What’s Better: Fresh or Frozen?

What's better: Fresh or frozen?When it comes to grocery shopping, it can be hard to know which is better--fresh or frozen. Supermarket guru Phil Lempert joins Easy Does It host Ereka Vetrini to share his tips on making the best choices for fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat.

Many people think that fresh is always better for produce. However, this is not necessarily the case. According to Lempert, "You want to think about taste. You want to think about flavor, nutrients, and you want to think about what's in season."

Related: Guide to buying frozen food

For example, he says, the fresh strawberries you'll find in the produce section in December or January have probably been picked before they were ripe. "They're big, red, and tasteless--and no nutrition," he says. Instead, Lempert suggests buying the berries frozen because they were picked at the peak of freshness and frozen immediately. Plus, they will be less expensive than fresh.

Related: Fresh meals using frozen food

Lempert says that frozen foods have not had any of the nutrients removed. "Today, freezing is the most advanced technology that we've got in the food world, and it keeps nutrients in, keeps more flavor in, and it keeps the perfect texture."

As for fish, Lempert notes, "Think about how fish is caught. Boats go out for weeks or months at a time. And then right on the boat, they're cleaning the fish, processing the fish, and packaging the fish." He adds, "If you go to the previously frozen variety, it's really been frozen and thawed two or three times. If you buy it in the frozen case, in those clear plastic see-through packages, guess what? It was frozen once on the boat."

When it is time to use the frozen fish, Lempert says to defrost it in the refrigerator for 24 hours or to place it under cold running water for 40 minutes. And if there is a mild odor left on the fish, he says, "take the fillet and put it in milk for about five minutes and that will clean up the flavor, and it will be the freshest tasting fish you've ever had."

As for whether Lempert prefers pre-made hamburger patties or ones that have been frozen...he says he likes neither. Instead, he explains, "when I want to make a burger...whether it's going to my local butcher or to the supermarket butcher, I pick the cut of meat that I want, and then I have them grind it right on the spot. That way I know that there's been no extra fat added, no fillers added."

For more advice from Phil Lempert, check out his website, supermarketguru.com.

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