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Freezing: Fruit Basics

Freezing our bountiful harvest is an easy way of preserving our produce; but the foods will not keep as long. In freezing the organisms that cause spoiling become inactive, but don’t die. As long as the produce remains frozen the bacteria can’t grow, but once it is thawed they will begin growing once again.

You should be aware of some changes in your fruits before you start freezing. Foods may become mushy when thawed because ice crystals cause damage in the cells of the foods. If you keep foods frozen for too long, or if they are frozen in improper containers it will cause freezer burn thus causing the color and taste of the foods to be changed for the worse. Such food is still safe to eat in this condition, but it is not be as appealing.

As freezing is a simple process, there is not much equipment required to get started – just your household freezer and the appropriate containers. The easiest containers are common freezer bags found in your local supermarket. You can also freeze in your canning jars, plastic containers [such as butter or cottage containers], aluminum foil, plastic wrap and freezer paper. Regardless of the containers used, you will need to allow for the food to expand as it freezes, so be sure to leave plenty of space for this process – similar to the head space left when canning. Not leaving this room for expansion will cause your containers to leak in your freezer and make an icy mess that you will have to clean up later.https://www.foodshortageusa.com

Freezing Fruit

Fruits generally darken after they are cut, to prevent this darkening you will need to use an anti-darkening agent. A natural anti-darkening solution that can be used is a teaspoon of lemon juice to a quart of water. Soaking your fruit for five to ten minutes prior to placing them in the containers for freezing will prevent this. You can also use commercial anti-darkening, such as ‘Fruit Fresh’ by following the instructions on the package. Using either will work with great results.

You may want to add sugar to some of your fruit to help it retain its color and enhance its flavor. This can be done by adding the sugar directly to the fruit and mixing it in, or by making a sugar and water syrup and pouring it over the fruit after putting it into the containers and before freezing. Please refer to the chart below for the desired thickness of syrup desired.

Fruit Freezing Instructions

  • Apples – for pies: Peel, core and slice. Treat with anti-darkening agent. Drain. May mix in ½ cup sugar for each quart of apples. Seal and freeze.
  • Applesauce: wash and quarter apples. Cook until tender adding just enough water to prevent scorching. Put through sieve, colander, or food mill. Sweeten if desired. Pack into containers – leaving room for expansion.
  • Apricots – for pies: Wash, halve and pit. Peel if desired. If you do not peel, heat in boiling water for 1 minute to prevent skins from toughening. Treat with anti-darkening agent. Drain. May mix in ½ cup sugar for each quart of apricots. Seal and freeze.
  • Blackberries/Raspberries – for pies and jams: Remove stems, wash and drain. May mix in ¾ cup sugar per quart of berries. Fill containers and freeze.
  • Cherries – for pies: Remove stems, wash, drain and pit. May mix in ¾ cup sugar per quart cherries. Pack, seal and freeze.
  • Gooseberries: Remove blossom ends and stems. Wash and pack into containers. May cover with heavy syrup. Seal and freeze.
  • Melons: cut into bit sized pieces. Pack into containers. Cover with syrup of choice. Seal and freeze.
  • Peaches – for pies: Wash, pit and peel, if desired. If you do not peel, heat in boiling water for 1 minute to prevent skins from toughening. Treat with anti-darkening agent. Drain. Cover with cold water. Seal and freeze.
  • Pears: Wash, peel, core and quarter. Heat pears in syrup of choice for 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Pack pears in containers with syrup and anti-darkening agent. Seal and freeze.
  • Plums: Wash, halve and pit. Pack into containers and freeze.
  • Rhubarb: Wash and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Blanch 1 min. [heat in boiling water for 1 minute and cool in cold water*]. Pack into containers and freeze.
  • Strawberries: Wash, drain, remove stems. May mix in ¾ cup sugar per quart berries. Pack into containers and freeze.
  • Tomatoes: Wash, remove stems and blanch 3-4 minutes*. Cool in cold water and remove skins. Can quarter, halve, or leave whole. Pack into containers leaving ½ inch headspace and freeze.
  • Stewed tomatoes: Wash, remove stems and blanch 3-4 minutes*. Cool in cold water and remove skins. Quarter and cook about 20 minutes or until tender. Place pan into cold water to cool, pack into containers leaving ½ inch headspace and freeze.

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