How to prepare and freeze fruit.
Most types of fruits can be frozen, although some fruits freeze better than others. Freezing fruit is useful if you have large amounts of seasonal fresh fruit, which would deteriorate and have to be discarded if not preserved in some way. Freezing fruit retains the quality, colour and flavour for several months and in some cases for up to a year.
It is not really necessary to freeze or preserve fruit that is available all year round, however freezing cherries in July, for example, would mean that you could be eating cherry pie
There are four basic methods of freezing fruit. The method that you choose will depend on the type and quality of fruit and how you are going to prepare it at a later stage.
Ideally, if freezing certain fruits whole, they should be at their peak condition and of good quality. Do not freeze fruit that is unripe, and overripe fruit is best made into a purée.
Bananas do not freeze very well and pears discolour rapidly when frozen and therefore should be frozen in a solution of ascorbic acid or lemon juice or alternatively blanched before freezing.
Soft fruits such as strawberries and raspberries will freeze, however they lose their shape and texture upon defrosting and are only really suitable for mousses or fruit fools and other dishes where they are used for flavour rather than shape.
The four methods of freezing fruit are dry-freezing, sugar-freezing, syrup-freezing and puréeing.
These methods are described below and are followed by detailed instructions on the best way to freeze various types of fruit.
Dry-freezing, otherwise known as open freezing, is suitable for small whole berries, which can be washed without breaking the skin and which do not discolour when exposed to air or for fruits that will be made into jellies, jams, puddings or pies.
For example: gooseberries, cranberries, blueberries, rhubarb, redcurrants, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries.
- Wash hard skin berries in very cold water, which will firm up the skin and then dry them with kitchen paper. Soft fruits should not be washed before freezing.
- Place the fruit in a single layer on a baking tray lined with a piece of greaseproof paper.
- Place the baking tray into the freezer, making sure that the tray is flat and freeze until the fruit is solid.
- Remove from the freezer and transfer the fruit either to a rigid container or into polythene freezer bags. If using bags, extract as much air as possible before sealing. You can do this by using a straw and sucking the air out of the bag.
- Seal or tie the bag, label it and return to the freezer until needed.
- Try to use the fruit within 6 - 8 months.
Sugar-freezing is suitable for soft fruits that will later be made into jams or puddings. Do not wash soft fruits before preparation.
The fruit is mixed together with sugar, which draws out the natural juice from the fruit and is then converted into a syrup type substance that that covers the fruit and protects it from exposure to air, which would lead to oxidisation and discolouration.
For example: strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and blackberries.
- In a large bowl, carefully mix together 4oz (115 g) of caster sugar together with 1 lb (455 g) fruit or quantities of sugar and fruit to the same ratio.
- Ensure that each piece of fruit is coated with a layer of sugar.
- Transfer to a rigid container or to polythene bags.
- Extract as much air as possible from the bags, tie or seal securely, label and place into the freezer.
- Use the fruit within 9 - 12 months.
Syrup-freezing is suitable for fruits that are firm and not very juicy or for fruits that have been halved, stoned or sliced.
A syrup is prepared with the quantities of sugar and water dependant on the type of fruit and is then allowed to cool before pouring over the prepared fruit.
For example: plums, rhubarb, damsons, apricots, pineapple, peaches and greengages.
- Place 8oz (225 g) of caster sugar together with 1 pint (600 ml) of water into a saucepan.
- Mix together and heat gently, stirring constantly so that the sugar dissolves into the water.
- Bring to the boil, stirring continuously and then remove from the heat.
- Allow to cool.
- Stir in the juice of 1 lemon (optional).
- Wash 1 lb (455 g) of fruit in very cold water and dry with kitchen paper.
- Cut away and discard any overripe or unripe sections.
- Refrigerate until needed.
- Layer the fruit into rigid containers and pour over the syrup. Allow ½ inch of headspace for subsequent expansion of the liquid when frozen.
- Cover, label the container and place into the freezer.
- Use within 9 - 12 months.
Puréeing fruit before freezing is most suitable for fruit that is not in its prime condition or for fruit that is overripe. Once defrosted, it may be served as a mousse, jam, sauce, fruit fool or as an accompaniment to ice cream and other desserts.
More often then not, this type of fruit must be lightly stewed and sweetened with sugar before puréeing. Puréed fruit may be stored in the freezer for up to 8 months.
For example: apples, apricots, plums, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, pears, blackcurrants, rhubarb, blackberries and damsons.
- Wash and prepare the fruit by peeling and removing the pips and blemishes.
- Cut the fruit into slices if whole or larger firm fruits.
- Place 1 lb (455 g) of fruit into a large saucepan with 4 tbsp of water. The water is only required in order to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with the lid.
- Heat gently and simmer until the fruit is soft. Stir occasionally.
- Stir in 3 -4 oz (85 - 115 g) of caster sugar.
- Continue to cook and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Do not bring to the boil.
- Allow to cool slightly and then process in a food blender or processor. Alternatively, pass through a fine sieve.
- Pack into plastic containers leaving a little room at the top for expansion.
- Freeze and use within 6 - 8 months.
Apples: Slices - Peel and core the apples. Cut into slices. Immerse slices in a bowl full of very cold acidulated water (water and juice of 1 lemon). Blanch (immerse in fast-boiling water) for 1 - 2 minutes and immediately cool in ice-cold water. Drain well. Dry or sugar freeze by packing in rigid containers or polythene bags.
Purée - Peel, core and slice the apples. See instructions for fruit purée. Allow to cool and pack in plastic containers, leaving ½ inch headspace for expansion.
Apricots: Blanch for 30 seconds in fast-boiling water then immerse in cold water until cool. Remove the skin. Cut in half and discard the stone. Slice the fruit or leave as two halves. Freeze in syrup made from 2 pints of water, 1 lb of sugar and 500 mg of ascorbic acid for each pint of syrup. Freeze in labelled plastic containers.
Blackberries: Dry or sugar-freeze using 4 oz (115 g) of caster sugar to each 1 lb of blackberries. Pack in polythene bags or plastic containers.
Purée: Pass through a fine sieve and mix with sugar to sweeten. Pack in rigid containers.
Blackcurrants: Wash and dry the fruit. Remove stalks. Dry or sugar-freeze and pack in polythene bags or plastic containers.
Purée: Follow instructions for fruit purée, making sure that only a minimum amount of water is used. Sweeten with sugar (3 oz / 85 g for each 1 lb of fruit) and pack in plastic containers.
Cherries: Wash, remove stalks and dry thoroughly. Dry freeze.
Sugar-freeze after removing the stones. Pack in rigid containers.
Syrup-freeze with a syrup made from 8 oz (225 g) of caster sugar, 1 pint of water and ¼ tsp of ascorbic acid to each pint of syrup. Pack in plastic containers, allowing ½ inch headspace.
Damsons: Purée - Wash the fruit and cook gently in a minimum amount of water. Add sugar to taste. Cool and then pass through a sieve or blender. Pack in rigid containers.
Gooseberries: Top and tail, wash, dry and then dry-freeze.
Syrup-freeze in syrup made with 1 lb of caster sugar and 1 pint of water. Allow to cool and pack in rigid containers.
Purée - Sweeten with 4 oz (115 g) of caster sugar to each 1 lb of fruit. Cool and pass through a sieve or blender. Pack in plastic containers, label and freeze.
Grapefruit: Peel the grapefruit and remove the pith. Cut into segments and sugar-freeze. Use 8 oz (225 g) of caster sugar to each 1 lb of fruit. Pack in plastic containers.
Syrup-freeze in a syrup prepared with equal quantities of water and caster sugar.
Lemons: Freeze whole.
Slice or cut into segments, blanch for 1 minute and freeze in polythene bags.
Squeeze the juice from the fruit and freeze in trays for ice cubes. When frozen transfer to polythene bags.
Melon: Cut the melon in half and discard the seeds. Cut the fruit into cubes. Syrup-freeze using syrup made with 1 pint of water and 8 oz (225 g) of caster sugar.
Oranges: Prepare and sugar-freeze as for grapefruit.
Freeze the juice as for lemons.
Peaches: Wash, peel and remove the stones from the peaches. Halve or cut into slices. Immediately brush with lemon juice to prevent discolouration. Syrup-freeze as for apricots.
Purée - Peel and stone the peaches and pass through a blender. Add 4 oz (115 g) of caster sugar and 1 tbsp of lemon juice to each 1 lb of puréed fruit. Pack in rigid containers.
Plums: Syrup-freeze as for apricots. Wash, stone and halve the fruit first.
Rhubarb: Wash the rhubarb and trim the ends. Cut into 1-inch chunks and blanch in boiling water for 1 minute. Immediately immerse into ice-cold water, allow to cool and sugar-freeze. Pack in polythene bags.
Syrup-freeze in syrup made with equal quantities of sugar and water (4 oz caster sugar / 4 fl oz water). Pack in plastic containers, leaving ½ inch (5mm) headspace.
Purée - Prepare as above and then simmer gently in a little water, adding sugar to taste. Pass through a blender, cool and pack in rigid containers.