Today’s “recipe” is actually a “how to” on freezing fresh fruit. This will be my first year of freezing fruit, after many years of craving strawberries and blueberries in the dead of winter and being disappointed at the quality (and cost) of the berries at the grocery store in January. So, we can all learn this together.
I’m going to talk about freezing unsweetened fruit (that is to say, nothing packed in syrup or anything). Here are some general rules for freezing fruit and vegetables to keep in mind, according to “Freezing Fresh Foods” by Jan Main (I can’t seem to find this book on Amazon, but I did find it at the local library):
– Freeze as quickly as possible after harvesting
– Select only the best quality fruit and vegetables.
– Store frozen fruit and vegetables at 0 degrees or lower and use within one year
– Freeze only 2 to 3 pounds of produce per cubic foot in a freezer in a 24-hour period
Unsweetened fruit is typically frozen individually on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. This simple method is suitable for cherries, strawberries, red and black currants, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, cranberries, raspberries and chopped rhubarb.
First, you’ll want to wash the berries (do NOT wash blueberries because it will make their skins tough and do NOT wash raspberries, which are too fragile). According to Vegetarian Times’ July 2010 edition, pat away the excess moisture to prevent ice crystals from forming.
Spread the fruit in a single layer on the wax paper lined baking sheet. A tip from my husband, you’ll want to cool the fruit on the tray in the refrigerator before you freeze them, this cuts down on the ice crystals, as well.
Now they’re cool, move them to the freezer. Once they are frozen, put them in labeled and dated resealable plastic bags. The Vegetarian Times says to be sure to partially seal the bags and squeeze out any air to prevent freezer burn, and then seal the bags completely (if you have a vacuum sealer, now would be a good time to use it). Lay the bag flat in the freezer to maximize the space.
The Vegetarian Times recommends thawing the fruit on a baking sheet so that the fruit retains its shape.