How to Freeze Fruit and Vegetables

Article by: Allrecipes staff  |  Picture by: goosegreetings
How to Freeze Fruit and Vegetables
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Whether you've heaps of fresh fruit and veg from your garden or allotment, or you've found some great produce on offer, follow these tips to freeze them to enjoy throughout the year. It's thrifty and easy, and you'll thank yourself later when you've got a stock of fruit and veg in the deep freeze come winter.

Quick tips
  • Freeze fruits and veg when they're at their peak.
  • Blanch vegetables first, then submerge in ice water. Dry thoroughly.
  • Store in heavy-weight, air-tight containers or freezer bags.
  • Fill containers to the top and remove as much air as possible from freezer bags.
  • Vegetables that hold up well to cooking (sweetcorn, garden peas) generally freeze well, too.
  • For better texture, try eating previously frozen fruit before it has completely thawed.
  • Fruit and veg freeze best at minus-17 degrees C or colder. Store frozen fruits for about a year; vegetables, about 18 months. (Storing longer is fine, but the quality may decline.)

What happens to frozen fruits and vegetables?
When frozen, the water in fruit and veg expands, causing ice crystals to puncture and break cell walls. As a result, some fruit and veg tend to get mushy when thawed. To reduce the amount of cellular damage, freeze fruit and veg as quickly as possible: colder temperatures produce smaller ice crystals, which do less damage to cell walls. The 'mushy factor' is also why we recommend eating frozen fruits before they have completely thawed.

Freezing fruit

Wash fruit and sort for damaged fruit before freezing.

A general method for freezing fruit, which even works well for delicate berries like strawberries or raspberries: Arrange the fruit in a single layer on a baking tray. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag or container. You can also prepare delicate berries with sugar or sugar syrup, then freeze.

For fruit that tends to brown - such as apples, peaches, nectarines and apricots - treat with ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Look for the powdered form in health food shops, chemists and some supermarkets (with the vitamins). To make an ascorbic acid wash: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid powder (or finely crushed vitamin C tablets) in 3 tablespoons water. Sprinkle this mixture over the cut fruit.

Not sure you want to go through this trouble? An acceptable substitute is: Slice the fruit and dip the slices in about a litre of water plus a tablespoon of lemon juice, before drying and freezing.
Freezing vegetables

The best veg for freezing are low-acid veggies - green vegetables such as broccoli – but not veggies with high water content like lettuce, celery or cucumber.

When freezing vegetables, first blanch them briefly in boiling water. Then quickly submerge the veggies in ice water to prevent them from cooking. Dry thoroughly on kitchen paper-lined trays or racks. Blanching prevents enzymes from damaging colour, flavour and nutrients and is a more effective way of washing them before freezing. Pack vegetables snugly to avoid air contact.
Packing for the freezer

The key to packing fruit and veg for freezing is to keep moisture inside the package and air outside. Contact with air can cause changes in flavour and colour. Pack fruit and vegetables in air-tight containers or moisture-proof, heavy-duty freezer bags, and force or suck out as much air as possible. Wrap freezer bags in heavy-duty aluminium foil and seal with tape. Generally, plastic sandwich bags are not heavy-duty enough. A few hours before adding food to the freezer, set the freezer to its coldest setting, and don't overload your freezer.

Most vegetables can go directly from freezer to boiling water, though sweetcorn does best when allowed to thaw a bit first. Fruit is best when allowed to thaw at room temperature. Delicate berries can turn mushy when thawed completely, so consider using them before they're totally thawed, like in cool smoothies or pureed as a topping for ice cream or yoghurt.
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