NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Filling the Freezer with Fruits

Filling the Freezer with Fruit


Freezing is one of the easiest methods of preserving foods. Only a few steps are need to ensure that your frozen fruits remain nutritious and high in quality.

Most fruits can be frozen satisfactorily, but the quality of the frozen product will vary with the kind of fruit, stage of maturity and type of pack.

Select fruits with a firm texture and well-developed flavor and then treat them with respect. Wash small quantities (2 to 3 quarts) at a time to avoid bruising. Wash through several changes of cold water, lifting produce out of the water each time so that dirt will not settle back on the fruit. Do not let produce soak.

Fruits are prepared for freezing in about the same way as for serving. It is best to prepare enough fruit for only 2 to 3 quarts at one time. A colander, food press or strainer is useful for making purees. Blenders and food processors tend to liquefy the fruit too much. Do not use galvanized ware with fruit or fruit juices because the acid in fruit dissolves the zinc, which is poisonous. Metallic off-flavors may result from the use of iron utensils, chipped enameled ware or tin ware that is not well tinned.

Some fruits, such as apples, apricots, peaches, nectarines and pears, darken during preparation for freezer storage and darken very rapidly when thawed unless treated to avoid darkening.  Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is effective in preventing darkening in most fruits. Not only does it preserve natural color and flavor, but it adds nutritive value. Ascorbic acid in crystalline or powdered form is available at drugstores or where canning supplies are sold. Ascorbic acid tablets are available and may be used. They are less expensive, but more difficult to dissolve.  Also, filler in the tablets may make the syrup cloudy.

Lemon juice or citric acid is used sometimes instead of ascorbic acid. These ingredients are usually not as effective in preventing darkening as ascorbic acid. When used in large quantities, lemon juice can mask the natural fruit flavors. Steaming for a few minutes before packing is enough to control darkening in some fruits. Steaming works best for fruits that will be cooked before use.

There are several types of fruit packs suitable for freezing: syrup pack, unsweetened pack, sugar pack, dry pack, tray pack and sugar replacement pack. Whichever method you choose, be sure to leave the appropriate head space. Most fruits have a better texture and flavor if packed in sugar or syrup. Some can be packed satisfactorily without sweetening, but losses of vitamin C are greatest when fruits are packed without sugar. The type of pack will depend on the intended use. Fruits packed in syrup are generally best for serving uncooked; those packed in dry sugar or unsweetened are best for most cooking purposes because there is less liquid in the product. Unsweetened packs and sugar replacement packs often are used by people on special diets.  A 40 percent syrup is recommended for most fruits.

For an unsweetened pack, fruit can be packed dry, covered with water containing ascorbic acid or packed in unsweetened juice. For fruit packed in water or juice, submerge fruit by using a small piece of crumpled water-resistant material as for syrup and sugar packs. Seal tightly and freeze.

Unsweetened packs generally yield a lower quality product than packs with sugar. However, some fruits, such as raspberries, blueberries, scalded apples, gooseberries, currants, cranberries and rhubarb, maintain good quality without sugar.  The dry pack is good for small whole fruits, such as berries, that give a good quality product without sugar. Simply pack the fruit into a container, seal and freeze.

Syrups for use in freezing fruits.

Type of Syrup        Cups of Sugar   Cups Water Yield of Syrup Cups

10 percent syrup         ½                            4                      4¼

20 percent syrup          1                            4                      4¾

30 percent syrup          1¾                         4                        5

40 percent syrup          2¾                         4                        5 1/2

50 percent syrup          4                            4                            6


 In general, up to one-fourth of the sugar may be replaced by corn syrup or mild-flavored honey. Sugar substitutes, such as aspartame, can be used when freezing fruits. They will give a sweet taste but do not furnish the beneficial effects of sugar, such as color protection and thick syrup. Fruits frozen with sugar substitutes generally will freeze harder and thaw more slowly than those preserved with sugar. Follow directions on the label of the sweetener to determine the amount of sweetener needed.

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