Freezing fruit at the peak of freshness allows you to enjoy the best tasting, most nutrition-packed fruit year round. Preserve a little bit of summer for those cold winter months when it’s hard to buy fresh, delicious produce. It’s easy to do and doesn't require any special equipment.
What you’ll need:
- Zipper storage bags or containers
- Cooking sheets
- Parchment paper, wax paper or foil
- Vacuum sealer (optional)
- Straws (optional)
First, select the fruit you’re going to use, and prepare it for freezing. You’ll want to freeze it in the way that you will eat it or use it in a recipe. Wash and pat dry the fruit (don’t allow the fruit to soak in water or it will lose flavor and nutrients). Then follow our suggested guidelines. While freezing vegetables often requires an extra step of “blanching,” this step is unnecessary for fruit.
Raspberries, blueberries and blackberries: No further prep is needed.
Cherries: Remove stems and pits if desired.
Nectarines, peaches and plums: Remove pits, cut into sixths.
Apricots: Remove pits, cut in halves or quarters.
Rhubarb: Trim woody ends, cut into 1-inch pieces.
Strawberries: Remove stem and hull, cut large ones in half.
Apples and pears: Core and peel, then slice or cut in quarters. Toss with lemon juice or cider vinegar to keep them from browning.
Melons: Cut into cubes or slices, or scoop into bite-size balls.
For better flavor, texture and color, you can pack soft fruits such as peaches, strawberries and plums with sugar. Toss 4-5 cups of fruit with 1 cup of sugar and allow to stand 15 minutes before freezing. Sugar is not necessary to preserve the fruit, however, so those watching their sugar intake can omit this step.
Spread your prepared fruit in a single layer on a lined cooking sheet. You can use parchment paper, wax paper or aluminum foil to line the sheet. Then freeze until the fruit is solid. You can leave the fruit uncovered in the freezer like this overnight if you desire but not more than one night. This process is known as “flash freezing.” By freezing the individual pieces of fruit separately (spread out on a cooking sheet), you prevent the fruit from sticking together in the freezing process, which makes it easier to use later.
Once solid, pack fruit in quart- or gallon-sized freezer bags or other storage containers. When air comes in contact with frozen fruit or vegetables, it can alter the taste, so leave as little air as possible in the bag. If you have a vacuum sealer, you can use it to suck the air out and seal the bags. Otherwise, just squeeze out as much as you can, or use a straw to suck the additional air out of the bag. Fruit is best frozen at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler.
You can keep fruit in the freezer for up to a year if you don’t open the freezer frequently. For a freezer that is frequently opened, store fruit for up to 6 to 8 months. For best results, thaw fruit in the refrigerator or in cold water. To thaw in cold water, leave the fruit in the sealed package and submerge the entire packaged under cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes. If necessary, you can thaw fruit in the microwave at a low temperature, but it can lead to uneven results. For the best texture, serve fruit just as the ice crystals are disappearing.