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 firm, evenly ripe fruit of the right variety for freezing. Freeze fruit that has a good flavor and color and is at peak ripeness for eating. Freezing won't improve the quality of the fruit. Immature fruit becomes pale and tasteless in the freezer, overripe fruit turns dark.
- Most fruits are best when frozen soon after they are harvested. Peaches and pears may be held a short time to ripen.
- Wash fruit in cold water before hulling or paring. Wash a small amount at one time to prevent bruising. Don't let fruit soak in water. Prepare as for serving. Use a stainless steel knife for paring or cutting. Work quickly. Slice fruit directly into the carton containing syrup or add sugar at once to the fruit.
- Fruits packed with dry sugar or sugar syrup usually retain their color, flavor, and texture better than those packed without sugar. The amount of sugar or syrup used depends on the sweetness desired. Juice fruits will make their own syrup when combined with dry sugar. A syrup may be preferable for less juice fruits.
- Speed is important in preparing fruit for freezing. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is effective in preserving the color and flavor of fruit and adds nutritive value. It also adds to the expense of freezing fruits. A crystalline or powdered form of ascorbic acid is easier and better to use than tablets. Dissolve ascorbic acid in a little cold water and add to the fruit or syrup. Solutions should be made up as needed. If you use one of the ascorbic acid mixtures on the market, follow the manufacturer's directions. Steaming a few minutes before packing is enough to control the darkening of some fruits, such as apples. You can use citric acid or lemon juice on some fruits, but it is less effective than ascorbic acid and changes the flavor of the fruit.
- Use a package that protects the quality of the fruit while in storage. Select the size container according to your planned use of the fruit.
- Leave head space in the container as directed for each fruit.
- Seal. Label with the name of the fruit; the date; the purpose for which the fruit is intended, such as pie, jam, or dessert; and the amount of sugar used in the pack.
- Freeze at once. Place packages against freezing plates or coils. Leave space between packages so air can circulate freely.
WAYS TO PACK FRUIT
Syrups for Use in Freezing Fruits
¹In general, up to one-fourth of the sugar may be replaced by corn syrup. A larger proportion of corn syrup may be used if you use a bland, light-colored type.
Dissolve the sugar in hot or cold water. If you use hot water, cool syrup to 70 degrees before using. Syrup may be made ahead of time and kept in refrigerator.
Cover the fruit with syrup. You can place a piece of crumpled parchment paper or other moisture-vapor-resistant paper on top of the fruit before closing and sealing the container to help hold fruit below the syrup level. The top pieces of fruit will change flavor or color if not covered with syrup.
- Sugar Pack - For most fruits, adding one part sugar by weight to four parts fruit by weight makes the fruit sweet enough and preserves its quality. The amount of sugar varies with the sweetness of the fruit and a family's taste. One part sugar by weight to three parts fruit by weight would be the highest desirable concentration of sugar.
Mix sugar and fruit gently with a large spoon until the juice is drawn out and the sugar is dissolved. Pack the fruit and juice in a container and place a piece of crumpled moisture-vapor-resistant paper on top to hold the fruit in the juice. Close and seal the container.
- Unsweetened Pack - Pack prepared fruit into a container without liquid or sweetening or cover it with water containing ascorbic acid. Some fruits, such as peaches and strawberries, however, may be more mushy when packed without sugar than when packed with it. It is best to cover light-colored fruit with water containing ascorbic acid. The fruit may be crushed or sliced in its own juice without sweetening added. Press the fruit into the juice or water with a small piece of crumpled parchment paper, as described in the syrup or sugar pack method. Close and seal the container.