LSU AgCenter Horticulturist Explains Symptoms of Freeze- and Cold-damaged Vegetables

Thomas J. Koske  |  4/21/2005 9:31:05 PM

News You Can Use For January 2004

With winter here, garden produce may not look so good. The cold may bring out off-colors because of a different concentration of pigments in the plants, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske.

The off-colors should not be a problem for home consumption, however, the horticulturist assures.

Surface damage from a freeze is obvious, but you might not notice other cold damage until you cut up the produce and see internal breakdown or disorders.

Koske lists some common vegetable freeze symptoms:

• Beets have external or internal water soaking and blackening.

• Broccoli and cauliflower’s youngest florets on the heads turn brown and smell strong.

• Cabbage and lettuce leaves are water soaked.

• Carrots blister or develop long cracks; interior flesh darkens and becomes water soaked.

• Frozen onion and garlic cloves become water soaked and gray when thawed.

• Peppers have soft spots, pitting, shriveling or water-soaked fruit wall.

• Radishes develop translucent areas and soften or shrivel.

• Sweet potatoes show an internal discolored ring or water-soaked skin areas.

• Frozen tomatoes have soft, water-soaked areas when thawed.

• Turnip roots have small, water-soaked pits that may appear tan. A strong turnip smell may develop.

Koske says vegetables more susceptible to chilling and freeze damage are snap beans, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, okra, peppers, potatoes (Irish and sweet), summer squash, strawberries and tomatoes. Those that can be kept in cold storage for a longer time include beets, brussels sprouts, cabbages, kale, kohlrabi and most root crops.

For more information on freezing produce, check the LSU AgCenter’s Web site under subjects/Food & Health or call your local parish AgCenter Extension office for advice.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/

Source: Tom Koske (225) 578-2222, or tkoske@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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