What's not to love about fruit? It's varied, colorful, delicious and appealing to all ages. And there's one more benefit: fruit freezes easily and well, meaning you can have fresh fruit in winter (yeah!), save money and avoid food waste. After freezing, the fruit may undergo a few changes in texture, quality and spoilage, but the proper procedures minimize these possibilities.
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How Long Fruit Can Be Kept Frozen
As long as the fruit was correctly prepared and packaged and your freezer temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, you can keep your fruit frozen for as long as eight months to a year. However, for the best taste and quality, enjoy your fruit sooner rather than later. This is especially true with citrus fruits; freeze them for four to six months.
The bottom line is that when you freeze fruit in the summer, you can most likely enjoy fruity deliciousness all year long until next summer.
Best Practices to Ensure No Freezer Burn
Advice on how to save summer fruit must start with proper packaging. It is key to retaining fruit quality and avoiding freezer burn.
- Go with packaging that is tough, easy to handle and resistant to moisture vapors. Examples include wide-mouth freezing jars, plastic bags, foil and rigid aluminum containers. If in doubt, purchase containers made specifically for freezing food, and do not use regular jars or cardboard containers.
- Label and date each package using freezer-friendly pens or labels, and eat older fruit first.
- Keep the freezer temperature at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and leave space for air circulation among warmer, newer packages. (You can put packages closer together after the fruit freezes.)
- You may want to use powdered ascorbic acid or tablets to prevent discoloration, especially with fruits such as peaches, pears and apples.
Steps to Take When Freezing Fruit
Good news! You can freeze any fruit you would put into a smoothie. Common fruits that people freeze include bananas, cherries, apples, berries, peaches, mangoes and kiwi. You certainly do not lack for choice, but avoid freezing fruit jelly.
The University of Georgia has a handy document that breaks down the best practices for a variety of fruits. For example, with citrus fruits, it is best to remove the membrane and seeds. In general, when considering how to freeze fresh fruit, you should:
- Select containers beforehand.
- Freeze the fruits when they are at their peak.
- Throw away low-quality and green parts of fruit.
- Pre-prepare fruits the way you plan to use them (for instance, cutting strawberries and peaches for a smoothie). If you intend to use strawberries with dessert, you may want to freeze them with syrup.
- Avoid metallic silverware and tools when preparing fruit to ensure that the food does not have a metallic taste later.
- Decide whether you want to freeze with sugar, syrup or neither. Fruit frozen with sweeteners (or artificial sweeteners) tends to retain better texture and color, and the fruit thaws more quickly. The fruit also tends to stay higher quality for longer. Exceptions apply to fruit such as steamed apples, blueberries and cranberries, as they stay in great shape.
- Freeze no more than two to three pounds of fruit at a time per cubic foot of freezer.
Ideas for What to Do With Your Frozen Fruit
So, the snow is piling up, and it's time to enjoy some fresh fruit goodness! Here are a few things you can do with your frozen fruit.
- Smoothies, smoothie bowls or smoothie popsicles
- Nice cream
- Frozen yogurt cups
- Fruit empanadas
- Fruit crumble
- Baked oatmeal
- Sprinkle on oatmeal and cereals
And, of course, you can enjoy your fruit by itself as a healthy snack in between sledding and building snowmen. If the winter is getting to be too much, you could even build a tiny tropical oasis in your living space and savor that fruit.