Consumer and Consumer and Family Sciences

Consumer and Consumer and Family Sciences
Purdue Extension
Consumer and
Family Sciences
Department of Foods and
Freezing Fruit at Home
Freezing is one of the simplest and least time-consuming ways to preserve fruit.
Adapted by
April C. Mason. Ph.D.
and William D. Evers,
Ph.D., RD
Frozen fruit is convenient to serve on short notice because most of the preparation
is done before freezing.
Most fruits can be frozen satisfactorily. The quality of the product will vary with
the kind of packaging, quality of fruit, stage of maturity, and type of prefreezing
Generally, flavor is well-retained by freezing. However, the texture of frozen fruit
may be somewhat softer than that of fresh fruit. Some fruits require special
prefreezing treatment to prevent undesirable changes in color, texture, or flavor
during freezing and thawing. Slow freezing causes an inferior product and possible
spoilage. If you have doubts about how well a fruit will freeze, test freeze three or
four packages, using the directions given in this publication. Sample the food after
freezing. This test shows only the effect of the freezing process. To test the effect of
storage, try keeping the fruit frozen for a week and then a month to see if the
quality is acceptable to you.
Selecting the right freezing
Before you prepare fruit for freezing, assemble
the containers you are going to use. No single
factor in freezing is more important than the use
of good packaging techniques and materials to
protect food against moisture loss and transfer of
To retain highest quality in frozen food,
packaging materials should prevent evaporation.
Glass, metal, and rigid plastic containers made
especially for freezing prevent evaporation. They
are excellent packaging materials for freezing.
Most bags, wrapping materials, and waxed
cartons manufactured for freezing are sufficiently
moisture-resistant and vapor-resistant to retain a
satisfactory quality in fruit during storage.
Ordinary waxed papers and paper cartons from
purchased dairy products are not sufficiently
moisture- and vapor-resistant to be suitable for
freezer packaging.
All containers should be easy to seal and
leakproof. Packaging materials must be durable
and must not become brittle and crack at low
Preparing fruit for freezing
It is best to prepare only enough fruit for a few
containers at one time, especially with those
fruits that darken rapidly.
All fruit needs to be washed in several
changes of cold water. Wash a small quantity
at one time to avoid undue handling. Lift
washed fruit out of the water, and drain
thoroughly. Do not let the fruit stand in the
water; some fruits lose food value and flavor
and some get water-soaked. Once it has been
washed, peel, trim, pit, and slice the fruit, and
follow the directions for freezing fruit given in
Table 2.
For any preparation of the fruit it is best to
use aluminum, earthenware, enameled ware,
glass, nickel, or stainless steel. Do not use
galvanized ware in direct contact with fruit or
fruit juices. The acid in fruit may dissolve zinc
from the equipment into the fruit, and this might
be unhealthy. Metallic off-flavors may result from
the use of iron utensils, or chipped enameled ware.
Syrup, sugar, and
unsweetened packing
Most fruits have better texture and flavor if
packed in sugar or syrup. It's best to use fruits
packed in a syrup for dessert. Fruits packed in dry
sugar or unsweetened are best for most cooking
purposes, because there is less liquid in the
Unsweetened pack may yield a lower-quality
product. However, directions are given for such a
pack, whenever it is satisfactory, because the pack
is often required for special diets. Some fruits,
such as gooseberries, currants, cranberries, and
rhubarb, pack well with or without sugar.
Syrup pack
For some mild-flavored fruits, lighter syrups are
desirable to prevent masking of flavor. Heavier
syrups may be needed for very sour fruits. Table 1
will give you an idea of proportions to use for
various syrups.
A 40 percent syrup is recommended for most
fruits. Dissolve sugar in hot or cold water. If hot
water is used, cool syrup before using. Syrup may
be made the day before and kept cold in the
refrigerator. Allow approximately 1 cup of syrup
for each quart of fruit.
Table 1. Syrups for Freezing Fruit
All measurements are in cups.
Type of
Yield of syrup
51 / 3
21 / 2
51 / 2
43 / 4
61 / 2
73 / 4
83 / 4
82 / 3
* In general, up to 1/4 of the sugar may be replaced by corn
syrup. A larger proportion of corn syrup may be used if a very
bland, light-colored type is selected.
Sugar pack
Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit. The amount of
sugar to use is given in the specific directions in
Table 2. Turn the fruit gently over and over until
each piece is completely coated with sugar. Put fruit
and juice into the container.
Unsweetened pack
Pack prepared fruit into containers, without
added liquid or sweetening, or cover with water
containing ascorbic acid. Crushed or sliced fruit
may be packed in its own juice without sweetening.
Keeping fruit from darkening
Some fruits darken during preparation and
freezing if not pretreated. Antidarkening treatments
are given when necessary as part of the directions
for freezing fruits. Several types of antidarkening
treatments are recommended, because all fruits are
not protected equally well by all treatments.
Ascorbic acid
For most light-colored fruits that need
antidarkening treatment, ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
may be used. This is very effective in preserving
color and flavor of fruit and adds nutritive value.
Crystalline ascorbic acid is recommended and is
available at drugstores. To use, dissolve ascorbic
acid in a little cold water. The amount to use is
listed under directions for freezing fruits in Table 2.
Solutions of ascorbic acid should be made up as
• Syrup pack. Add the dissolved ascorbic acid to
the cold syrup shortly before using. Stir it in gently
so you won't stir in air. Keep syrup in refrigerator
until used.
Table 2. Preparation for Freezing Fruit
Apples (fullflavored, firm,
crisp, ripe, free
from bruises and
Wash, peel, and core.
Syrup pack: Slice apples directly into cold 40% syrup to which 1/2 teaspoon of crystalline ascorbic acid for
each quart of syrup is added. Press fruit down in containers, and add enough syrup to cover.
Sugar pack: To prevent darkening during preparation, slice apples into a solution of 2 tablespoons of salt to
a gallon of water. Hold in this solution no more than 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. To retard darkening during
freezing, steam single layers of sliced apples 11/2 to 2 minutes. Cool in cold water, and drain. Sprinkle 1/2 cup
of sugar over each quart of apple slices, and mix well.
Unsweetened pack: Follow directions for sugar pack, omitting sugar.
Applesauce: Pack cool applesauce into container.
Apricots (firm,
-ripe, and
Sort, wash, halve, and pit. Peel, and slice if desired. If apricots are not peeled, heat them in boiling water 1/2
minute to keep skins from toughening during freezing. Cool in cold water, and drain.
Syrup pack: Slice apricots directly into cold 40% syrup to which 3/4 teaspoon of crystalline ascorbic acid is
added for each quart of syrup.
Sugar pack: Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of crystalline ascorbic acid into 1/4 cup of cold water, and sprinkle over 1
quart of fruit. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar over each quart of apricots, and mix well.
Young berries
(full, ripe,
flavorful fruit)
Wash gently, discarding immature and overripe berries. Remove stems and leaves. Drain well. If desired,
steam blueberries, huckleberries, and elderberries for 1 minute to tenderize skins and make a better-flavored
Syrup pack: Cover berries with cold 40% to 50% syrup, depending on flavor and sweetness of fruit. Lighter
syrups are desirable to prevent masking of flavor for mild-flavored berries. Sour berries require a heavier
Sugar pack: Sprinkle 3/4 cup of sugar on 1 quart of berries, and gently mix.
Unsweetened dry pack: Pack berries into containers.
Crushed berries or sauce: Crush berries, and sweeten to taste.
Cherries (wellcolored, treeripened; red
varieties best for
Stem, sort, wash, and, if desired, pit. Sweet cherries should be prepared quickly to avoid color and flavor
Syrup pack: Cover sour cherries with 60% to 65% syrup and sweet cherries with 40% syrup. To improve
color retention in light cherries, add 1/2 teaspoon of crystalline ascorbic acid to each quart of syrup.
Sugar pack: Add 3/4 cup of sugar to each quart of whole cherries, and mix well.
Crushed cherries: Add 1 to 11/2 cups of sugar to each quart of sour cherries. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar and 1/4
teaspoon of crystalline ascorbic acid to each quart of sweet cherries. Mix well.
• Sugar pack. Sprinkle the dissolved ascorbic
acid over the fruit just before adding sugar.
• Unsweetened pack. Sprinkle the dissolved
ascorbic acid over the fruit, and mix thoroughly just
before packing. If fruit is packed in water, dissolve
the ascorbic acid in the water.
• Crushed fruits and sauces. Add dissolved
ascorbic acid to the fruit preparation and mix.
Ascorbic acid mixtures
There are special antidarkening preparations on
the market — usually made of ascorbic acid and
citric acid mixed with sugar. Follow the
manufacturer's directions when using these
Citric acid and lemon juice
For a few fruits, citric acid or lemon juice make
a suitable antidarkening agent. However, neither is
as effective as ascorbic acid. Citric acid in crystalline or powdered form is available at drugstores.
When using it, dissolve citric acid in a little cold
water before adding to the fruit according to
directions for that fruit.
Table 2. Preparation for Freezing Fruit
Follow directions for berries.
ripe melon)
Cut in half, remove seeds, and peel. Cut melons into slices, cubes, or balls.
Syrup pack: Cover melons with cold 30% syrup.
Nectarines and
Peaches (firm,
ripe, wellcolored, no green
color on peaches)
Sort, wash, pit, and peel. For a better product, peel peaches without a boiling-water dip. Slice fruit into
syrup or antidarkening solution to prevent darkening. Work with one container at a time to reduce exposure
to air.
Syrup pack: Slice directly into cold 40% syrup to which 3/4 teaspoon of crystalline ascorbic acid is added
for each quart of syrup.
Sugar pack: Follow directions for sugar pack under apricots, but use 2/3 cup of sugar.
Water pack: Slice directly into container. Cover with cold water containing 1 teaspoon of crystalline
ascorbic acid for each quart of liquid.
Pears (wellripened, firm but
not hard)
Wash, peel, and quarter. Heat in boiling 40% syrup for 1 or 2 minutes. Drain, and cool.
Syrup pack: Cover pears with cold 40% syrup to which 3/4 teaspoon of crystalline ascorbic acid is added
for each quart of cold syrup.
soft, ripe)
Sort, wash, peel, and cut into sections. Press the fruit through a sieve. Add 1/8 teaspoon of crystalline
ascorbic acid or 11/2 teaspoons of crystalline citric acid to each quart of persimmon sauce to help prevent
darkening and flavor loss. Sweeten if desired.
Sauce pack: Pack persimmon sauce into container.
Rhubarb (firm,
tender, wellcolored stalks,
good flavor, new
Wash, trim, and cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces or into lengths to fit the package. Heating rhubarb in boiling
water for 1 minute and cooling promptly helps retain color and flavor.
Syrup pack: Cover raw or preheated rhubarb with cold 40% syrup.
Unsweetened dry pack: Pack raw or preheated rhubarb into containers.
Sauce pack: Pack sweetened sauce into containers.
Heat treatment
For some fruits, such as apples, steaming for a
few minutes over boiling water controls darkening.
Other fruits, such as rhubarb and pears, may be
heat treated in boiling water or syrup to provide for
better color and flavor retention during freezing.
Packing procedure
There are some final steps in packing the fruit
into containers. The object is to maximize the
space without decreasing the quality.
• Pack cold fruit into cold, meal-size containers.
Having materials cold speeds up freezing and
helps retain the natural color, flavor, and texture of
• Pack fruit tightly to exclude air from the
• Keep fruit under syrup, juice, or water by
placing a small piece of crumpled freezer paper or
other water-resistant wrapping material on top of
the packed fruit. Press fruit down before closing
and sealing containers.
• Allow the recommended head space for
expansion during freezing (see Table 3).
• If you pack fruit in bags, press air out of the
unfilled part of the bag. Press firmly to prevent air
from getting back in. Seal immediately, allowing
the head space recommended for the product.
• Keep sealing edges free from moisture or food
so that you can make a good closure. Seal carefully.
• Label packages plainly. Include the name of the
fruit, date it was packed, and type of pack if you
use more than one kind. Use gummed labels,
colored tape, crayons, or waxed pens made especially for labeling frozen food packages.
Directions for freezing fruits
Table 2 contains specific directions for preparing
fruit for freezing. The syrup pack is generally
preferred for dessert use, and a dry sugar or
unsweetened pack is best for most cooking purposes. To prevent color and flavor changes when
using the syrup pack, be sure fruit is completely
covered with syrup.
When syrup packing light-colored fruits, slice
them directly into cold syrup, starting with 1/2 cup
of syrup to a pint container. Press fruit down, and
add more syrup if necessary to completely cover
fruit. All fruit should be packaged in a durable,
moisture- and vapor-resistant container. Allow
adequate head space. Freeze as soon after packaging as possible.
Loading the freezer
Freeze fruit as soon after it is packed as possible.
Freeze at 0o F or below. Put no more unfrozen food
into a home freezer than will freeze within 24
hours. This is about two or three pounds of food for
each cubic foot of freezer space. Overloading slows
down the rate of freezing, and foods that freeze too
slowly may lose quality or spoil. For quickest
freezing, place packages against freezing plates or
coils, and leave a little space between packages so
air can circulate freely.
After packages are frozen, you may rearrange
them so they are stored close together. Most fruit
maintains high quality for eight to 12 months at 0o
F. Unsweetened fruit loses quality faster than that
packed in sugar or syrup. Longer storage will not
make food unfit for use, but may impair quality.
It is a good idea to keep an up-to-date list of
foods in your freezer by listing the foods as you put
them in and checking them off as you remove them
from the freezer.
the sealed container to thaw. Serve as soon as it is
thawed; a few ice crystals in the fruit improve the
texture for eating raw.
A one-pound package of frozen fruit packed in
syrup may be thawed in the refrigerator in six to
eight hours, at room temperature in two to four
hours, or in a pan of cool water in a half hour to an
hour. Turn the package several times for more even
Fruit packed with dry sugar thaws slightly faster.
Both sugar and syrup packs thaw faster than
unsweetened packs.
Table 3. Head Space (in Inches)
Needed for Freezing Fruit
Type of Pack
Type of Container
Wide top*
Narrow Top**
Quart Pint
Liquid pack (fruit 1/2
packed in sugar,
syrup, water, or
Dry pack (fruit
without added
sugar or liquid)
Crushed or sauce
* Tall, straight, flared container with wide top opening
**Container with narrow top opening
Thaw fruit until pieces can be loosened. Then
cook as you would cook fresh fruit. If there is not
enough juice to prevent scorching, add water as
needed. Allow for any sweetening that was added
before freezing if the recipe calls for sugar.
Frozen fruit often has more juice than called for
in recipes for baked products using fresh fruit. Use
only part of the juice, or add more thickening for
the extra juice.
Using frozen fruit
Using crushed fruit and sauces
Serve crushed fruit or sauce as raw fruit after it
is partially or completely thawed. Or use it after
thawing as a topping for ice cream or cakes, as a
filling for sweet rolls, or for jam.
Serving uncooked
Frozen fruit needs only to be thawed if it is to be
served raw. For best color and flavor, leave fruit in
This publication was originally prepared by
Betty Rehfeld, Ph.D., former Extension Specialist,
Foods and Nutrition, Cooperative Extension
Service, Purdue University.
Related publications
Contact the Extension office in your county for
copies of the following related publications, or
download pdf files directly from the World Wide
CFS-131-W, Uncooked Jams
CFS-584-W, Let's Preserve Pears
CFS-585-W, Let's Preserve Cherries
CFS-586-W, Let's Preserve Strawberries
CFS-587-W, Let's Preserve Berries
CFS-588-W, Let's Preserve Peaches, Apricots,
CFS-589-W, Let's Preserve Apples
CFS-590-W, Let’s Preserve Fruit Pie Fillings
CFS-591-W, Let’s Preserve Jelly, Jam, Spreads
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