour.

But I suspect they may also win top prize for most unused veg in our veg tray in the fridge.

So for me, frozen peppers are the best solution. You have frozen, sliced peppers, which means you have all three colours at your fingertips.

Then you can literally throw a handful straight from the freezer into an omelette or frittata, or put them straight into any stew, tagine or tomato-based sauce.

RASPBERRIES: FROZEN

WHEN you buy frozen raspberries, they are frozen properly so they don’t stick together and rip apart and go to slush when you defrost them, unlike the ones we try to do ourselves.

I’d much rather eat a British berry frozen than an imported one. They are perfect to put on your breakfast cereal or make into a smoothie.

My preference for a smoothie is low-fat yoghurt mixed with almond milk.

There’s no need to add any sugar – the berries are sweet enough.

TOMATOES: TINNED

MY wife’s family are Italian, and Italian food would be impossible to imagine without plump red tomatoes. How do you suppose the Italians are making pasta sauces or pizza toppings during winter when it’s too cold to grow tomatoes?

They, along with the Spanish, preserve tomatoes when they are ripe, in tins or boxes.

We stupidly keep buying them from other countries and then complain they don’t taste as good as the ones in Italy.

The best option is tinned, or passata in packets.

BROAD BEANS: FROZEN

THESE are a favourite of mine and I always, always use frozen – as do many chefs I know.

Some people automatically think fresh must be superior. But to get a good, fresh broad bean you have to have it in your kitchen pretty soon after harvesting.

You then need to shell them, cook them in a pan without salt and remove the white membrane that surrounds them.

Why on earth would you want to do all of this when you can buy them podded, prepared by experts and frozen?

SQUASH: FROZEN

THE difference between a squash and a pumpkin is the thickness of the skins.

In summer the skins are thin, and they are squash, in winter the skins are thicker to protect the flesh inside, and they are pumpkins.

A squash or pumpkin takes some beating for value and I don’t think many of us buy them because they are big and scary-looking. Frozen, peeled, de-seeded squash is a beautiful product.

Put in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil, a bit of honey, and in 15 minutes you have sweet goodness.

POTATOES: TINNED

ONE thing that always surprises people is my love of tinned new potatoes, and I’ll tell you why I love them. For a start, there are so many bad fresh ones.

In fact, potatoes regularly sold as new potatoes are not in new potatoes at all, they are just mini potatoes.

A new potato is one that is lifted early in the season and has a skin you can rub off.

If the skin won’t rub off, it’s not new, it’s just small, and needs peeling. Tinned potatoes are peeled and cooked perfectly and the perfect texture.

PEAS: FROZEN

THIS may shock many of you but I really don’t know a single Michelin-starred chef who has not used frozen peas.

I have grown peas myself and if you don’t manage to eat them within about half a day of picking them, then they go hard.

And the longer you leave the fresh peas, the harder they get.

In fact, those in the know, know. If you don’t live next to a pea plant, never ever bother to try to buy fresh peas.

BLUEBERRIES: FROZEN

THEY are very good frozen and usually cheaper, as is also the case with raspberries.

They are also a good solution for people who tend to waste them – you only take the amount you need from the freezer.

I’m a huge fan of blueberries, but as with all things fresh and delicate, they go off very quickly.

We tend to buy too many, then throw them away when they go mouldy. It’s far, far better to have a bag of frozen and take a handful out when you need them.

SPINACH: FROZEN

SUCH a brilliant invention. It comes in hand-sized portions, almost in cubes.

You just put them in a pan or the microwave with a little bit of butter and there you have it. Anybody who has prepared fresh spinach knows you have to remove the stalk from every leaf.

Then when cooked, your bag of spinach goes from a whole saucepanful to an amount that would have difficulty filling your average egg cup.

Do yourself a favour – use the frozen option. It’s still packed full of all the nutrients you need.

SWEETCORN: FROZEN or TINNED

NUTRITION aside, normal sweetcorn is just such a bother to prepare.

You never seem to be able to rid yourself of those fibrous tendrils that grow between the yellow kernels and then always manage to get stuck in your teeth.

OK, if you really want a whole cob to munch on, then fair play – but most of us don’t.

What we want is little yellow chunks of sweetness.

Frozen are perfect, as are tinned, but I’d go for frozen.

Masterchef's Gregg Wallace reveals he's hit 'goal weight' of 12st after 4st weight loss

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