How to buy canned and frozen vegetables


Material Information

How to buy canned and frozen vegetables
Series Title:
Home and garden bulletin ;
Physical Description:
23 p. : ill. (part. col.) ; 23 x 10 cm.
United States -- Food Safety and Quality Service
Dept. of Agriculture, Food Safety and Quality Service
Place of Publication:
Publication Date:
Rev. Jan. 1975, slightly rev. Nov. 1977.


Subjects / Keywords:
Canned vegetables   ( lcsh )
Frozen vegetables   ( lcsh )
Vegetables, Canned
Vegetables, Frozen
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Statement of Responsibility:
prepared by Food Safety and Quality Service.
General Note:

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 022053072
oclc - 03779738
lcc - TX7 .U6 no.167
ddc - 641.31
System ID:

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Canned and frozen vegetables provide the
vitamins, minerals, and food energy we need as
part of our daily diets.
These easy-to-prepare foods are not only a
convenience, they are a necessity, especially
when fresh vegetables are out of season.
All canned and frozen vegetables are whole-
some and nutritious, but they can differ in quality
-the difference in quality means a difference
in taste, texture, and appearance of the vegetable,
and its price, too.
If you've been selecting canned or frozen
vegetables by habit, or can't tell which can or
package would be best for the use you have in
mind, here's some information that can help
you make a wise choice.

Check the Quality
The Food Safety and Quality Service of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture has established
grades of quality for many canned and frozen
vegetables. The U.S. grade standards are used
extensively by processors, buyers, and others in
wholesale trading, as a basis for establishing the

value of a product. If a vegetable is packed in an
approved plant and inspected for quality by
USDA, the labels may carry the U.S. grade name:
U.S. Grade A Grade A vegetables are care-
fully selected for color, tender-
ness, and freedom from blem-
ishes. They are the most
tender, succulent, and flavorful
vegetables produced.
U.S. Grade B Grade B vegetables are of ex-
cellent quality but not quite so
well selected for color and
tenderness as Grade A. They
are usually slightly more ma-
ture and therefore have a
slightly different taste than the
more succulent vegetables in
Grade A.
U.S. Grade C Grade C vegetables are not so
uniform in color and flavor as
vegetables in the higher grades
and they are usually more ma-
ture. They are a thrifty buy
when appearance is not too
important-for instance, if you
are using the vegetables as an
ingredient in soup or souffle.
The grade names and statement, "Packed under
continuous inspection of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture," may also appear within shields if
a product has been packed under USDA continu-
ous inspection. Under the continuous inspection
program, processed vegetables are inspected by
highly trained specialists during all phases of
preparation, processing, and packaging.
Use of the U.S. grade standards and inspection
service is voluntary, and paid for by the user.

But most canned and frozen vegetables are
packed and priced according to their quality even
though a grade is not shown on the label. Some-
times the grade name is indicated without the
"U.S." in front of it-for example, "Grade A." A
canned or frozen vegetable with this designation
must measure up to the quality stated, even
though it has not been officially inspected for
The brand name of a frozen or canned vegeta-
ble may also be an indication of quality. Produ-
cers of nationally advertised products spend con-
siderable effort to maintain the same quality
year after year. Unadvertised brands may also
offer an assurance of quality, often at a slightly
lower price. And many stores, particularly chain-
stores, carry two or more qualities under their
own name labels (private labels).

What's on the Label
Fair packaging and labeling regulations should
enable you to take a quick look at the label on a
can or package of vegetables and see just what
you are getting. They should also make it easier
for you to compare prices. The regulations re-
quire that the following information be given on
the label of the can or package as it faces the
* The common or usual name of the product and
its form or style. The style-for example,
whole, sliced, or diced-may be illustrated
rather than printed on the label.
* The net contents in total ounces, as well as
pounds and ounces, if the can or package
contains 1 pound or more, or less than 4
Labels may also give the grade, variety, size,
and maturity of the vegetable; seasonings; the
number of servings; cooking directions; and
nutritional information. If the number of serv-
ings is given, the law requires that the size of the
serving must be stated in common measures-

ounces or cups-so the buyer will know just how
much this serving is.
You may also find the USDA grade name or
shield on cans or packages of vegetables. This
means that the vegetables have been packed in
an approved plant and inspected for quality by

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Deciding which size can or package you should
buy is sometimes difficult, because canned and
Sizes and Servings
One-half cup is the serving size commonly
used for adults for most cooked vegetables.
Small children and light eaters are often satisfied
with smaller portions-one-fourth or one-third
Deciding which size can or package you should
buy is sometimes difficult, because canned and
frozen vegetables are packed by net weight rather
than volume. Also, the number of cups obtained
from a particular size of container varies for
different vegetables.
The chart on the next page shows the approxi-
mate amount of cooked vegetable obtained from
average container sizes of frozen and canned
vegetables. This chart should help you tell how
many cans or packages you need, or if you should
buy smaller or larger sizes.

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The most common container sizes for canned
vegetables are given below, along with the indus-
try terms used for these sizes. Industry terms for
containers of canned vegetables are sometimes
given in recipes.

Net weight

8 oz.

101/2 to 12 oz.

16 to 17 oz.

20 oz. (1 lb. 4 oz.)

29 oz. (1 Ib. 13 oz.)

46 oz. (2 Ib. 14 oz.)

Industry term

8 oz.

No. 1 or

No. 303

No. 2

No. 21/2

No. 3 Special

Common package sizes for frozen vegetables
are 8, 9, 10, 12, 16, 24, and 32 ounces. Some
frozen vegetables are also packaged in large
plastic bags. You may find it more economical
to buy the large plastic bag, because you can use
part of the contents for one meal and put the
rest back in your freezer to serve later.

Commercial Processing
Vegetables for canning and freezing are grown
especially for that purpose, and the processing
preserves their nutritional value. Both canning and
freezing plants are usually located in the vegeta-
ble production areas, so the harvested vegetables
can be quickly brought to the plant for processing
while fresh.
In today's modern plants, most of the process-
ing is done by automated equipment and there is
little handling of the vegetables by the plant
workers. These high-speed processes bring us san-
itary, wholesome products, preserved at the peak
of their goodness and flavor.

Styles, Seasonings, and Sauces
Both canned and frozen vegetables are sold
in many forms or styles. Beets, green beans,
potatoes, and other vegetables may be found
whole, cut, sliced, diced, and in other forms.
Whole vegetables generally cost more than cut
styles because they are specially selected for
appearance and uniformity of size, shape, and
color. Whole vegetables make attractive servings,
either hot or cold.
Short-cut green beans, diced carrots, and
tomato pieces are examples of the least expen-
sive styles of processed vegetables, and the
styles that are best used in soups, souffles, and
Fancy-cut vegetables, such as French-style
green beans or julienne carrots (both French-style
and julienne are sliced lengthwise), because they
are more attractive, are best used to dress up a
dinner plate or cold salad.
Many frozen vegetables are available in butter
or cream sauces, with mushrooms, or other gar-
nishes or flavorings. Some canned vegetables are
also available in butter sauces or with other gar-
nishes, such as tomatoes with green peppers and
onions. Such vegetables, of course, cost more than
the plain product, but let you serve something
different without any extra work.

Tips on Containers
When you buy canned vegetables, be sure the
cans are not leaking or swelled or bulged at either
end. Bulging or swelling indicates spoilage. It
may be dangerous even to taste the contents.
Small dents in cans do not harm the contents.
Badly dented cans, however, should be avoided.
Packages of frozen vegetables should be firm.
Because frozen vegetables should be used im-
mediately after they have been defrosted-to
avoid loss of quality, don't buy packages that
are limp, wet, or sweating. These are signs that
the vegetables have defrosted or are in the pro-
cess of defrosting. Packages stained by the con-
tents or with ice on the outside may have been
defrosted and refrozen at some stage in the mar-
keting process. The contents may be safe to eat,
but refrozen vegetables will not normally taste as
good as the freshly frozen vegetables.
Vegetables sold in glass jars with screw-on
or vacuum-sealed lids are sealed tightly to pre-
serve the contents. If there is any indication the
lid has been tampered with, return the jar to the
store and report the matter to the store manager.

A Consumer's Guide to Buying
Canned and Frozen Vegetables
The grade and style of a vegetable, whether
or not special seasonings or sauces are added-
all affect the cost of the processed product and
also determine the best way to serve the vegeta-
ble, so you get the most for your money and the
most out of the vegetable.
Selecting the style, seasonings, and sauces is
easy enough, because these are shown on the
label. The grade or quality often is not indicated,
but you can learn to tell differences in quality
by trying different processors' or distributors'
To help you check the quality of canned and
frozen vegetables you buy, the grades of some
of the more popular vegetables are described in
the list that follows, along with the styles of the



Grade A vegetables are probably the most ex-
pensive vegetables. But they are the most tender
and flavorful and make the most attractive serv-
ings for a special luncheon or dinner, either hot or
in a cold salad.
Grade B vegetables are less expensive. They are
good served hot or in casseroles or gelatin salads.
Grade C vegetables are usually the least expen-
sive vegetables. They are a good buy for use in
soups, purees, souffles, or stews.
All three grades of vegetables, in any style, are
wholesome and nutritious. And tastes differ-
most people like tender (Grade A) vegetables best,
but some like more mature vegetables (Grades B
or C).

Artichoke hearts-the tender inner part of the
vegetable-are available frozen and canned.
Artichoke hearts are also packed in vinegar and
sauces, to be used like pickles or hors d'oeuvres.
Canned whole artichokes are also available, and
they may be served like the fresh vegetable. The
repeated handpicking necessary to harvest arti-
chokes makes it a relatively expensive vegetable.

Asparagus is more expensive than other vege-
tables because much of the harvesting and
preparation during processing is done by hand.
The spear or stalk consists of the stem and head
(tip). There are two types of asparagus-green
and white. Green asparagus is canned or frozen;
white asparagus is canned. White asparagus is a
delicacy, produced by mounding earth around the
plant so that the stalk develops entirely under-
ground. Sometimes canned asparagus is packed
in glass jars, with a note on the label that color
preservative stannouss chloride) has been added.
Some canned asparagus spears may have shat-
tered heads because asparagus is such a delicate


Typical Samples




In the higher grades, the color is redder and
more of the tomato portions are in whole or
large pieces.


Typical Samples




As the quality increases, the pods are smaller
and less mature, the color is more uniform, and
defects are fewer.


L Asparagus

Points Cut spears
or cuts
and tips

Beans, baked, kidney,
and others
Many varieties of mature dry beans are pro-
cessed by canning. Baked beans are processed
in tomato sauce, or brown sugar and molasses,
usually with pork, and cooked in ovens. Small
white beans and lima beans are also available
in tomato sauce, sometimes with a small amount
of pork or meat flavoring. Red or kidney beans
are prepared in a sweetened sauce or clear salt
Top-quality mature dry beans have a smooth
sauce and few broken or mashed beans are
found in a can. Because of the unusually high
protein content and food energy of these vege-
tables, they may be used as main dishes as well
as side dishes or ingredients in salads.


- 5"







Beans, green and wax
Called string beans before the development of
stringless varieties, or snap beans, pole beans,
or bush beans when they are fresh, the canned
and frozen products are usually known as green
beans and wax beans. Wax beans are so called
because of their waxy yellow color. There is little
difference in nutritional value of the two types
of beans, but green beans are better known.
"Blue Lake," a popular variety of green beans
used for both canning and freezing, is often
named on the can or package. Italian or
"Romano" green beans are large flat beans.
Styles of both frozen and canned green and
wax beans are: whole, French (julienne or shoe-
string), and cut. Whole style beans are sometimes
packed vertically in cans; when the beans are of
about the same length, they can be labeled
"whole asparagus style." French, julienne, or
shoestring beans are sliced lengthwise. Cuts or
"short cuts" are sliced crosswise. Beans cut
diagonally are called "kitchen cuts" or "home

Beans, lima
Several types of lima beans are canned and
frozen. The Fordhook variety, a name often
shown on labels, is a large, thick bean. Several
varieties of lima beans have small, thin beans;
these are usually called baby limas. Lima beans
are white, yellow, or green, depending on their
maturity when harvested. Each color has its own
flavor. Green limas are usually the youngest
Speckled butter beans are another variety of
lima bean, found mostly in frozen form. They are
larger than most other lima beans and have a
different flavor. These beans range in color from
green, pink, and red to lavender and purple, with
brown, purple, and other speckling.
U.S. Grade A and B lima beans are less starchy
than Grand C, and baby limas are less starchy
than the larger beans.


Canned beets are available whole, sliced,
quartered, diced, and in strips. Beets prepared
in a slightly thickened, sweet vinegar sauce are
called Harvard beets.

Frozen broccoli is prepared as whole spears or
stalks, short spears or florets (the head with a
short portion of the stalk), broccoli cuts or pieces,
and chopped broccoli.
The highest quality frozen broccoli looks much
like the fresh vegetable-it has compact bud
clusters that are dark green or sage green,
sometimes with a decidedly purplish cast. Sec-
ond quality broccoli may have slightly spread
bud clusters.

Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are a member of the cabbage
family and they look like miniature cabbages.
They get their name from Brussels, Belgium,
where they originated.
Top quality frozen Brussels sprouts have
tight-fitting leaves and are free from blemishes.

Sauerkraut is one form of processed cabbage.
The shredded cabbage is fermented in a brine of
its own juice and salt, and it may be flavored
with peppers, pimientos, tomatoes, and various
spices. It is available canned and in refrigerated
packages, and, at times, a semi-fresh product is
sold from barrels or similar containers. "Sweet
and sour" red cabbage is also sold.



Canned and frozen carrots are available whole,
quartered, diced, as strips and round slices
(cuts), and chips (frozen only). Canned small
baby carrots are especially flavorful.

Frozen cauliflower is separated into florets
before it is frozen. Grade A cauliflower is white
to creamy-white. Grade B often looks slightly gray
or brown but turns white when cooked.

Processed sweet corn is found in many forms,
styles, and grades. Canned corn may be cream
style-with large or small pieces of kernels in
a thick, creamy sauce prepared from corn, salt,
sugar, water and sometimes small amounts of
starch; whole grain style, with the kernels gener-
ally whole and packed in a relatively clear liquid;
and vacuum-pack whole grain, with kernels intact
but little or no liquid. Most canned corn is pre-
pared from yellow or golden-colored varieties, but
some white corn also is canned. "Shoe peg" corn,
a whole-grain white corn, has small, narrow ker-
nels with a distinctive flavor.
Most frozen corn is whole-grain yellow or
golden corn. A considerable amount is frozen on
the cob.
Both canned and frozen corn may have peppers
or pimientos or other foods added for flavor or
Much processed corn is packed according to
U.S. grades, with the USDA grade mark on the
U.S. Grade A is tender and succulent, free from
defects and has excellent flavor.


U.S. Grade B is slightly more mature and more
chewy than Grade A, reasonably free from defects,
and has a good flavor.
U.S. Grade C is more mature and starchier than
Grades A and B but it is flavorful and nourishing.

Hominy is prepared from the mature kernels
of regular field corn. The kernels are soaked,
cooked slightly, and then the hard outer covering
is removed before further processing. Hominy is
available in plastic bags in refrigerator cases, but
it is usually canned, either in brine or as jellied
hominy. It is a starchy vegetable like potatoes
or sweet corn and is served hot. Jellied hominy
may be sliced and fried like potato cakes.

Mixed vegetables
There are many varieties of mixed vegetables
available-both canned and frozen-and most of
them contain vegetables of top quality.
These blends are usually more expensive than
buying the vegetables individually because they
require more handling, but they are tasty and con-
venient to use.
Among the traditional vegetable blends are
peas and carrots, succotash, and the product
called "mixed vegetables."
"Mixed vegetables" is a combination of green
beans, lima beans, carrots, corn, and peas. Some-
times diced potatoes are also added to this mix-
ture when the product is canned.
Succotash is a mixture of beans and corn.
Canned succotash may contain cream-style or
whole-grain corn and lima or green beans, with or
without tomatoes added. Frozen succotash nor-
mally consists of white or yellow corn and lima
beans. The proportion of corn and beans in both
canned and frozen succotash may vary somewhat
from packer to packer.
These more traditional mixed vegetable pro-
ducts have been joined by many new combina-


tions, especially frozen. Among the new frozen
blends-which are sometimes packed with
sauces-are peas and small onions; vegetables for
making stew; oriental and other exotic mixtures;
and vegetables, like peas and mushrooms, with

Mushrooms are canned in several styles:
whole (including the stems), as buttons (the
top only), sliced, and stems and pieces. They are
sometimes processed in butter and broiled before
they are canned. You may also find frozen mush-
rooms in some stores.

Sometimes called "gumbo," okra is quite
popular in the Southern States. It is often used to
flavor and thicken gumbos or thick soups. Since
okra is now available canned and frozen, its use is
spreading to other regions.
Small whole okra pods and pods cut into rings
are available both canned and frozen. Canned
fermented okra is partially fermented in a salt
brine and has an acid, kraut-like flavor. Usually
firm, with a bright green color, canned fermented
okra may be served as a side dish, but it is usual-
ly used in soups or other foods. Small okra pods
are also available pickled.

Whole onions are available both canned and
frozen and breaded onion rings are available
frozen. Canned whole onions are usually packed
in a salt brine. Top-grade canned and frozen
onions are specially selected for variety, size,
and shape so that they will keep their good
appearance during processing.


Peas, black-eye and
other Southern varieties
Several varieties of peas are known as black-
eye or Southern peas and sometimes by other
names such as "creme" and "purple hull." These
immature succulent peas are both canned and
frozen. Sometimes a few "snaps"-tender pieces
of the pod-are included with the peas for flavor
or garnish. Some canned Southern peas are pre-
pared from mature dry peas. These peas are
somewhat starchy and have a different flavor.

Peas, green
Either canned or frozen, peas are one of the
most popular processed vegetables. Different
varieties are grown for the two methods of pro-
cessing because of the different effects of can-
ning and freezing on flavor and color. Two types
of peas are used for canning-the smooth-
skinned early or early June type, and the dimple-
skinned or sweet type. Most peas for freezing
are of the sweet type, especially developed for
deep-green color.
U.S. Grade A canned peas are tender and flavor-
ful and their color is the typical soft pea-green.
The juice is slightly green and water-like. Off-color
peas are rarely found in a can.
U.S. Grade B canned peas may be slightly mealy
but they have a very good flavor. Their color may
be variable and a few off-color peas or broken peas
may be in a can. The liquid may be a slightly
cloudy, light green.
U.S. Grade C canned peas tend to be mealy, and
do not taste as sweet as Grades A and B. They are
a dull pea-green and some blond or cream-colored
or broken peas may be in a can. The liquid may be
very cloudy with a starchy flavor.
Many canned peas are sorted for size-tiny,
small, medium small, medium large, large, or
extra large. Sizes are often shown on the label.


"Garden run" means no size separation has been
made. "Assorted sizes" means two adjacent sizes.
"Mixed sizes" means three or more sizes. "Sifted"
means that some sizes have been removed.
Frozen peas are not usually sized, although a
limited supply of excellent quality small round or
early June type peas is frozen.

Both green and red peppers are frozen whole,
with or without stems, as well as halved, sliced,
and diced. Frozen peppers are convenient to use
for stuffing or as garnish. Red and green peppers
are sometimes available canned too.

Processed white potatoes are available in many
forms, including canned, small whole or sliced
potatoes and french-fried shoe strings, vacuum-
packed and ready-to-eat. Frozen potatoes-in
many sizes and shapes-are available either fried
or unfried. The frozen unfried products are
ready-to-cook patties and whole, sliced, diced, or
shredded potatoes. Frozen french fried potatoes
include the ever-popular strips, sliced or diced
products, patties, and puffs. Most frozen french
fries for home use are designed for finishing in
the oven, though deep or shallow frying also
produces good results.
Top quality frozen french fries can range in
length from 2 to 3 inches-although the length
of the french fries in individual packages should
be fairly uniform. Top quality french fries also
have a uniform color (from light to medium brown
when "fried"). They are uniform in shape and
have few if any defects such as dark spots and
pieces of peel. Texture may vary a little from


brand to brand depending on the variety of potato
used by the packer, but french fries should be
tender, cooked throughout, and not soggy. Tradi-
tional french fries are moderately crisp on the
surface while shoestrings and dices may be quite
crisp throughout.

and other greens
Various leafy greens are available in canned
or frozen form. Among them are: spinach, col-
lards, kale, mustard, turnips (with or without
immature roots), poke salad, endive, and Swiss
chard. Spinach is processed in "whole leaf," cut
leaf, and chopped styles, sometimes with various
sauces and flavorings. The highest grade of these
products is produced from young, tender plants.

Canned and frozen summer squash is prepared
from small succulent squashes usually cut cross-
wise. Several varieties are available, including
the flavorful zucchini.
Canned and frozen winter squashes, very
similar to pumpkin, are usually cooked and ready
for use as a vegetable or in a pie filling.

Processed sweetpotatoes come in many forms.
Canned sweetpotatoes may be vacuum-packed
(without any liquid), in a sirup with or without
garnishes like mandarin oranges and pineapple,
or solid pack (tightly packed with little liquid).
They are canned whole, halved, mashed, or as
pieces. Frozen sweetpotatoes are available whole
or halved, baked, stuffed in a shell, sliced, french
cut, diced, mashed, and sometimes formed into



Tomatoes 11111 1111/111111 I II
3 1262 05609 3072
Canned tomatoes ared usually peeled and
packed in their own juice but they may have some
added tomato pulp or semi-solid paste. The
higher grades have a better color, usually more
whole than broken pieces, and are practically
free from peel, core, and other defects.
Many canned tomato specialties are also avail-
able. They include pear- or plum-shaped tomatoes
and slices, dices, and wedges which are firm and
have little juice. Many of these can be used in
salads. Other specialties are: stewed tomatoes,
which contain onion, pepper and other flavorful
ingredients; tomatoes and okra; tomatoes and hot
peppers; and crushed tomatoes.




HOW TC 3 1262 08582 9793


U.S. Grade A

U.S. Grades


Tops in tenderness,
flavor, appearance,
uniformity. The most
attractive servings
for special luncheon
or dinner.

Acceptable quality
for table use,
cooking, casseroles.

Buy the style that fits
your needs and
pocketbook. Dices,
short cuts, and
vegetables pieces
cost less than whole
or specially sized


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