8

Whilst I am not that good, I love to cook and I absolutely love onions!

When I cook, the longest part always seems to be peeling and cutting onions.. and hate the crying! (mainly because I buy the small ones and use about 7 or 8!)... Although, from reading the knife skills question, I think I just need a sharper knife and more practice!

Anyway, having previously only bought fresh vegetables, I have recently "discovered" frozen, and I have to say, I think the majority are nicer than fresh!

I am hesitant to try others without recommendations first, but, I have seen large packs of frozen, chopped onions and I was just wondering if these are as good as fresh?

So far I have had sweetcorn, brussel sprouts and peas which were all good, but I have also had mixed stir fry vegetables which were horrible! are there any general rule as to what vegetables are good frozen?

6
  • 3
    Broccoli and Cauliflower seem to be pretty good frozen fresh. Mixed fry vegetables are generally pretty 'soft' but can taste ok. I've no experience with frozen onions but after a while you get used to cutting them. Dip a sharp knife into some water for the fasted cutting.
    – Barfieldmv
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 12:37
  • 2
    Fresh onions store pretty well in dry climates, longer refrigerated anywhere; they aren't generally only seasonally-available, are relatively inexpensive in small quantities (not just bulk), and don't fluctuate much in price (where I live)... so I don't see an advantage to using freezer space for onions -- even though the taste is passable, which it is. I freeze items that fit some of the above criteria. Maybe try some techniques for lessening the eyeball burn?
    – zanlok
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 19:09
  • @zanlok, where I live it's quite frequent for onions to either be mouldy already when purchased or to develop mould within a week. On short timescales it's not a big deal - just discard the outer layer or two - but for storage frozen onions have an advantage here. Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 21:32
  • 2
    ok... had them... and mixed feelings.... when fried up, they really do not taste as good - texture and taste... however as they were already friend, I decided to use them anyway... threw in the minced beef and spices, and honestly, I wouldn't of known the difference, so, I would NOT use them for anything where onions are important e.g. as a side with things, but as an ingredient, I think they are a good lazy substitute.
    – wilhil
    Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 21:37
  • I've personally never tried onions from frozen (I'd be afraid they've give out too much liquid as they defrost), but if you still have any left, you might try them in an application where you're slowly cooking them and not trying to brown them, and see if they do any better in that application.
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 30, 2011 at 1:47

12 Answers 12

9

My general rules are twofold --

  • Is the item something that can be frozen whole? (yes for corn kernels, peas, lima beans, etc.)
  • Is it something that I'm going to reheat, but not cook over high heat?

So, part of it's the items themselves, but the other part is how I'm preparing them ... and stir-fry just isn't something that I think lends itself to frozen vegetables in my opinion, as you want to cook them quickly, and they're not going to cook quickly from frozen. Sweating, on the other hand, you might be okay with, I've never tried using frozen onions.

I typically use frozen vegetables for things like pot pies, soups, and such, where the vegetables don't need to be at their absolute prime. Frozen peas hold up amazingly well; I'll even sprinkle them into paella or other dishes to add texture and color.

My suggestion for your onion problem would be to get larger onions. You'll spend less crying over 1-2 large onions than 7 or 8 small ones. At the very least, peel 'em all, then start cutting, so you're not exposed to the fumes slowly over a longer time.

2
  • +1 thanks, going to roll a dice for answer between you and Eric! ... My main gripe would be to use them and then ruin an entire load of meat... I will buy a bag tonight and try to fry a bit and see how they taste as it is only £1, if they are rubbish, I will buy larger onions from now on, if they are good - I will use frozen from now on.
    – wilhil
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 15:48
  • Thanks, and FYI, made a comment above after trying... mixed feelings!
    – wilhil
    Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 21:38
6

I generally find that caramelized onions taste the best in all things, so what I tend to do is to suck it up and cut up 3-5 lbs of onions at once and caramelize them all down, let them cool a bit, then put them in a freezer bag and freeze THAT. Then, as I need onions, I can break off a chunk and I've got a lot of flavor really fast. I can make french onion soup in minutes, have onions to put on burgers in a flash, etc.

Most veggies will freeze fine if you know how. Mushrooms can't be frozen directly from fresh, but if you saute them up first, then they can. Carrots should be parboiled first. Same with corn and peas and the like. I also freeze things like roasted garlic, lemon zest, fresh bread crumbs, and tomato paste that I will eventually need but won't necessarily use all of at once.

5

I find the biggest issues with frozen vegetables from a strictly aesthetics standpoint is texture and taste. Frozen veggies almost always lose the crunch that fresh has, especially if cooked properly and not cooked to a limp,mushy mess. The firmer vegetables tend to hold up to freezing better as well.

Frozen onions are definitely limp and weaker than fresh ones, but you make a good point of time saving. I personally would take the extra time, but depending on how you are using them, like in home fries or some soups and sauces, they are a reasonable substitute

If you find you really like the fresh better, you can reduce the number of cutting/crying cycles but chopping some extra and freezing them yourself. You will get better flavor from your own recently frozen onions and have some prep done for next time you need them.

1
  • +1 thanks, going to roll a dice for answer between you and Joe! ... My main gripe would be to use them and then ruin an entire load of meat... I will buy a bag tonight and try to fry a bit and see how they taste as it is only £1, if they are rubbish, I will buy larger onions from now on, if they are good - I will use frozen from now on.
    – wilhil
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 15:47
5

The issue I have with frozen onions in particular (and I love other frozen vegetables) is that when you are looking to really caramelize your onions (not just cook them until they're no longer hard), you can't add liquid in the initial stages because the onions will steam rather than fry.

Water can only heat up to boiling point before it starts changing into steam. (212 F or 100 C at sea level.) Any additional heat energy is only going to make the transition from one state to the other faster -- it won't get any hotter.

Oil, on the other hand, can heat up to its smoke point -- which can be significantly higher temperatures. Thus, it can allow chemical reactions that only occur at higher temperatures. (Maillard reactions? Can someone with access to McGee confirm that for me?)

That's why boiled onions look and taste different from caramelized onions. The latter are much sweeter and have different flavors.

Frozen onions generally have enough ice inside or on them that they never truly caramelize. If you just want to get them soft enough to eat, they're fine. So it really depends on what you're doing with the onions. In fact, you might want to have some of each. If you're just using the onions in stew, for example, frozen would be fine. But if you're making a stir fry or other high heat dry dish, you'd want fresh.

1
2

My only problem with frozen chopped onions tends to be that they're not chopped very fine. Other than that, in any cooked application, most people will not be able to tell the difference between the frozen onions and the freshly-chopped onions. Naturally, the same isn't true if you're not cooking the onions, but how many uses do you know for raw chopped onions? (Sliced, yes, but chopped?)

1
  • 1
    Raw chopped onions: burgers/hot dogs/sausage/etc, salads, salsa, chili (added right before serving)...
    – derobert
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 22:52
1

I usually choose chopped, frozen onions to avoid crying. But they do not have the crisp texture you want for salads, or rings for those who want rings on their burgers.

0
1

Frozen onions not a problem if using in sauces or you want them broken down, the high water content in them expand and contracts the onion to affect it's structure so you need to decide what their going to be used for.

1

Raw onions that have been frozen have a kind of sweetness that is differrent from fresh ones, a sweetness I find disagreeable. To save time and effort, and reduce the tears, put all the onions you're going to cook in the day in cool water in a bowl, and let them soak for a few minutes. The skins absorb moisture, and they become very easy (and very fast!) to peel. The layers that are partly dried at the top become easy to tear off at the demarcation between what used to be papery and what is still not. Just grab a bit beteen thumb and blade of paring knife, and rip sideways, rotating the bulb.

Last of all, cut the root off. Put the pre-prepped (peeled and top-trimmed) onions in a bag, jar or covered bowl, and store chilled: they'll keep in the fridge a few days.

Just before using, cut the root just at the edge between the bulb and root. Don't cut deeper than that. Put in cold water for a couple of minutes to reduce the tears.

I run up to 10 lbs. at a time through a food processor, using the slicing blade, toss the whole lot into a small roaster. Press them down, and round the sides so onion isn't pressed against the sides of the roaster, to prevent scorching or burning. Once cooked and cooled, I press the onion into a small scoop, folding the sloppy edges back into the scoop, press down firmly to remove excess juice, and place the nicely rounded little scoopfuls onto a cookie sheet for quick-freezing, after which they go into a freezer bag to be taken out in the quantity needed.

They make soups and stews very fast to prepare.

0

Personally, I'd advise against freezing onions. They last for weeks in the cold room or in the fridge, so I see no point in freezing them. Frozen peas, green beans, carrots and corn are acceptable, although never as good as fresh. The quality also depends on the freezing technique; industry uses fast-freezing techniques which lose less vitamins and texture.

It seems that freezing has to do with fiber; there is some mention of that in this Robert Lustig's talk on sugar. I highly recommend watching the whole video, but the rest of talk is not relevant to the question, so here's the link to a relevant minute or so of the talk (about 40:55 to 42:00).

0

i just ate some frozen onions and green pepper in tuna salad sandwiches. they were from my garden. washed chopped and frozen 8/2012 it is Now 4/2013 and they were fine. just tossed them in the tuna salad frozen and mixed up. chilled the tuna and tasted great. even crisp. and i froze them 8 months ago before winter. you'll be fine. remember you are always chancing botulism when not cooking ANY vegetable.

0

Frozen chopped onions from the supermarket are dire. They have too much ice in them and form an impenetrable mass not allowing you to see how much you are using.

0

I make a delicious vegetarian version of good ol NY style Matsoh Ball Soup. I have always used FRESH pearl onions. Yes it's time consuming to peel them, but the flavor they add to the broth is amazing. I just tried FROZEN pearl onions for the first time. Big difference. They had absolutely no flavor in my mouth. When they are fresh, and you get a whole one on your soup spoon, it's an immediate burst of flavor. I will never use frozen pearl onions again for this soup recipe.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.