These Freezer Hacks Will Have You Enjoying Fresh Fruit All Year
Enjoy your favorite fruits year-round by freezing them yourself.
As the seasons come and go, so do some of our favorite fruits. In spring and summer, we start to see perfectly juicy strawberries, blueberries, and stone fruit like apricots, peaches, plums, and nectarines at our local farmer’s markets. Throughout fall, there’s an abundance of apples available in the West (more than we usually know what to do with) and they show up in all kinds of varieties.
If you find yourself ever so slightly overwhelmed with the amount of produce on your hands—because we all get carried away at the store or farmer’s market when our favorite fruits are in season—here’s a tip: Save the extras for a later date by freezing them—it’s a lot easier than you think.
When it comes to freezing fruit to preserve its freshness and texture, we have a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to make sure your produce doesn’t fall victim to the freezer graveyard of forgotten foods. (It happens to the best of us.)
To get started, you’ll want to stock up on fruit (or take stock of what you’ve already got), pick up a box of gallon-size freezer bags or reusable storage containers that have a secure seal, and a bottle of ascorbic acid (which is basically just vitamin C) to help stop oxidization in the freezer.
While it may take a few hours to complete the process of freezing and packaging your fruits, most of that time doesn’t require your direct attention and can be left to sit between other tasks. In the end, you’ll have a freezer full of fruits that are perfect for making pies, jams, or smoothies. Need we say more?
A Foolproof Technique
If you’re freezing stone fruits, you’ll want to source the freshest ones around June or July. Blueberries, blackberries, cherries, strawberries, and raspberries will burst with flavor from mid-May through August. So as you plan your upcoming late spring and summer, prioritize fruit on your farmer’s market trip or stop at the grocery store so you can fill your freezer all at once.
Once you’ve got all of your fruit on hand you’ll first need to prep. Cut larger fruits into wedges and remove the tops of berries. They’ll freeze better in small pieces to avoid oxidization. It’s helpful to make a solution of ascorbic acid, also called fruit fresh, which is a fine white powder that dissolves in water. Ascorbic acid helps stop fruit from browning, so you won’t end up with brown apples or peaches when you pull them out of the freezer. Dissolve it in water per the label’s instruction and then dip your fruit in it before laying them out on a lined sheet.
Pop the sheet into the freezer for a few hours until frozen. Remove the sheet and separate the fruits into bags or containers. You can combine different fruits or keep each type on its own. Label the containers and stick them back in the freezer until ready to use. The fruit is going to be at its best within six months from initial freezing, so the sooner the better. Remember: Time does not stop in the freezer, it just slows down.
Put Your Frozen Fruit to Good Use
There are dozens of ways to use frozen fruit year-round. In our recipe for make-ahead pie filling, all you have to do is toss together peaches, plums, apricots, or another fruits of your choice, plus spices and a little bit of thickening agent, and freeze it in a pie pan (so it holds its shape).
Once it’s frozen in pie pan form, you can remove it from the pan and place it in a Ziploc bag, or wrap it in plastic and stack multiple pie fillings on top of each other for easy storage. This is a super simple way to have summer fruit pies in the chilly winter months when you’re craving ripe cherries or stone fruits. Similarly, you can freeze blueberries, apples, or strawberry-rhubarb filling for a two-step homemade pie in the future.
It’s also easier than ever to make homemade jams using frozen fruit. Whether you freeze strawberries in the peak of summer or cranberries in fall, just add a little sugar and citrus juice to a pot with the fruit. The water content released by the fruit will help it thicken into a sweet and flavorful jam.
The cost of buying frozen fruits can be astronomical depending on how out of season something is. By freezing different fruits individually, you can decide how you mix them depending on what you want to use them for. If you like a smoothie with strawberries, bananas, and peaches, combine the trio of fruits into pre-measured bags or containers. This way, you can just empty the contents into the blender without having to deal with multiple bags or prep work.
To help make sure none of your frozen fruit goes to waste, we’ve gathered some of our favorite recipes to make all throughout the year: