There are few things more glorious than strolling down the farmer’s market, enjoying all the bounty of the summer’s fruit. But how do we extend this bounty all year round? Freezing fruit is a great way to extend the shelf life of your fruit and allow you to enjoy local, seasonal fruit year round.
Is it bad to freeze fruit?
Here’s the good thing about freezing fruit: no matter what fruit tickles your fancy, all fruit can be frozen! Depending on the fruit you freeze, however, there might be different optimal ways to use them once they are frozen and/or thawed. We’ll get into how to use your frozen fruit in a bit, but first … here’s how to do it.
How do you freeze fresh fruit?
First up, stock up on fruit from the farmer’s market (or the grocery store, but the more local, the healthier for you and the planet!). When I know I am going to be freezing fruit, I like to pick the ugly or very ripe fruits, and often farmers will even give you a discount for these items. One of my favorite farmer’s market vendors sells “mushy” peaches, which are perfectly ripe and ready to freeze at their most sweet and juicy, for less than half the price of their non-mushy counter parts. If you don’t see a sign for this, just ask! They may have them hidden in the back for us in-the-know people.
The best way to freeze fresh fruit requires an extra step than just throwing it in the freezer— but it’s well worth it!
Here’s the super easy process:
- Wash, dry, and then slice up your fruit (removing cores, stems, and all the things you wouldn’t want to eat!).
- Place the cut up fruit in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with compostable parchment paper or a silicone sheet liner.
- Freeze the fruit on the baking sheet for about 2-3 hours, or until fully frozen. Pre-freezing the fruit on a tray prevents the fruit from sticking together so you don’t end up with one big blob. We’ve probably all been there, and it’s kind of a pain!
- Once frozen, transfer pieces into a storage vessel— might I recommend a Stasher bag? I love freezing in Stasher bags because it’s easy to see what’s inside, and I can even label it with what it is and when I froze it using a dry erase marker!
How long can you store frozen fruit?
Frozen fruit will remain safe to eat for an extended period of time, but you may want to enjoy it within six to nine months.
When you’re ready to use the fruit, you can either thaw it or throw it directly into recipes frozen. Of course one of the easiest ways to use frozen fruit is in a smoothie— I love using frozen fruit so I don’t have to add ice. I also love to add frozen fruit into my morning oatmeal— it thaws as the oatmeal cooks, or use it top yogurt or ice cream. Frozen blueberries are delicious in cereal as well. Frozen grapes and blueberries can even be eaten straight from the freezer.
How do you thaw frozen fruit?
If you’d like to thaw the fruit, you can do so in the fridge or by running the container under cold water. Make sure to only thaw as much as you want to use— you won’t want to freeze it again. Most fruit changes consistency when frozen then thawed, so you may not be eating previously frozen fruit in the way you would fresh fruit.
For example, bananas get mushy when thawed, but work perfectly in smoothies, nice cream, banana bread, oatmeal, pancakes, and more. I love to buy the browning bananas from the grocery store and slice them to freeze for all types of recipes. Despite the changing consistency, there are so many ways you can still enjoy whatever fruit you’d like to thaw. Frozen and thawed fruit is great for making cobblers, compotes, adding to baked goods or pancakes, pies, and more.
Another way to use frozen fruit and save time is to create smoothie packs in the freezer. This follows the same process as outlined above to pre-freeze the fruit on trays, but instead of separating and storing frozen fruit by the variety of fruit, you can create Stasher bags that have the perfect mix of smoothie fruit. You can store one smoothie’s worth of frozen fruit per sandwich Stasher bag, and when you’re ready to enjoy, dump the whole bag into the blender, add your favorite nut or dairy milk, a protein powder if you so desire, and blend. Or store a smoothie blend mix in a half-gallon or stand-up Stasher bag (shake it up so all the fruits are mixed up), and use a cup or two of the mix in your smoothies!
You may be wondering why not to just buy frozen fruit in the first place. Well, that’s certainly an option! But buying local fruit allows you to support local farmers and optimize the health benefits, while lowering the environmental impact since it doesn’t have to travel so far. Also freezing your own fruit helps you avoid the plastic bag that store-bought frozen fruit comes in which can’t be recycled. It’s better for all involved to freeze your own, and it just takes a few minutes!
Freezing your fruit is easy and affordable, and helps you ensure that you have a steady stash of what you need in your freezer at all times. Who doesn’t want a perfectly sweet peach cobbler in the dead of winter? Count me in!
This post was written by Sara Weinreb. She is the host of the Medium Well podcast, sustainability and design thinking consultant, contributor at Forbes, and shares it all on Instagram @saraweinreb.
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