Can You Eat Vegetables After They Freeze?

Can your vegetables really survive frost? Well... it depends! Keep reading to learn what happens to your vegetables after they freeze.

I was more or less a beginner when I created my large kitchen garden here at home. A few strawberry plants here and there, an attempt at growing snap peas along a trellis, a few tomato plants in buckets and a little dill and lettuce in a raised bed. I didn't get very much of it though, which is why I decided to play it safe and stick to growing in the summer season. Anything beyond just seemed impossible at that time.

Many of you who follow Sara's Kitchen Garden are beginners. Some of you might just have a bed or two in your yard or a few pots on the balcony. Or maybe, you read my articles because you dream about growing your own food in the future.


Read more: Winter-sowing in a cold frame


My friends Hanna and Rolf visited us in summer and left with a handful of seed packets, ready to start growing at the end of summer. Their goal was to harvest leafy greens later in fall.

And now, they finally get their reward! But the question is what happens next. I recently shared a few pictures of my frosty garden and a lot of people wanted to know what happens to the vegetables after they freeze. Can we still eat them?



The answer is yes! All the vegetables in the garden are edible as long as they look nice and still smell fresh. Some of them lose some flavor and vitality after a night or two of frost. They should however do better as soon as it gets a little warmer outside. The hardier vegetables that can deal with several days of freezing temperatures are for example: lettuce, spinach, New Zealand spinach, beets, beet leaves, carrots, potatoes, black salsify, parsnips, celery root, leek, cabbage, kale, broccoli, napa cabbage, parsley, lamb's lettuce and purslane. There are more examples  out there though!

Some vegetables get a little bitter in fall. For example some lettuce varieties. The combination of too little light, a lack of water and perhaps the generally difficult time of the year affects the flavor. Some greens are more sensitive than others of course. And then we have to consider how different the gardeners and their palates are. I for one can appreciate a slightly more bitter lettuce on my sandwiches while my kids prefer something different.


More about growing in a colder climate: Trine's vegetable garden in Lofoten, Norway


Vegetables after they freeze, a beautiful green lamb's lettuce plant.

Can you really eat the vegetables after they freeze? Well, this frozen lamb's lettuce just thawed and it's in mint condition!


The most important thing with fall gardening is to always finish the vegetables. We can sometimes leave them too long because we want to save them for later. But then, later might not come and then we never get to eat them. So, make sure to eat them all while you can!

I still have plenty of vegetables in my beds, mainly because I know which of them can take the dropping temperature. That's why I'm trying to sort out which vegetables we should eat now and which ones can stay in the ground a bit longer. Bok choy and lettuce might get damaged with time, so we eat them first. Root vegetables and hardy cabbage varieties can stay a bit longer!
/Sara Bäckmo

26. November 2020

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