Absolutely. Immediately after they’re picked, our vegetables go from the field to the factory, where they are heated in no time. By blanching the vegetables, we deactivate the enzymes that decompose vitamin C and other nutrients and cause flavour and colour changes (e.g. enzymes cause apples to turn brown once they’re sliced). The vegetables are then cooled and frozen very quickly. In this way, we manage to seal in their nutrients and minerals. ‘Fresh’ vegetables or fruit bought in the supermarket have often travelled a long way before they reach the shop. Moreover, the odds are that you will also keep them in your refrigerator for a while, before you eat them. Consequently, a lot of essential nutrients are lost.
Pinguin does not use additives, preservatives, artificial colours or flavours: our vegetables and fruit are frozen just as they are, completely natural. As the freezing is done so fast, the cell structure of the vegetables is optimally preserved, so that only few nutrients get lost during thawing and preparing the food. In spite of the absence of preservatives, our frozen vegetables and fruit can be conserved for an average of two years.
Pinguin freezes its vegetables in a very special way, called ‘individually quick frozen (IQF)’, which is not the same as simply freezing. IQF freezing is an advanced industrial process. The temperature in the core of the vegetables decreases so quickly that the cell structure and the flavour of the vegetables remain intact. If you freeze your vegetables at home, the temperature will drop much slower, thereby inducing ice crystals to form that damage the cell structure, so that nutrients are lost and the vegetables lose their crispness.
Freezing is a completely natural method to conserve vegetables. By freezing fresh vegetables, you stop any bacteria taking hold in the product, so that the product will keep longer. When you take the food out of the freezer, the bacteria will reproduce rapidly. If you refreeze the defrosted product, the bacteria will stop multiplying but they’re not killed. That means that when you thaw the vegetables or fruit once more, the bacteria will multiply even quicker. Moreover, refreezing also reduces the product’s taste and texture. Of course, this does not mean that a product that has thawed slightly during transport from the shop to home would be unsafe. As long as the temperature does not exceed 6°C, it is still safe to consume your vegetables.
Pinguin vegetables are cultivated in the most fertile regions of Europe. In Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Poland and Hungary, we manage a total of 11 production plants, which are located close to the fields. The vegetable and fruit types that we don’t cultivate ourselves, such as exotic fruit, are cultivated in specific regions, where we work with carefully selected local partners.
Our vegetables and fruit meet the highest quality standards. To guarantee that quality, our agronomists work together with our farmers to select the best soils in the most suitable regions, based on their knowledge of the soil types, the crops, the climate, etc.
The fruit/vegetables are harvested just when they are ripe, and then shipped to the processing plants within the first few hours. After a series of visual and quality checks, they are washed, peeled and cut. Most vegetables are blanched briefly after that, i.e. they are immersed in water to preserve their nutrients and other properties. Once blanched, the vegetables/fruit are cooled and conveyed to the ‘flow-freezer’. There, an air current of -30°C is blown onto the vegetables to cool them down to a temperature -18°C in just a few minutes.
We clean our vegetables and fruit very thoroughly. As soon as the food enters the processing plant, all the sand, soil, stones, grit and any insects are removed. During production our vegetables go through several cleaning stages, which are followed by visual inspections. We use high-tech systems (infra-red, lasers, magnet and metal detector) to prevent foreign material from entering our products during production or during the packaging stage.
There is no point in filling up on soup alone. Soup is easy to digest, which means that if you replace your main meal by soup only, you’ll feel hungry again after an hour or so. As such, not an interesting option if you wish to reduce the amount of food you eat.
However, soup is ideal to stop that niggling feeling before it’s really time for lunch or dinner. By doing so, you will indeed eat less. Soup also is great as a snack, supplying extra water, fibres, vitamins and minerals.
Tip from our nutritionist Angélique Slembrouck.