NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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Freezing the Fruits of Summer

freezing fruits, fruits, food preservation

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

Our favorite summer fruits are making their appearance in grocery stores, road side stands and on bushes and trees in our backyard or the area. Their bright colors and flavors are a summertime delight – freezing quantities of fruit is a way to enjoy that summer taste and feeling in the midst of winter.

Frozen foods can add variety to your meals year-round. As with any method of food preservation, following specific guidelines will assure you of high quality, safe food.

Work under sanitary conditions wash your hands, wash your hands, and wash your hands.  Then wash the fruit, the cutting board, knives, and do it all again.  Recalls of contaminated food have been in the news again – this time cookie dough.  The quickest, easiest and surest way to cut down on food contamination in your own home is to have any person or thing that comes in contact with food as clean as possible.

Choose fresh, firm, ripe fruits of good quality. Freezing does not improve quality. Sort for size, ripeness and color.

Wash and drain all fruits before removing hulls (caps), cores, pits, seeds, skins or shells. Wash small lots at a time through several changes of cold water. Lift produce out of the water so that the dirt washed off will not get back on the food. Do not let fruits soak.

Work with small quantities: enough for only a few containers at a time, to prevent loss of quality and nutrients. If fruit can't be frozen immediately, refrigerate it.

Fruits like peaches, apples, pears and apricots darken quickly when exposed to air and during freezing. They also may lose flavor when thawed. There are several ways to prevent darkening and flavor loss in frozen fruit.

Crystalline (powdered) ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, is the most effective agent in preventing darkening of fruit. Not only does it preserve natural color and flavor of fruits, but it adds nutritive value as well. Ascorbic acid in crystalline or powdered form is available at some drugstores or where freezing supplies are sold.

When to use ascorbic acid varies with the freezing methods used.

Syrup pack:  Add dissolved ascorbic acid to cold syrup shortly before using. Stir it in gently so that you will not stir in air. Keep syrup refrigerated until used.

Sugar pack:  Sprinkle dissolved ascorbic acid over fruit just before adding sugar.

Unsweetened pack: Sprinkle dissolved ascorbic acid over fruit, and mix thoroughly just before packing. If fruit is packed in water or juice, dissolve the ascorbic acid in the water or juice.

Sugar is not necessary to safely preserve fruit. For those wishing to cut down on sugar, fruit can be packed dry without any sugar, or covered with water or unsweetened juice containing ascorbic acid.

 Fruit is best served while it is still partially frozen with a few ice crystals still remaining. If thawed completely, frozen fruit will become mushy because of cell wall damage from ice crystals that form during the freezing process.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist

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