Summer is the perfect season to enjoy fresh fruit. There is nothing better than biting into a fresh peach or making a colorful fruit salad. If you tend to get melancholic at the end of summer because you cannot enjoy your favorite fruit until next year, consider freezing fruit. You can make delicious fruit smoothies all year long and freezing fruit is easy!
Freezing fruit is an excellent way to get all the vitamins your body needs during every season, but it is also a great way to avoid wasting food. Who hasn’t bought too much fresh produce and ended up having to throw some away because they turned too quickly? Open the fridge and check expiration dates. If you got a good deal and bought two containers of strawberries instead of one, for example, you can freeze the extra batch and enjoy the sweetness later in the year.
Fresh Fruit vs. Frozen Fruit
The first difference between fresh fruit and frozen fruit is that they are picked at different times.
Fresh fruit is picked before it is mature, so it has time to ripen during transportation. This process does not allow fruit to develop its full capacity of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In the United States, it may take several weeks for the fruit to reach the final destination. When fruit is transported, it is stored at low temperatures and chemicals are used to avoid spoiling. A major reason why eating local fresh fruit is the healthiest choice!
Fruit that has to be frozen is picked when it is fully ripe and packed with nutrients. Vegetables are often blanched before freezing to inhibit loss of flavor, cleanse the surface, and delay loss of vitamins. Fruit does not undergo this process because it would affect its texture. Instead, fruit is usually treated with a form of vitamin C or added sugar for preservation.
Nutrients in Frozen Fruit
Freezing fruit may help to retain nutrients, but some of them begin to disappear when the fruit is stored for more than a year. A study that appeared in the journal Science of Food and Agriculture found that frozen fruit loses fewer nutrients initially, but it loses more nutrients during storage because of oxidation. In the second part of this review, researchers examined the changes in carotenoids, vitamin E, minerals, and fiber. Results showed that nutritional content is similar in fresh, canned, and frozen fruit.
Another study analyzed the presence of magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and copper in strawberries and blueberries. Half of them were kept fresh, and the other half was frozen. Results showed no significant nutritional difference between fresh and frozen fruit. Additional research on the effect of freezing on antioxidant activity suggests that fruit may retain its antioxidant properties while losing water-soluble vitamins.
A team of researchers in Turkey investigated the effects of hot air and freeze-drying methods on the strawberry tree. Results showed that freeze-drying is an excellent method for retaining the nutritional value and antioxidant activity of fruit. One study on nutrition and cost comparison of canned, frozen, and fresh fruit found that nutritional content was similar across the three packaging options. These findings suggest that frozen fruit is a cost-effective and nutritious option for a healthy diet.
Best Way to Freeze Fruit
Freezing fruit for smoothies is easy and fast. Follow this method:
- Wash fruit and dry with a soft cloth.
- Peel skin and eliminate bruises.
- Cut the fruit into small pieces.
- Place fruit on a tray covered with parchment paper.
- Cover fruit with plastic wrap.
- Place the tray in the freezer overnight.
- Remove tray from the freezer and transfer fruit to plastic bags.
Keep in mind that exposing fruit to air and moisture before freezing can spoil fruit. Squeeze air out of plastic bags before sealing them. Frozen fruit lasts for up to a year.
When you make smoothies sometime in the dark winter months, you will be able to add delicious frozen fruit to it. Follow these tips to make scrumptious smoothies with frozen fruit:
- Bananas and yogurt make smoothies more creamy
- Add something healthier, like peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter.
- Pair your smoothie with a good source of protein, like eggs or oats.
Here is a great smoothie recipe that you can enjoy all year long!
Should I Buy Frozen Fruit or Freeze It Myself?
You can buy frozen fruit, but freezing your own fruit has great advantages. You control the process, so you can make sure the fruit is properly cleaned and dried, with no chemicals or added sugar used. And you can try the fruit to evaluate taste and decide the size of the pieces when you cut it!