Fruity Success – The Do’s and Don’ts of Freezing Fruit
Everyone loves fruit. Well, not my husband, but everyone else loves fruit. We like to purchase ours by the flat and freeze it. It is used for morning smoothies throughout the year. We use it in our water in place of ice on a hot day. We freeze it to make jam, and do the cooking on our own time frame (when it’s not too hot to crank up the kitchen). Luckily it is just about the time of year when we can get all that wonderful fruit for a good price.
Hopefully this inspires you to go out and buy a box of “something fruity” and spend time putting up fruit.
The Do’s & Don’ts of Freezing Fruit
- // DO – buy local whenever possible. Can you get it vine ripened? Even better.
- // DO- freeze fruit when it is ripe, but not soft or mushy.
- // DO – wash, sort, trim and pat dry.
- // DO – consider a vinegar wash if you cannot obtain organic produce.
- // DO – pack in suitable containers for maximum storage time.
- // DO – grow your own when you can.
- // DON’T – bother to freeze fruit that is past it’s ripeness, unripe or is bruised.
- // DON’T – bother peeling your fruit if you are going to use it for smoothies. That peel is good for you!
- // DON’T – add additional sugar before you freeze fruit. It will be much more versatile in recipes without sugar.
Methods of Freezing – To Pack or Not to Pack
There are four basic methods of packing fruit for freezing –
- // Sugar Pack
- // Syrup Pack
- // Unsweetened Pack
- // Dry Pack
Juicy fruits and those that will be used for pies are often packed in sugar. If you know you will use it for that purpose, go ahead and add the sugar before freezing. Use about one cup of sugar per three pounds of fruit. When I pack berries, peaches, or apples for future pies I always use as little sugar as possible. I’ve learned that it’s better to add sugar (or other sweeteners) later. That gives you the option of using them for another purpose besides pies.
Syrup pack is often used for fruits that will be served uncooked. It preserves fruit that have a firm texture, like pears or apples. Prepare a light syrup using 4 cups of water to 2 cups of sugar or 3 cups of water to 1 cup of honey. Clean and dry the fruit. Place it in a freezer container and pour the syrup to completely cover. Make sure there is headroom for expansion.
Any fruit can be frozen unsweetened, without sugar. Be aware that the texture may be softer than if you choose to pack with it. This is my preferred method, I think it gives me more versatility for future uses. If you are watching your sugar content, the unsweetened pack may be for you.
Unsweetened fruit can be packaged in water, unsweetened juice or pectin syrup. These fruits tend to freeze harder and take longer to thaw. Make a pectin syrup by combining 1 box powdered pectin with 2 3/4 cups water. Heat the pectin and 1 cup water to boiling and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the remaining water. Cool. Makes 3 cups of moderately thick syrup. Thin as desired.
- // Apples and Pears need to be cored, peeled, (your preference) or sliced and then tossed with a bit of lemon juice, ascorbic acid or cider vinegar to keep them from browning.
- // Apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines should be halved or sliced and pitted, large ones can be quartered, if you like. Peeling may or may not be necessary depending on your future use.
- // Blackberries, blueberries, marionberries and raspberries can be left whole
- // Cherries will be easier to use later if you pit them now.
- // Bananas can be pureed with 1 tbsp of lemon per cup. Freeze them whole if you will be using within a month.
- // Melons can be scooped into bite size balls or cut into cubes or slices.
- // Grapes should be washed and have the seeds removed. Pack dry or in a syrup made from frozen concentrate lemonade (6 oz) and water (12 oz)
- // Strawberries should be washed and hulled. They can be cut in halves or quarters, or frozen whole.
- // Pineapple should be peeled, cored and cut. Juice will naturally accumulate. Sugar is not necessary.
Follow these directions for freezing berries without syrup, water or sugar. They can be used for any fruit that you want to dry pack (no sugar or syrup added) Benefit: individually frozen pieces let you easily take and use only what you need.
Choose containers that are durable and leak proof and that will not crack at low temperatures. Some excellent choices – wide mouth glass jars, rigid plastic containers with tight fitting lids (square containers take up less space), and plastic bags made especially for freezing. Sorry, a sandwich bag just won’t do.
Label your contents with the date processed, method of preservation, and contents. IE: Apples (7/3/15) light syrup
There are excellent online resources from several extension offices for further reading. These make an excellent addition to your Emergency Preparedness Reference Library.
- // University of Georgia – Preserving Food: Freezing Fruit
- // Oregon State University – Freezing Fruits and Vegetables
- // New Mexico State University – Freezing Fruit Basics
Consider a few good books to help with your food preservation endeavors. Here are a few of my favorites, which you can purchase from Amazon through my affiliate link.. Thanks for supporting PreparednessMama!