How To Freeze Fruits And Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great source of fibers and important minerals. But who eats them for the health benefits? We eat fruits and vegetables because they are a gift of nature and they taste amazing. But preserving fruits and vegetables is a challenge in some states.
Freezing fruits and vegetables is a great way of preserving your favorite treats so that you can enjoy them throughout the year. But the process is somewhat complicated than just to throw them in the freezer. To maintain freshness and food value, you need to follow a few steps.
Why Freeze Them?
Freezing is the most distinguished method of preserving food and agriculture products without compromising the quality too much. Freezing fruits and vegetables is a better way to preserve them than canning or dehydration. The food value and nutrients are retained as much as possible when frozen rather than other methods of preservation.
Using the best quality raw materials is crucial if you want to freeze your fruits and vegetables for a longer period of time. The idea is to reduce the temperature well below the freezing point so bacteria and other microorganisms cannot start to eat your precious produce.
We will guide you through the ins and outs of freezing fruits and vegetables. So, the next time you don’t have to worry about preserving your favorite fruits and vegetables.
For How Long?
How long can you freeze your fruits and vegetables? The answer is it depends. Some fruits and vegetables will last longer than others. But how to know?
A good rule to remember is that citrus fruit lasts the least. All other fruits and vegetables will last up to 1.5 years if frozen properly. Using sealed bags or containers is mandatory to eliminate the chances of freezer burn. Sealed bags will also retain the moisture and freshness for their entire shelf life.
Know What it Takes
Before starting to freeze your fruits and vegetables for a long time, you need to understand some basic things. Fruits and vegetables are not supposed to be frozen. They are meant to be eaten as fresh as possible. So, when you are trying to freeze them, you are defying the law of nature.
The first thing to remember when freezing fruits and vegetables is to always go for ripe ones. No matter how well your freeze them, they will start to deteriorate after a certain time. So, picking the ripest ones for freezing is a general rule of thumb.
Proper packing is the next step in freezing fruits and vegetables. There are bags available that are designed to take the cold of a freezer. Go for them. If you can’t find them, regular plastic wraps or standard plastic bags will also work. Just make sure you use multiple layers.
Air is the biggest enemy when it comes to freezing fruits or vegetables. You can find cheap and effective sealed bags or vacuum containers that you can use for the freezing purpose. Also, sucking out the air from the bag is very important. The moist air inside could be a breeding ground for microorganisms.
Marking each bag could be a lifesaver for you. As you are choosing the freezing method, it’s safe to assume that you intend to keep them for a long time. It’s very normal to forget after a few months that how old each bag or container is. So, put the date on the bags.
We are going to separate fruits and vegetables sections for your better understanding. We will focus on the most common fruits and vegetables found on the market.
Although fruits and vegetables go hand in hand, the freezing process is a little different. First, let us focus on fruits. Always start with washing the fruits thoroughly. Any additives, dirt or bacteria will wash off in this process.
Sorting out damaged fruits is a crucial part of freezing. Damaged fruits mean they are already compromised, and they have bacteria and microorganisms built up. So, sorting them out will ensure that the rest of the fruits are fresh.
Now that you know the basics of freezing fruits, let’s take a look at some of the most common fruits and how you can freeze them seamlessly.
When thinking about fruits, usually the first thing that comes to our mind is apples. Apples are great in food value and very easy to find in your nearest store. Apples can be frozen as whole or unpeeled units. But we recommend freezing apples in slices.
Apples are prone to cultivating brown spots very easily. To avoid that, steaming the apples for 60 to 120 seconds will help. Dissolving ½ teaspoons of ascorbic acid in 3 tablespoons of water will create a solution that will keep the apple slices from browning.
Smaller berries freeze better as a whole. Blueberries, raspberries or blackberries can be frozen as they are. Larger berries like strawberries are better frozen when sliced up.
Freezing bananas is not always necessary. Because the banana is a fruit that you can find throughout the year. But if you absolutely need to freeze bananas, the method will depend on what you intend to do with them.
You can freeze whole bananas if you want to make banana bread or something similar. You can slice up the bananas and put them on a plain baking sheet if you need to make smoothies out of them sometime in the future. Whatever your intentions are, make sure you choose ripe bananas for freezing.
Citrus is a complicated fruit to freeze. They last the least amount of time when frozen. As it is slightly acidic, it’s hard to store them in general. Cut the citrus in half and keep the peel as it is. Removing the peel is also a valid option but you need to zest the rind first.
You can argue with us that tomato is not a fruit, it’s a vegetable. But we are not going to argue back. Because whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable is not the point here. The point is how you can freeze tomato without ruining the texture and the flavor.
When thawed, tomato skin will turn very hard. So, we recommend that you peed the skin before freezing them. Cutting an ‘X’ shape on the tomatoes and boiling them for half a minute will make it easier to peel the skin off.
- Cherries, Peaches, and Plums
It’s recommended removing the pit from fruits like these before freezing. The pit can create a bitter flavor while in the freezer. Removing the skin is also a valid step. Just blanch the fruits for 30 seconds and peel the skins off. You can cut the fruits into pieces as well if you think necessary.
Some fruits need special steps before freezing. Apples, nectarines, and peaches for example. Treating them with vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is necessary to ensure that the texture will remain the same. You can find ascorbic acid in the drugstore near you. Look for the powdered variant. Using acidulated water like lemon juice and water mixture is a good alternative to ascorbic acid.
Blanching or shocking is an essential part of freezing vegetables. Also, vegetables that are low in acid are best suited for freezing. If you don’t know how to blanch, let us teach you how. Learning how to blanch will help you along the way because you will need to blanch most of the vegetables you want to freeze.
Put the vegetables you want to freeze in boiling water for a few seconds. It’s called shocking the vegetables. Pull them out from the boiling water and put them in ice-cold water immediately. It will prevent the vegetables from cooking prematurely.
The whole purpose of blanching vegetables is to prevent different enzymes from damaging the flavor, nutrients, and color. Also, blanching will get rid of all the harmful microorganisms so your vegetables will stay fresh for longer.
- Bell Peppers
Let’s start with an easy one. It’s easy because you don’t need to blanch bell peppers. Remove the seeds and cut the bell peppers into pieces. Put them in a freezer friendly airtight bag and you are good to go.
- Cauliflower and Broccoli
Start with trimming the leaves off. Cut the vegetables in small pieces. The pieces should be around 1-1.5 inches in size. After cutting, blanch them for about 3 minutes. Put the pieces in iced water for a few minutes. Pack them up and freeze.
Corn is one of the easiest vegetables to freeze. You can put whole corns inside the freezer if you want. But we recommend removing the cob first. Pick the corns as fresh as possible and remove the silk and the ears. Blanch them for about 3-4 minutes and let them sit. After the cool down, remove the kernel with a sharp knife and freeze.
- Peas and Green Beans
Both of the vegetables need blanching before you can freeze them. Remove peas from their pods. Blanch for about 60 to 90 seconds. Freeze. Freezing green beans is similar. Blanch for about 2 to 3 minutes and freeze.
Squash is one of those vegetables that you can’t freeze when raw. We mean, you can. But they will taste nasty as the texture is compromised once frozen. So, cook the squash in a pressure cooker or an oven before freezing. Don’t forget to let them cool down.
If you want to bake the zucchini in the future, you need to blanch them whole for 60 to 120 seconds before freezing. But for any other use, you need to cut the zucchini into pieces and blanch for about 4 minutes until they become firm. Then freeze them in a freezer friendly bag.
Thawing the Frozen Goods
Frozen fruits and vegetables are not suitable to eat immediately. Some vegetables can go directly in boiling water after being taken out from the freezer. But it is a good idea to let any fruit or vegetable to thaw before cooking.
Thawing is the process of letting food item coming up to room temperature. Fruits like berries will lose the texture if you let them thaw completely. So, eat them before coming up to room temperature. Vegetables that hold water are great for freezing. Be aware of that.
Now you know how to properly freeze fruits and vegetables. Follow these methods the next time you buy some extra fruits or vegetables. Freezing them is always better than throwing them away.
- How to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables the Right Way – All Recipes
- The Right Way To Freeze Fruits And Vegetables So They Don’t Get Gross – Women’s Health