Summer is officially over and that means it’s only a matter of time before your favorite summer fruits are no longer available. Now if say, you have lots of in-season fruits in the pantry, how do you extend their freshness? Can you freeze fruits?
You’d be surprised at how easy fruits keep well in the freezer. Of course, fruits come in different varieties, some freeze better than others. The general rule is that denser, hardier fruits tend to keep better in the freezer than softer fruits. Usually, fresh and ripe fruits have a shelf life of a week or two. But when kept in the freezer, fruits will keep for months, even a full year if the temperature is kept at a stable 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Before we go ahead with the freezing guide, let’s talk about the important factors you need to consider before freezing fruits. If you are buying fruits for freezing, always choose fresh fruits that are at their peak of freshness. Freezing will stop half-ripened fruits from fully ripening and this will affect the overall taste and texture of the produce. In addition, fresh fruits have to be frozen quickly so the freshness is locked in. Keep the temperature steady or your frozen fruits will turn to mush.
It’s also worth noting that moisture exposure will ruin the taste and texture of the frozen fruits. As such, packing the fruits prior to freezing is a critical step. Freezing fruits isn’t just about sticking a bag of it in the freezer. Below is the guide on how can you freeze fruits:
How to Freeze Fruits?
Prepping the fruits prior to freezing is a critical step in preserving the natural flavors and texture of the fruits. There are different techniques to consider when prepping fresh fruits for freezing:
Flash freezing involves “shocking” or exposing the fruits to extremely low temperature to lock in the freshness. Delicate fruits – such as berries, pears, melons, and grapes – tend to go mushy when they are not flash-frozen before being frozen. By flash freezing the fruits, delicate fruits retain their crisp texture and distinct flavors.
To flash freeze fruits, wash and trim the fruits. Remove the pits, peel or cut the fruits if needed. Lay the fruits on a parchment-lined baking tray. Make sure the fruit pieces are not touching each other so they won’t clump together. Stick the baking tray in the freezer and let sit for 1 hour or until the fruits are frozen solid.
While waiting for the fruits to freeze, prepare several resealable plastic bags. After an hour, take the baking tray out of the freezer and gently place the fruits in the plastic bag. Give the bag a squeeze to remove the air before sealing. Write the storage date with a marker then stick in the freezer.
Preserving in Sugar Syrup
Some fruits tend to oxidize or discolor after they have been cut. These fruits include pears, apples, bananas, and peaches. An enzyme – called polyphenol oxidase or tyrosinase – triggers a bioreaction that causes fruits to darken. For these fruits, it’s best to preserve them in sugar or syrup prior to freezing. Flash freezing the fruits won’t stop the fruits from oxidizing once they’ve been defrosted. By preserving the fruits in syrup, the fruits will retain their natural color, flavor, and consistency.
To preserve fruits in syrup prior to freezing, wash the fruits in cold water. Do the cleaning in small batches because the fruits must not discolor before the process is completed! Do not slice or cut the fruits, do this later. Once the fruits are clean, set aside.
Next, you need to prepare the syrup. Dissolve heaps of sugar in lukewarm water, mixing continuously until the solution is clear. In terms of the syrup’s thickness, this will depend on your preference. To make thin syrup, mix one part sugar to three parts water. For a syrup with medium thickness, mix one part sugar with two parts water. For goopy syrup, mix equal parts water and sugar.
Pour the sugar and water solution into a deep skillet, simmering on medium heat until the solution thickens. Once the solution is thickened, it’s ready to be used.
Go back to your washed fruits and trim, de-core, pit, peel or slice the produce as you please. Put the fruits in a freezer-safe, airtight container. Do not fill the container completely; you need to make room for the syrup. Once you’re ready, pour the syrup into the container, making sure all fruits are covered by it. Leave about an inch or two of space so the syrup has room to expand as it freezes. Seal with the airtight lid, write the storage date, and then stick in the freezer.
A variation of this technique involves adding the fresh fruits directly in the pot of boiling syrup. You won’t cook the fruits through, just add them as soon as the syrup has thickened. Then, just pour everything in an airtight container, seal, write the storage date then stick in the freezer.
This is a simple technique that’s best used on sliced peaches, strawberries, plums, cherries as well as de-seeded grapes. Start by washing, trimming, peeling or de-seeding the fruits. Then, place the fruit bits in a shallow pan. Sprinkle sugar on the fruits, enough to cover every bit. Mix the fruits gently until the fruit juice has been drawn out and the sugar dissolved completely. When you’re done, you are ready for packing.
Preparing the Fruits for Freezing
This is a general guide on how to freeze most types of fresh fruits.
Start by sorting the fresh fruits and picking the ones that are at the peak of freshness. Wash the fruits in cold water, removing bits and dirt. Once the fruits are clean, dry well with paper towel. At this point, you can slice, dice, de-pit, de-core, de-seed, or peel the fruits as you please. Carve away bruises, gashes, or undesirable spots while you’re at it.
Once the fruits are ready, you can flash-freeze, preserve the fruits in syrup or use the sugar pack technique to prep the product. If you’re working with fruits that oxidize, do not cut or slice the fruits right away. If you’re using simple syrup, do the syrup before cutting the fruits. Otherwise, the fruits will discolor before you have the chance to complete the process.
When you are done flash freezing, preserving in syrup or using the sugar pack technique, you are ready to pack the fruits for freezing.
Packing the Fruits for Freezing
You can use a rigid plastic container with an airtight lid, a freezer jar, or resealable plastic bags to pack the fruits. Just place the fruits in your preferred container and seal. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.
If you used syrup to preserve the fruits, cover the container with cling wrap before closing the lid. This way, the syrup won’t leak. We do not recommend using mason jars or glass jars because the material will explode in freezing temperature.
Guidelines for Freezing Specific Fruits
Love nectarines? You can freeze nectarines easily, check out this guide for the steps how!
Limes are plentiful in the summer so if you want to preserve this citrusy fruit all year round, check out this guide.
Kiwi is a delicate fruit that bruises easily so it should be frozen carefully. Here’s the right way to freeze kiwi fruit.
Figs are such versatile fruits, you can’t have enough of it. Learn how to freeze figs properly with this guide.
How to Defrost Frozen Fruits?
Defrosting frozen fruits is easy, just transfer the container from the freezer to the fridge. Leave the frozen fruits to thaw slowly overnight. You want to defrost the fruits slowly to retain the texture and flavor of the produce. When the fruits have thawed completely, it’s ready to be eaten or prepared according to the recipe.
As you can see, there are so many techniques to consider when freezing different types of fruits. We hope that this guide has been helpful to you. Now that you know how can you freeze fruits, you can extend the freshness of your favorite seasonal fruits for months!