Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables?

There’s always room for JELL-O.

When I was growing up in the 1960s, I associate most lunch and dinner food we ate as coming from cans. Campbell’s soup. Fruit juice, usually DelMonte or a store brand. Canned fruit, ditto.

Carnation evaporated milk, which my late great aunt Deana put in her tea. My sisters swear she said she poured it until the drink was as light as she was. For a black woman, she WAS quite fair.

And canned vegetables. The corn and peas weren’t too bad. I would eat spinach because Popeye cartoons had indoctrinated me. But other veggies went from tolerable to inedible. In the latter category, beets. They were vile. I would – seriously – put mustard on them just to kill the taste.

In the 1970s, I was off to college and beyond. My vegetables of choice were generally frozen. They were SO much better than the boring canned varieties. And even better than the Swanson frozen TV dinners we occasionally had in the previous decade.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that I actually discovered fresh vegetables to a large degree. It was A Whole New Dimension in dining. In the last couple of years, I happened to try canned spinach, though I don’t recall the brand. It was terrible! How did I eat that stuff?


I was thinking about this because I tend to be the person who cooks the eggs in our household. Usually, when I’m making an omelet, I’ll sauté onions and spinach beforehand. I’ll add mushrooms only if my daughter isn’t eating them. I use Olivio because my nutritionist says it’s better for me than using butter. It cooks the same and works better than most butter/margarine substitutes.

Recently, my wife offered me thawed, chopped, frozen spinach to use. My instincts said this would not work for me. How does one know when frozen spinach is sautéd? When fresh spinach/mushrooms/onions start to wilt, that’s my visual cue. Frozen spinach offers me no visual cue. And it didn’t taste as good.

Now, thawed frozen spinach is great for dips at parties. Remember parties? In pre-COVID days, I used to attend those. [Sigh]

Those ever-shrinking cans of tuna fish – freshwater – are good to have on hand. Do they still also come in oil?

And canned fruit is useful when you put it in JELL-O. Which reminds me, I haven’t had JELL-O since I was sick a few years back. Suddenly, I have a hankering for JELL-O with mixed fruit, topped by Cool Whip. What the heck is in Cool Whip anyway?

Spelling tip: If you write sauté, you only need the D to make it sautéd. But if you write saute, you need the ED to make it sauteed.

FTC whatever: no compensation was received for mentioning these brands.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables?”

  1. to be fair, beets NEED something to kill the taste.

    I am picky and I actually like canned beets okay, the secret is to make a sauce for them with lots of vinegar in it – either pickled beets or something called Harvard beets (which can also be made with wine instead of vinegar).

    One thing I do find a problem in….all this….is how much I relied on fresh fruits and vegetables, and when you’re trying to only go to the grocery every 10 days, that makes it harder.

    Won’t eat canned spinach, though. I don’t even care for the frozen kind. Luckily the bags of fresh stuff keep for a while, especially if you plan to saute it before eating.

  2. I discovered the glory of beets (and yes, that is possible) when a friend taught me to roast them in the skin, wrapped in foil. Honestly, I never knew they were good until then! And they are good in certain bakes. I have a recipe for beetroot chocolate cake that is moist… and I can kid myself that we are eating a healthy dessert.

    Until I moved to LA in my late teens, I had no idea what fresh veggies were. My mom was of the canned/frozen persuasion as well. But when I first smelled a fresh clove of garlic, my mind was blown! All juicy and rich!

    Up until that moment, and I swear this is the truth, I thought garlic was a naturally occurring powder. My cousin the chef still laughs about that one.

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