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How To Freeze Fruits & Vegetables

Whether you went crazy at the Farmer’s Market and bought too much, or you just want to be able to enjoy them when they are no longer in-season, freezing fruits and vegetables are a great way to preserve them for later use.

HowToFreezeFruit1

Here are some a few things to keep in mind:

  • Buy and freeze fruits and veggies when they’re at their peak of freshness
  • Know which vegetables should be blanched prior to freezing
  • Store in heavy-duty freezer bags, removing as much air as possible
  • Date and label freezer bags and be aware when they should be eaten by (before their quality is affected)

Vegetables

Why & What to Blanch?

Enzymes naturally occur in vegetables, and are what help them to grow and ripen. Blanching is when you quickly steam or boil vegetables to stop the enzyme action – otherwise it causes a loss of nutrients, color, texture and flavor. Freezing will slow down the action of enzymes, but does not stop them completely (which is why frozen food still has a ‘shelf life’).

There are a few exceptions like tomatoes, onions, sweet and hot peppers, which can be frozen without blanching.

How to Blanch

The best pot for blanching would be a large stockpot, with a removable metal basket, and a lid. The basket allows you to remove the vegetables quickly, otherwise, you could use a basket ladle or slotted spoon.

With the lid on, bring the water to a vigorous boil, and blanch vegetables in small batches – too many will increase the time the water comes back to a boil, and you could end up over-blanching (cooking) your vegetables.

For a few vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and squashes, steaming is recommended over boiling, due to the softer texture of the vegetable.

Timing

Once you place the vegetables in the boiling water and cover with the lid, start timing once the water returns to a boil (if steaming, start counting as soon as you put the lid back on). Under-blanching stimulates the activity of enzymes (causing spoilage), and over-blanching will cause loss of flavor, color and nutrients. Although there is no ‘perfect time’, due to the size of vegetables you are blanching (whole vs. cut), below is a chart of some of the most popular vegetables to freeze, that will give you the general rule of thumb for blanching times.

BlanchingChart

Cooling & Packaging

Once you have blanched the vegetables, you must cool them down as quickly as possible to stop the cooking process. Have a sink full of cold water with ice cubes in it ready, and immediately plunge the basket of vegetables into it. Change water as needed, and replace with more ice to keep the water cold. As a rule of thumb, cooling the vegetables should take about the same amount of time as it took to blanch. Drain vegetables thoroughly after cooling, then lay on a dry tea towel to blot off excess water. To package, use heavy duty freezer quality zipper lock bags to ensure that the moisture is kept inside the package, and the air stays outside. Contact with air is what causes freezer burn, which is results in a loss in a color, flavor, and texture. Force out as much air as you can, by squeezing, using a straw to suck it out, or using a vacuum sealer.

Because even perfectly blanched and frozen vegetables will lose some of their nutritional content over time, it is important to accurately label your foods. Write on the bag its contents and the date it was frozen. Or better yet, download our free freezer labels to help make the job quicker and easier (label it and circle the month and day it was frozen)!freezlabel
Freezer Labels (.pdf)Freezer Labels (.zip)

Fruits

Preparing the Fruit

Before freezing, thoroughly wash fruit then pat dry. Sort through and remove any damaged or spoiled fruit. Depending on how you want to use the frozen fruit, you can peel or leave the skin on.

Here are a few suggestions on how to prepare the fruit:

  • Fruits with cores (apples, pears) – core, slice. If you want to peel the fruit, once you slice it, toss in acidic water bath to prevent browning (4 cups water + 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar). Let soak for one minute then pat dry.
  • Fruits with pits (apricots, peaches, plums, cherries): halved (or quartered) and pitted
  • Banana’s – freeze whole, with skin on or off
  • Berries: remove hull if applicable, leave whole or sliced
  • Melons: remove seeds and rind, cut into slices/cubes/balls

How to Freeze

On a lined baking sheet, arrange fruit in a single layer, without touching. Freeze until firm, place into freezer bags, removing excess air, and label with our freezer labels:
Freezer Labels (.pdf)Freezer Labels (.zip)

Quick Fruit Freeze Trick

For peaches, nectarines, and apricots, if you are pressed for time, here is an easy way to freeze – you don’t even have to wash them first!

Place whole fruits (skin on, pits in) into freezer and freeze until solid (24 hours). Place into freezer bags and label. When you want to use them, run them under slightly warm running water for about 15 seconds and gently rub off the skin. By that point they are usually soft enough to cut in half and remove the pit.

 

 

12 Responses to How To Freeze Fruits & Vegetables

  1. Glenys Gurney August 5, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    I process individual fruits and vegies in my Health Master, pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Bag and vacuum seal. I have this wonderful fresh fruit for my smoothies all winter.

  2. Susan August 5, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    We regularly freeze blueberries, simply by dumping the basket into a freezer container with a tight lid. They don’t stick together.

  3. Alwine August 5, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    I like that so I can use the in the Winter .

  4. Hanan August 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    can we clean the berry

    • Marla Hingley
      Marla Hingley August 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

      Yes wash your fruits (and veggies) as you normally would, then freeze.

  5. Ruth August 5, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    You would go thru your berries and make sure there were no worms or bad berries, especially if these are wild raspberries…..not so much cultivated ones. For Wild Strawberries, if you are lucky enough to be able to pick them, it’s the same thing. With the cultivated ones, just pick thru them and make sure there are no “baddies” in them, and put them in a freezer bag, and that is that. Put them in the f reezer. I usually freeze them, especially the raspberries, in the amount that it would take to make a pie….usually about 2 1/2 cups per bag. The wild strawberries are much smaller than cultivated ones, and much sweeter and for me, make the best jam, but there is OH SO MUCH PICKING!!!!
    YOU NEVER WASH YOU BERRIES!!!!!!! Just go thru them and make sure there are no worms or pieces of trash among them, but don’t wash them….either for freezing or for making up into jams or jellies, unless, when you are going thru them, you see there is dirt on them , and you only need to wash the one (or ones) that you see dirt on, not the whole batch.) Use your Certo too. Go by the recipe on the paper that come with the Certo. That is for fruits. For most veggies, you would need to wash them. When you freeze you beans, BE SURE THAT YOU LAY THEM OUT ON A TOWEL TO GET THEM COMPLETELY DRY before you put them in the f reezer bag. If you have water in the bottom of your freezer bag, from wet beans (yellow or green) the beans on the bottom will be tough compared to the ones higher up in the bag. I’ve learned this thru trial and error. A very wise lady told me how to always have tender beans. SO….when I freeze beans, I always have 2 or 3 towels on a table and a fan on the table, and after I waterbath the beans in boiling water, I put them in cold water to cool them and then on the towels, with the fan on them, until they are all dried off, and THEN put them in their bags. Beans that have been left in the bag with water on them will be tough as leather lightning! So always be sure your beans are almost dry before you put them in the bags for the freezer. That’s the secret to freezing good beans. Learn thru trial and error.

  6. Tess August 5, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    Blueberries are the easiest! As long as they are dry, all you have to do is put them in a freezer safe container & freeze them. (If they have just been picked, allow them to come to room temp first to avoid condensation) They will freeze like little blue marbles. When you’re ready to use them, just measure out what you need and rinse under cool water – that cleans and thaws them at the same time. I worked at a pick-your-own blueberry farm for several years, and this is how we handled the berries we froze. They will keep in the freezer for up to 2 years (but mine never last that long!)

  7. Sarla August 5, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

    Please give the instructions on freezing of Mangoes.
    Thanks
    Sarla Dilwali?

    • Marla Hingley
      Marla Hingley August 6, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

      Treat mangoes like melons; peel, remove seed, cut up and freeze on a baking sheet until solid. Then place them all in a freezer bag, removing as much air as you can.

  8. Pauline Yaschuk August 6, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    your info on gluten free has been a GOD send and enjoy your receipes Keep up the GREAT work Angie

  9. Diane August 6, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    I freeze my fruit for smoothly in the winter

  10. Susan August 8, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    We grow cherry/grape tomatoes. I freeze them whole. When I want to throw them in a sauce, I run them under water and the peel comes off just like the method used for the peaches. Great!!!

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