canned vs. frozen vs. fresh (my personal experience)

 

Canned food has been around for about two hundred years, according to a Wikipedia article I just read at

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canning

Hard to believe, is it not?

According to another Wikipedia article re frozen foods, at

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frozen_food

From 1929, Clarence Birdseye introduced “flash freezing” to the American public. Birdseye first became interested in food freezing during fur-trapping expeditions to Labrador in 1912 and 1916, where he saw the natives use natural freezing to preserve foods. … [E}xperiments, involving orange juice, ice cream and vegetables were conducted by the military near the end of World War II.

Which means that frozen foods were common by the time I was growing up.

My impressions, in a nutshell:

Frozen orange juice from concentrate was horrible.

Most vegetables tasted then, and still do, quite good: for example, peas (especially), broccoli, and string beans.

But other vegetables, strangely, did not then and do not now seem to taste as good frozen. Corn, for example. And, spinach.

Why is it a fact that (it seems indisputable to me) that corn seems to taste far better canned?

Spinach? it doesn’t seem to freeze well. It needs to be fresh.

Beets are best by far fresh. They are passable canned, but not very tasty or nutritious.

When it comes to fruits, I actually prefer some canned! This may be because I was brought up with them being served them that way, often for desert. (I loved Del Monte Fruit Cocktail.)  For example, peaches and pears. I think they taste very good canned. In contrast, they have a rough texture when fresh that I can’t get used to. And, the fresh ones are often as hard as rocks.

Strawberries ideally should be fresh. But, fresh strawberries when purchased often are not that fresh and taste bitter. My mother used to use frozen strawberries, and I actually got to like them. Nowadays, store bought strawberries often seem to taste “cottony.”

Peas, as I mentioned above, taste great frozen. They seem to retain their full flavor and to be just about as good as the real thing. Why is it that canned peas taste insipid?

As I mentioned above, canned corn tastes just great. What about the real thing?

My father once told me that he had heard it said that corn on the cob should be eaten right away once harvested – the way he put was, “you have to practically run to the pot with an ear of corn.” I have noticed that a lot of store bought corn on the cob does not taste particularly good. The kernels are hard, and you can tell it’s not fresh. Which is not to say that there is nothing like a buttered ear of fresh, sweet corn on the cob.

Did anyone ask about cherries? I have never heard of them being sold any other way than fresh. I love them. Too bad they are often not fresh anymore by the time they reach market, with the result that they taste bitter and tart –- the delicious sweetness all gone. It’s very hard to find fresh cherries here in New York.

You will see cherries very highly priced, wrapped in cellophane, in stores here. They supposedly are the best ones, from the state of Washington. They seem to have spent a lot of time on the shelf and are fair, at best. Basically, it’s a rip off. It used to be, just a few years ago, that there would be a few weeks during the summer when you could purchase the real things – honest to God sweet, fresh cherries – at local greengrocers in the City. I can’t seem to find them anymore.

I forgot to mention watermelons. They were wonderful in my childhood; they were local. Nowadays, it’s hard to get fresh, sweet watermelons. More often than not, they are more or less tasteless. What a shame. Watermelons seem to grow profusely practically everywhere.

— Roger W. Smith

     July 2016

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1) rogersgleanings.com, a personal site, he also hosts a websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim Aleksandrovich Sorokin.
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