On freezing fruits

P1000165Nothing like a little O.C.D. with your project to get you wound up!

SO:  it’s fruit season in this hemisphere:  gotta make hay while that sun shines!  The non-fresh-fruit season is entirely too long in my humble opinion.  Freezing is the best way to preserve any fruit’s nutrients if you can’t eat it fresh. But like anything, freezing has an expiration date:  it is best to eat all frozen fruit within six months of freezing it.

We *love* fruit smoothies around here.  In point of fact, smoothies are the primary way we eat our fruit in the off-season.  I make our own kefir and yogurt, and it’s very easy to just run downstairs with the blender and grab a handful of frozen berries to whiz up for a treat.

Strawberries, cranberries and blueberries freeze wonderfully “dry,” that is, by themselves.  Cherries do too but one should pit them beforehand as trying to do it afterward leads to a wad of cherry mush in your hand.  The best way to handle these berries  is to get fruit at its absolute height of freshness, wash, stem and sort them and place them on cookie sheets.   As you can see one can go a little nutty with the sorting part.  Stick them in the freezer until hard then bag them up, squeezing as much air out of the bags as possible.  You’re now able to open the bags at will this winter and grab what you need, leaving the rest behind.

I also slice fruits like peaches and nectarines and strawberries and coat them with a bit of honey before bagging them up.  You could also cover sliced fruit with a bit of sugar or superfine sugar.  Coating them with a sweetener tends to help them retain their color and their flavor.  Making a syrup of one part honey to four parts hot water also works well:  the fruit is stored “wet” this way and keeps most of its flavor and nutrients intact.  And indeed one can freeze mashed or pulped fruit “wet” too, without sugar.

You know, most thawed fruit is but a pale simulacrum of its fresh self, so for the most part all my frozen fruit ends up in smoothies or cooked items.  I also treat freezing as a form of suspended animation if I have a huge harvest (like, the 30 pounds of cherries from last Saturday) that I can’t get to immediately:  pulling out the bag to make jam or baked goods is a true time-saver.  And I am always looking for more time….

15 responses to “On freezing fruits

  1. We froze peaches last year. They were very YUM on ice cream. Since we just got an ice cream maker, we’re going to try flavored ice cream now. Double Yum!

    I like the ‘freeze them individually’ idea. I may try that some this year.

  2. I love frozen fruit, and completely agree that the winter is too long without the taste of a strawberry or blueberry. This past winter I had to go only on apples, pears, cranberries, and the bit of fruit I had stored. But I am well into the freezing this year – last winter was a good lesson!

    Interesting you mentioned about the cherries – whenever I freeze them I just do so whole. Then, when its time to eat, I just take a bite and spit out the seed as I would were the cherries fresh. The frozen cherries taste sweeter than candy, and my parents also love them. I guess this wouldn’t work if the cherries are destined for pie, however 🙂 I’ve never frozen individually (lazy maybe?) but haven’t had a problem just putting the clean strawberries in a freezing bag (the vaccuum kind) and then just using as needed – they don’t stick and I haven’t had freezer burn. This is from when I just froze randomly though, not as a way of food storage, so maybe there is a difference long term?

  3. Sounds just like our house–if it’s breakfast, it must be smoothie time. We froze tons of raspberries this year. Blueberries next up.

  4. As we leave the house to get berries today, I’m already thinking about storing them in the freezer. We put every flat storing device to work to freeze them like you’re showing, then bag them up. I just used the last of last year’s ollalieberries in a galette — but it’s not as good as fresh, of course!

  5. Wow! Thirty pounds of cherries! That’s wonderful! I froze 10 quarts of nectarines last month and am gearing up for peaches soon. Do you have a basic recipe for smoothies, El? I’m no good at throwing together a few things. I need sort of exact measurements or ingredients. Thanks.

  6. Gee, I need a freezer! Really, I do!

    That being said, I processed 9 pints of strawberry jam this morning…I am so proud of myself! It looks great and I sure hope it sets up.

    I agree the fresh fruit season is crazy-short. Canning and freezing are the only way to go. I guess drying fruit is OK, too. I’ll have to try that next.

  7. Your idea of freezing is much better than trying to make jam. I hate to see the fresh berries go, but making jam requires so much sugar that I lose heart. I’ve got too many cherries just now, so I’ll take your advice about pitting THEN freezing. I couldn’t live without my cherry pitter.

    • I laughed, WS, at your post today because MY stupid last batch of strawberry jam barely set too. Sigh. The process to reset it is rather onerous, requiring a test batch etc. and I am inclined to say “chuck it” but then again I am outnumbered in my love of this jam so I might just have to. But really: are you making jams that kooky, ingredients-wise? As weird as I got last year was roasted garlic jelly. But do try Pomona pectin, it sets fairly well except that it’s really freaking hard to find.

  8. Mmmm..peaches and cherries and raspberries, oh my! All we’ve had so far is strawberries and I didn’t get enough to jam them (oh, well I got the sour cherries too, but the tree is too young to make much bounty). My 3-year-old blueberry bushes are looking good but I don’t think I’ll get enough of those to preserve, either – my son is a worse pest than the bluejays for eating them right off the bush.

    I’ve been doing peaches by slicing them and simmering in apple juice before freezing. I guess you lose some of the nutrients that way, but it’s a low-sugar method of preserving so that’s a tradeoff. I don’t usually have help with the peeling and slicing so it helps tp “beat the clock” with browning – I get a pile of ’em in the pot and let them simmer while I peel and slice some more. The texture is like canned peaches, but it seems like less effort than canning, to me. I put them in my son’s yogurt for breakfast, or just eat them up as is 🙂

  9. same here… I am finishing the last bag of frozen peaches, just as peach season is about to start. (I just wash, pit & halve). Although it’s not going to be a good year like last year – so maybe I won’t freeze 1 1/2 bushel like last year. But it’s a good year for blueberries. Was not so good for cherries either. We’ll see about other berries (black, rasp & wine for me). And those I freeze on cooki sheet before dumping them into a bag. It’s wonerful to have all those falvorfl fruit we=hen they are no longer in season.

  10. Yum, I love frozen berries. I have never tried the honey, but I sure will. Now if the weather would cooperate, the strawberries are molding on the vine and won’t ripen….Rain for the past 2 weeks….

    It would be nice to have Some to freeze!


  11. ok, since you didn’t post today (07/02/09) I’ll have to do this here. Humm along now folks!

    HB to El…

    I hope you have a wonderful day!

  12. Jules you are reminding me that my dear dad made peach icecream every summer when we were kids. Sigh! That stuff was dreamy, especially since he got the cream from a dairy farmer he knew. I miss my dad: he’d probably think I was nuts doing what I am doing, but he’d still think it was pretty cool. He’d probably wonder why I haven’t tried to make peach icecream yet though! DO try to freeze individually. Sometimes you don’t need to take the step of the cookie sheet but if your fruit is a little bit mushy or wet it’ll clump together in the bag. And THANK YOU for the birthday wishes! I spent it in the gardens, here and at school.

    MC, I am not sure what to attribute your luck to with regards to your fruit freezing! I do know fruit is a bit more forgiving, except maybe squishy berries like raspberries and blackberries. Glad to hear you’re on your way to having a very fruity freezer this year though. It’s certainly a learning process, and it’s one of the reasons I tend to go a little nutty when planting onions and garlic: running out sure makes for some bland food.

    Ed, this is the year we’re doing raspberries too. They are one of my least favorite things to pick but one must roll with it, you know? Glad to hear you’re smoothie fans too. It’s a decent habit to get into, especially if you don’t sweeten them.

    Stef, ollalieberries? Goodness I have never heard of them. Glad to know! And gallettes are great aren’t they? So no-fuss, and kids can get into it too.

    Oh Jeri, I wish I had an exact recipe for you for the smoothies, but I remain a seat-of-my-pants kind of girl in most cooking, even noncooking like smoothies. I will say though that a taste test is in order before pouring it into glasses. If it’s too nonsweet I usually throw some maple syrup in with it to smooth out the edges. I can’t wait for nectarine/peach season! Soon, ever so soon.

    Petunia, congrats on the jam, girl!! Yes, fruit-drying is one of the last horizons I must traverse as well…and I am going there, quickly. But yeah, it makes sense to take advantage of all this stuff now. No sense shipping it in from Chile (no disrespect to Chileans, it’s just, you know, a bit far from Michigan).

    WS I do here admit that the first time I made jam all that sugar did stop my heart for a minute. Ah well. Freezer jam requires less, and just plain frozen fruit spread none. Pick your poison, me, I like sugar.

    Karen, you are so right in that canning peaches is a bit of a labor of love. I remember quite well canning peaches while pregnant in my Minneapolis kitchen: we’d just come back from visiting my mom here, cooler full of good sweet peaches, and Minneapolis as you may or may not know is wicked hot in the summer! So canning them was very uncomfortable, but…tasty! Good golly canned peaches are little slices of nirvana. So your little method sounds quite do-able, and maybe a lot less sweaty than having boiling pots on the stove. But hey aren’t you glad you’re raising a fruit-lover?

    Sylvie, sounds like me. Just a bit more stuff in the freezer! But actually our freezers are usually pretty full, sigh, so most of the fruit requires other treatment. You know I haven’t had as good luck with freezing peaches; they turned out pretty blah. But canning! Yum. And last year I put away a TON of peach salsa! That was mighty tasty.

    Karyn, boy that sounded like us three weeks ago, then we got a heatwave and not a drip has dropped! Can’t quite figure out if this year is going to just stink all around for most growing things. The cherries ripened a week early and did a lot of splitting, poor things, due to all that rain. And mushy too. But yeah, I hope it dries out for you, but not TOO dry, you know? That’s a nightmare in itself.

    Ah Jules! Thanks for remembering…

  13. I froze strawberries about three weeks ago and didn’t let them dry before putting them into freezer bags. Do you think they’ll still make great smoothies? I can see frost on them 😦 Will they last?

    • Hi Lindsay: I would say they’re fine if they weren’t mushy when you froze them. Try to keep them in the coldest part of the freezer; a little frost won’t hurt them, unlike on meat or whatever. And yeah I freeze them on the trays so I can pull them out of their bags a few at a time. Yours might come out in a clump but there are worse things!

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