Not worth preserving?

Some foods store better than others. What foods do you think are so awful in any preserved form that you’ll only eat them fresh?



  1. January 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I was going to say that most vegetables are only worth eating fresh. I stand by that as far as canning and freezing goes. But if we count root cellaring, lacto-fermentation, and dehydrating among the preservation forms, then I have to admit that most vegetables can be made palatable in preserved form. In my opinion, there’s just no good way to preserve lettuce, or asparagus, or broccoli, or snow peas. I’m not into canned fruit that tries to preserve the fruit as fruit, like canned peaches. But if you turn it into jam, it’s good. Some herbs aren’t worth using any way but fresh, in my opinion: basil, sage, and cilantro in particular; and I very strongly prefer fresh thyme and rosemary.

    • Emily said,

      January 25, 2012 at 9:41 am

      My copy of the Joy of Cooking actually tells you not to can lettuce! Um, yeah. Got that one…though people do can spinach, so…*shrug*

      The only canned veg I can stand is tomatoes, and perhaps corn (though frozen is better, and less work). Canned peaches, I actually love. But then, some people love canned green beans, which make me shudder. All a matter of taste.

      I wish, oh how I wish, I could freeze snow peas! I’m in the “cabbage-carrots-kale” doldrums just now…really wanting more vegetables, and not just the long-keepers. And it’s not even February yet…

  2. Robyn Morton said,

    January 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Asparagus. Ugh. But generally I like canned & frozen vegetables, when used properly. Canned corn will never taste like fresh corn, just like tempeh will never taste like chicken, so don’t try to substitute it. Use it in different ways, like in chili, soup, or as part of casseroles (or sauteed w/ onion… mmmm). Frozen broccoli is awesome used as the base for broccoli soup–I actually prefer it to the hassle of fresh in that case, since you’ll be cooking it into the ground anyway. I think in most cases it’s more about expectations then actually about the quality of the preserved foods.

    • Emily said,

      January 25, 2012 at 9:42 am

      Yeah, canned asparagus just baffles me, too.

      And good point about expectations – I’ll eat frozen cauliflower in something like Chicken Korma, but I’d never eat it as a side dish.

  3. Mel said,

    January 25, 2012 at 11:10 am

    No canned asparagus, mushrooms, beets (unless lovingly pickled), or peas for me. I am hitting my dinners with loads of fresh citrus and fennel right now to bring some summer sunniness to my winter dishes.

  4. EdgeWiseInAnnArbor said,

    January 25, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Great question! Which are the last preserved items to be used out of your freezer, root cellar, pantry, etc.? Are they last because you are savoring their wonderfulness (ah fair sorrel pesto) or because you fear their terrible taste when not fresh (zucchini, brussel sprouts) or because you are so bored of eating that (mounds of frozen winter squash you’ve come to dread).

    Zucchini. ugh. They are terrible after freezing. I suppose I haven’t tried pressure canning or freeze drying or pickling.

    I do actually like canned, pickled asparagus (spicy!), and I don’t mind thawed Broccoli or most of the others people mentioned. Sure fresh is great, but in the winter, I’ll take most of what I can get.

    I really like brussel sprouts fresh, but I’ve only rarely found a thawed one that was palatable.

    Again, awesome question. Thanks for getting me thinking.

    • Lisa Bashert said,

      February 2, 2012 at 10:40 am

      I would love your recipe for sorrel pesto!

      • EdgeWiseInAnnArbor said,

        February 2, 2012 at 11:06 am

        Oh, it is a real treat! I’m planning on growing more sorrel this year (“replenish” cultivar) as the kids are always trying to break into my stash.

        Sorrel Pesto Recipe (adapted from Two Small Farms recipe)
        2 cups coarsely chopped fresh sorrel, ribs removed
        1/3 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
        2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
        1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
        1/4 cup cashews (I prefer them to pine nuts in this recipe)
        1/2 teaspoon salt
        1/4 cup olive oil

        In a food processor or blender puree the sorrel, the parsley, the garlic, the parmesan, the nuts and the oil. Makes about 1 cup. We generally make process them in several batches for later consumption.

        For freezing, transfer the pesto to ice cube trays and freeze overnight. Then pop them out with a butter knife and into plastic freezer bags. Keeps in the freezer for 6 months to a year.

        For refrigerating, transfer the pesto to a jar with a tight fitting lid and chill it, covered. The pesto keeps, covered and chilled, for 2 weeks.

        To use the pesto: Thaw frozen cubes in the microwave for short periods of time (30+ seconds) and/or lower power to avoid burning them. Toss with pasta for a zingy treat. Works well with both whole wheat and regular pasta. We sometimes add whole, cooked kidney beans for more protein.

        For a milder flavor and wetter sauce, for every pound of dried pasta cooking in a kettle of boiling water, stir together in a heated serving bowl 3/4 cup of the pesto and 2/3 cup of the hot cooking water. When the pasta is al dente, drain it in a colander, add it to the pesto mixture, and toss the mixture until the pasta is coated well. Vermicelli works very well with this recipe and the additional water.

        Other sorrel recipes I like are here:

  5. jj said,

    January 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I’ve discovered that sometimes the problem is in the preservation method. For instance, some things absolutely have to be peeled before canning (peaches – too fuzzy), while you can get lazy with others (pears). Likewise, some things MUST be blanched (beans). Some methods are better than others for particular things – peaches don’t freeze well for me (they tend to go all brown and mushy when you’re thawing them), while other things are actually much better frozen than canned (blueberries, in our opinion), or some things are better dehydrated (apples).

    I have never tried asparagus, and I am fairly certain it would never be as tasty as fresh, but it might be worth the experiment, and I would certainly give it a go, because I’m just like that. We just don’t have any in the garden yet. I don’t expect frozen or canned stuff to be the same as fresh, and mostly use it in cooking or baking or in smoothies. Canned pears and peaches, though, we eat right out of the jars with a spoon – they are dessert, in our household…

  6. Cynthia said,

    January 28, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Pickled asparagus (canned) is wonderful! Also, frozen roasted asparagus is very, very good. I also really love canned green beans, so much better than frozen. And I really like canned mushrooms on pizza – they have a much more mushroomy flavor than fresh mushrooms on pizza. I use fresh mushrooms everywhere else.

    I don’t like ultrapasteurized dairy products, coffee beans I haven’t ground myself fresh, pasteurized apple cider.

  7. angela said,

    February 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    eggs………pickled eggs are good if eaten right away and made with beet juice but the pink jar of pickled beets and pig feet memories of youth freak me out! and i agree with lettuce. I read escarole can be store with roots in tact by burying in sand in root cellar but have not tried.

  8. February 19, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Lettuce, celery or watermelon. Hmm… Squeeze the water out and dry it? Hmm… Oops! They’re all water or almost. 🙂

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