Properly freeze fruit

Learn how to easily preserve fresh fruit, maintaining their quality with these easy freezer methods.

Freezing is one of the easiest methods of preserving foods. Freezing fruits cannot improve the flavor or texture, but if the proper process is followed, most of the quality can be preserved. Selecting fruits at their best texture and ripeness will help to ensure a quality end product. If fruits cannot be frozen immediately upon picking or purchasing, it is recommended to store them in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage.

Unlike freezing vegetables where you stop the ripening process by blanching, fruit enzymes are controlled by using ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to prevent browning and loss of vitamin C. Some fruit preservation recipes include controlling browning by putting the fruit in lemon juice or sugar syrup. Because of the higher water content of fruits, the texture becomes much softer when frozen. Frozen fruits are best served before they have completely thawed.

Freezers should be set at zero degrees Fahrenheit to keep foods at their best quality. Using freezer thermometers can help maintain this consistent temperature. Changing temperatures can cause the ice in the foods to thaw slightly and then refreeze. This can shorten the quality of frozen foods.

Proper packaging for freezing fruits should be:

  • Moisture and vapor resistant
  • Durable and leak proof
  • Resistant to oil, grease and water
  • Protect foods from absorption of off flavors or odors
  • Easy to seal   
  • Easy to mark

The first step is selecting fresh, firm, ripe fruit. Prepare small amounts at one time to prevent loss of quality and nutrients. Thoroughly wash and drain all fruits before removing hulls, cores, pits, seeds, skins or shells. Do not soak fruit in water; wash small amounts through several changes of cold water, lifting fruit out of the water so dirt is washed off. Following research-based, tested recipes. Refer to Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Michigan Fresh food preservation fact sheets for freezing instructions for a variety of Michigan-grown fruits.

There are several ways to pack fruits for freezing: syrup pack, sugar pack, dry pack or unsweetened pack. Most fruits have a better texture and flavor if packed in sugar or syrup. Artificial sweeteners can also be used. The dry pack method is good for small whole fruits. Simply pack the fruit into containers, seal and freeze. Unsweetened fruit can be packed in water or unsweetened juice.

For the best quality frozen fruits, follow tested recipes and choose fruit that is at its peak of ripeness.

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