Buying fruits in bulk when they are in season and then freezing them is a great way to save money on groceries (when they’re at their lowest price), this also lets you enjoy your favorite fruits year round.
Freezing fruits is a method of food preservation that is much quicker than canning and no fancy or expensive kitchen gadgets are required. The majority of fruits freeze satisfactorily and it’s a simple task to accomplish.
Here’s my guide for freezing fruits, lots of tips, charts and information provided (including how to freeze many different varieties of fruit).
Guide To Freezing Fruit
Freezing will not make poor products over into good ones, so select produce that is of good quality and is at the proper degree of maturity for good eating. For best results, prepare and freeze fruits immediately after harvesting or bringing home from the store.
In general, clean and cut up fruits as for eating or cooking. Prepare and pack fruits quickly and carefully, working with only enough fruits to fill 3 or 4 containers at a time to avoid loss of color, flavor and appearance.
Packing Fruit For Freezer Storage:
The intended use of the frozen fruit determines the type of pack, whether it be dry, sugar or syrup pack.
- Dry Pack: No sugar is added. This method is for those fruits which can be frozen without any preparation other than washing, draining, discarding imperfect ones and packing (e.g. blueberries, cranberries, currants, gooseberries, rhubarb). Tip: Many fruits and berries can be frozen on trays first before packaging for freezing. Place prepared fruit on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer to containers or bags then store in freezer.
- Sugar Pack: Dry sugar is added. Sprinkle sugar over the fruit, mix gently then allow fruit to stand for approximately 15 minutes (this draws out the juice and dissolves the sugar). It’s also fine to freeze immediately after sugar is added to fruit. Generally, 1/2 to 2/3 cups of sugar per quart of fruit is sufficient. Fruit pieces can also be frozen on trays first before packaging (sprinkle with sugar before freezing).
- Syrup Pack: Sugar and water are boiled to make a syrup, which is cooled and added to the fruit. Choose a syrup with a strength best suited to tartness of the fruit (syrup recipe chart is below). Slice or cut fruits directly into container. Leave berries whole, if desired. Add just enough syrup to cover fruit: Approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup of syrup is needed for 1 1/2 cups of sliced fruit or berries; Approximately 3/4 to 1 cup of syrup is needed for halved fruit. Be sure that the syrup covers fruit completely and that headspace is left for expansion.
- Peeling Fruit: You may wish to peel fruit before freezing, an easy way to do that is to bring water to a boil then submerge the fruit in the water for about 45 seconds. Remove fruit and plunge into a sink full of ice cold water. Skins will come right off!
- Overripe Fruit: Try freezing these as purees, they can be used as dessert toppings and in other tasty ways. Fill icecube trays with puree then freeze. Once frozen, pop them out, put them in a freezer bag and store in the freezer. Take out a cube of fruit puree as needed.
Note: Sugar helps fruit keep its flavor, color and shape, but it is not necessary to prevent spoilage. The amount of sugar or syrup to use depends on the sweetness of the fruit and on individual taste.
Syrup Recipe Chart
To Make Syrup: Add sugar to boiling water and stir until dissolved. Chill before using.
|TYPE OF SYRUP||% SYRUP||SUGAR||WATER||YIELD|
|Very Light||20%||1 1/4 cups||5 1/2 cups||6 cups|
|Light||30%||2 1/4 cups||5 1/4 cups||6 1/2 cups|
|Medium||40%||3 1/4 cups||5 cups||7 cups|
|Heavy||50%||4 1/4 cups||4 1/4 cups||7 cups|
A 40% syrup is used for most fruits. Use a lighter syrup for mild flavored fruits and a heavier syrup for very sour fruits.
Syrup Tip: Up to one quarter of sugar may be replaced with an equal quantity of honey or corn syrup (use mild-flavored honey or white corn syrup for bland or light-colored fruits).
To Prevent Discoloration Of Fruits
Light colored fruits will likely darken when thawed, treating them with a bit of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) will prevent this. Follow the package directions or you can use this as a guide:
Syrup Pack: Add 1/4 teaspoon powdered or crystalline ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) to 4 cups cold syrup and stir to dissolve.
Dry Sugar Pack: Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid in 2 tablespoons cold water per 2 cups of prepared fruit; sprinkle over fruit and mix gently.
Citric acid or lemon juice can be used to help prevent fruit from darkening, but they aren’t as effective as ascorbic acid .
Preparation Of Fruits For Freezing
|Apples||Wash, pare, core, cut into slices.||Sugar Pack; Syrup Pack|
|Apricots||Wash, pit, cut in halves or quarters (can also be left whole). Peel if desired.||Sugar Pack; Syrup Pack|
|Blackberries||Rinse in cold water and sort.||Sugar Pack|
|Blueberries||Sort out imperfect berries, wash, stem and drain.||Dry Pack; Sugar Pack|
|Cantaloupe||Peel and cube.||Dry Pack; Syrup Pack|
|Cherries (Sour)||Wash and pit.||Sugar Pack; Syrup Pack|
|Cranberries||Wash and stem.||Dry Pack|
|Currants (Black or Red)||Wash and stem.||Sugar Pack|
|Fruit Salad||Use any combination of fruit.||Syrup Pack|
|Gooseberries||Stem, wash, crush slightly.||Sugar Pack|
|Grapes||Stem and wash.||Syrup Pack|
|Loganberries||Rinse in cold water and sort.||Sugar Pack|
|Peaches||Peel, pit and slice. Can be skinned first.||Sugar Pack; Syrup Pack|
|Pears||Peel, core, quarter.||Syrup Pack|
|Pineapple||Peel, remove core, slice or dice.||Syrup Pack|
|Plums||Wash, pit and cut in halves.||Sugar Pack; Syrup Pack|
|Raspberries||Rinse in cold water and sort.||Sugar Pack; Syrup Pack|
|Rhubarb||Wash & cut into 1? lengths.||Dry Pack; Sugar Pack|
|Strawberries||Wash in cold water. Hull, slice or leave whole.||Sugar Pack; Syrup Pack|
*Choose a single method of packing where there is more than one option
Packaging Tips For Freezing:
- Use only moisture and vapor proof freezer containers or bags to prevent freezer burn and loss of flavor. Use containers when freezing fruits in syrup, freezer bags are great for dry or sugar pack.
- Account for food expansion, leave 1/2? per pint or 1? per quart headspace in containers when packing fruits in syrup. If the containers you are using have a narrow top, you’ll need to increase the headspace to accommodate.
- When using freezer bags, squeeze as much air as possible from the bags before sealing.
- To keep fruit pieces submerged in the syrup (if they float above it they will likely darken), crumple a piece of parchment paper, waxed paper or foil and place on top of fruit before sealing container.
- Make sure to label and date your packages before freezing. Another good idea is to mark the amount of sugar used so you’ll know the amount of sugar to adjust when using fruit in recipes.
How To Thaw Frozen Fruits
- Put on open shelf of refrigerator. A one-pound package will thaw in about 6 hours.
- Place package on kitchen counter. One pound will thaw in about three hours.
- If the package is watertight, it can be thawed in running cold water in 40 minutes.
- Watertight package of fruit can be thawed in running lukewarm water in about 20 minutes.
- Use fruits immediately once thawed.
- For best results, frozen fruits should be used within the year.
How To Use Fruits From The Freezer
Frozen fruits can be used as you would any sweetened fresh fruit, just as they come from the package-Jams, jellies and fruit pies turn out lovely when using frozen fruits. When using the fruit in recipes, remember to allow for the sugar added at time of freezing.
No matter how they are used, do not remove fruits from their cartons until ready to use them. All fruits keep their fresh-fruit flavor and color only a short time after opening and some fruits, such as peaches, darken quickly when exposed to the air.