Saturday, August 27, 2011

Quick and Easy Method for Freezing Fresh Summer Fruit

Right now there's a lot of fresh summer fruit available that's perfect for freezing. This is the easiest way I know of to freeze fruit. The basic method is to freeze the fruit in a ziploc bag or freezer container. I like to use the one quart bags because it's enough for most recipes, and they stack easily. Think about freezing fresh strawberries by placing them on a cookie sheet first, for aesthetic reasons, but you can simply wash, hull and slice them. To freeze grapes, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, just rinse the berries, remove stems and trash, dry them and put them in freezer bags or containers. Frozen blueberries and grapes make fabulous eat-by-the-handful summer snacks, by the way.

For peaches (or apricots), you need to dip the fruit in boiling water for thirty seconds or so, so that you can easily peel them, them remove the pits and freeze the fruit in halves or slices. You need to use ascorbic acid with peaches and apricots to keep them from turning brown. I find that adding a teaspoon of ascorbic acid to a quarter cup or so of sugar (depending on the sweetness of the peaches) works well. You don't have to use much sugar; the amount depends on the peaches, but the sugar blended with the ascorbic acid does keep the peaches looking fresher. Add the mixture to the peaches, and stir them gently to dissolve the sugar and coat the peaches. The sugar, mixed with the natural juice of the peaches, makes the ascorbic acid adhere evenly to the peaches.You can freeze fresh mangoes this way too, though you can peel them without using a hot water bath. Do be cautious about handling the mango skin; many people are allergic to it.

Stack the containers in your freezer, and enjoy summer fruit all winter long. You can open a bag, remove some fruit, and reseal it as long as the fruit has not thawed. You can eat the peaches and berries as is, over ice cream, or cook with the fruit-and-juice. I love to make fruit cobbler or blueberry muffins in the middle of February with fruit that tastes as ripe and fresh as the day I froze it.