Kate and I tend to rekindle a debate every year when Autumn and Winter make their way across the equator and fare at farmers’ markets begins to come from the Southern hemisphere. I like the eat local thang when convenient and usually when possible at all. So we go on about the better way of preserving foods during times when they may not be easily grown.
Freezing is one option and has many advantages. It is usually very easy to freeze food with modern, domestic refrigeration equipment and that equipment is somewhat inexpensive to those of us fortunate enough to live in countries like the United States, Italy, Japan, Brazil, or Australia. A little soak in vinegar, hot water, soy or teriyaki sauce, or treatment with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) may be needed, but usually:
A few spare minutes
+ Space in the freezer
Freezing can be easy. Is it efficient? I mean that in several ways. Mainly, does freezing maintain taste, texture, and is it affordable to our wallets and our possible futures?
I don’t like thinking about how many joules are used to keep packages of peas and ears of corn suspended in water ice from their point of freezing until they are cooked in a consumer’s kitchen. How much of a drain is it on a town’s power grid with such a packaging plant down the street? How much fuel is burned in transit just to keep frozen food cool? What do grocers pay in the way of their electric bills? How does all of that translate to local, state, national, and global economics? I won’t pretend to understand how power companies and energy trading works but I wonder.
Leaving those crunchy worries aside, freezing is a change in matter states. Flesh that is frozen has a different structure than flesh sold fresh. Water within frozen flesh expands and then contracts when thawed. Cell walls pop. Most of you likely know the science so I won’t insult or bore you with the molecular details. My point is that the texture of frozen foods will often be at least a little, if not noticeably, different. The taste and texture of what I stuff in my maw matter a lot to me.