Kids Club Vol. 37: Frozen food
Welcome to the latest issue of our ChopChop Kids Club newsletter!
This month, we’re thinking about frozen food—and not just because it’s freezing out where we live (although it is). In the winter, when lots of fruits and vegetables aren’t in season where we are, frozen foods are a great option. They’re easy to keep on hand and super-nutritious. Plus, they’re often already pitted, peeled, and/or cut into bite-size pieces, which makes them really easy to use. We’ve got recipes (of course), plus some cold facts, frosty activities, and chilly games too. Brrr!
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Pasta with Peas
Pasta with Peas
- Large pot
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cup
- Pot holders
- Large serving bowl
- 2 cup (about 10 ounces) frozen peas (do not defrost them)
- 1 pound small-size whole-wheat pasta shapes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Put the peas in the colander and put the colander in the sink.
- Fill the pot halfway with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Just before the pasta is done, use the mug to carefully scoop out 1/2 cup or so of cooking water and set it aside.
- Drain the pasta in the colander with the peas.
- Put the pasta and peas in the bowl and add the oil, butter, salt, and pepper. Mix well. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved cooking water, then mix again. Add the Parmesan cheese and serve right away.
You already know that peas don’t grow frozen in bags. But how do they get like that?
Freezing peas starts with growing peas, which starts in the spring, when farmers plant seeds. About 3 months later, it’s time to harvest them. Workers use a machine called a pea viner, which picks the whole plants and then spins them around very fast to break open the pods and get the peas out (this is called threshing). The peas fall through a strainer into the bottom of the truck, and the rest of the plant gets blown back out onto the field.
When the peas get to the processing building, they’re washed and then dipped in boiling water (this is called blanching) to keep them bright green and germ-free. The blanched peas are dropped into a tank of salt water, where the starchy old peas sink to the bottom, and the sweet, fresh peas float to the top. The good peas are taken by conveyor belt to an ultra-low-temperature freezer (or blast chiller), where they are frozen very quickly at a temperature of around –40 degrees (40 degrees below zero). The frozen peas are bagged and transported in refrigerated trucks to supermarkets.
The peas had a long journey before you bought them!
How to use frozen foods
We love fresh fruits and vegetables, but frozen can be just as healthy. In fact, while fresh fruits and vegetables can lose some nutrients to heat and light, frozen fruits and vegetables are packed when they are at their freshest, so they are still full of vitamins.
Some of our favorites frozen vegetables include:
- Cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
- Spinach, kale, collards, and other greens
- Green beans, lima beans, and edamame (green soybean pods)
And we like lots of frozen fruit, including:
- Berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries)
Using frozen food is simple too!
Frozen fruit rarely needs to be defrosted. Add it frozen to a smoothie or use it frozen in cooking and baking, where it will thaw as the recipe cooks.
Frozen vegetables can usually be added still-frozen to soups, stews, and other cooked recipes. If you do need to thaw it before using, simply follow the directions on the package.
- Measuring cup
- Food Processor (adult needed)
- 1 (12-ounce) bag frozen pitted cherries (2 cups)
- 1⁄2 cup plain yogurt
- 1⁄4 cup almond butter
- Put the frozen cherries in the bowl of the food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until the cherries are well chopped.
- Add the yogurt and almond butter and process until smooth.
- Serve right away.
Peas are the most popular frozen vegetable in the United States.
Frozen By the Numbers
- The country with the largest per capita (per person) consumption of frozen foods is Norway, where people eat an average of 78 pounds of frozen food per year.
- Clarence Birdseye invented the widely used quick-freezing method in 1924, which is 97 years ago!
- “Frozen,” the Disney movie, was the highest-grossing animated movie of all time, earning $870 million in box offices around the world.
Image by Disney