Your grandmother may have had time to “put up” all the flavors of summer for cooler seasons, but even with a trusty one-hour jam recipe, sometimes we run out of time, and the fresh, craveable flavors of the season escape us. But a lack of interest or time for making jam or canning doesn’t need to stand in the way of savoring “fresh” fruit cobblers, pies and smoothies well into the dead of winter — if you put in a little time to properly freeze those flavors.
It may be tempting (and almost intuitive) to toss those beautiful fruits into a freezer bag and call it a day. But, when you reach back in to make a blackberry cobbler a few months from now, you’ll likely find that those fruits have frozen into a solid brick making it a challenge to toss just a few cups into a pie crust. And, when frozen fruits thaw, they turn into a watery mess (which means any unused portion will turn right back into a brick of fruit if refrozen.)
The easiest, most user-friendly way to freeze fresh fruit is to prep it as if you were going to use it immediately (peel, core, chop) and then freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once the pieces are frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer container for storage. Remove as much air as possible from your containers to protect the fruit from freezer burn, then pull from them for the next few months for all sorts of uses. Thawed frozen fruit isn’t nearly as pretty as its ripe previous-selves, but folded into quickbreads and muffins, baked into pies or cobblers, it’s absolutely perfect.
READ MORE > 6 SUMMER FRUIT PIES & CRISPS UNDER 300 CALORIES
Here’s your quick guide on how to freeze fresh summer fruits:
INGREDIENTS & EQUIPMENT
- Any amount of ripe fruit
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Freezer bags or containers
1. WASH AND DRY YOUR FRUIT
Rinse under cool, running water, then lay the fruit in a single layer on a clean dish towel and allow to dry. The fruit needs to be completely dry before freezing or it will quickly develop freezer burn.
2. SLICE THE FRUIT
In general, prepare the fruit the way you expect to be using it. If you will be using the fruit in a pie, slice it into chunks or wedges. If you will be blending it into smoothies, roughly chop. For apples, pears, peaches or nectarines, core or remove the pits, then cut into slices or chunks. For melons, remove the rinds and chop into chunks. Berries can be left whole.
3. ARRANGE THE FRUIT IN A SINGLE LAYER ON A BAKING SHEET LINED WITH PARCHMENT PAPER
It’s OK if the fruit touches slightly, but avoid layering or overlapping the fruit. This allows the fruit to freeze individually, making it easier to store and, eventually, use.
4. FREEZE UNTIL FRUIT IS SOLID, ABOUT 4 HOURS
You can leave the fruit overnight, but package within a day or two or they will start to develop freezer burn.
5. LABEL THE FREEZER CONTAINERS
Jot down the date, type of fruit and the amount inside the container. This makes it easier to find the fruit you want (and identify similar-looking fruits!) and pull out the specific quantity you need.
6. ONCE THE FRUITS HAVE FROZEN SOLID, PACK THEM INTO FREEZER CONTAINERS
Lift the edges of the parchment to dislodge sticky fruit and use a spatula to transfer the fruits to the freezer container. Handle the fruit as little as possible to prevent quick thawing, then seal tightly, pressing out as much air as possible, and return the fruit to the freezer.
7. GRAB WHENEVER THE MOOD STRIKES
Fruit keeps for several months — at least 3 months and sometimes longer — before starting to develop ice crystals and freezer burn. There is usually no need to thaw the fruit before using it.