Summer is the perfect season to enjoy fresh fruit. There’s nothing better than biting into a ripe peach, juicy watermelon, or fresh cantaloupe. But when the long days of summer end and fresh fruit becomes a distant memory, don’t fret. By taking the time to freeze some of summer’s gems, you can experience the next best thing to fresh fruit any time you want. And, as an added plus, freezing fruit is a great way to avoid having to throw out those tasty morsels you couldn’t get to in time. So if you’d like to save money, reduce waste, and enjoy your summer favorites through the long dark months of winter, come with us as we take you step-by-step through everything you need to know to start freezing your own fruit and enjoying summer’s bounty all year round.
Fresh vs. Frozen Fruit
If you’re wondering what happens to the nutritional value of all that fresh fruit once it hits the freezer, the good news is that studies have found that frozen fruit is actually a cost-effective and healthy alternative to fresh fruit.
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry looking at the nutritional variability among an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables and their frozen counterparts found no significant difference in the majority of fruits and vegetables tested.
Another study conducted by researchers at Michigan State University comparing the cost and nutrition of canned vs. frozen vs. fresh fruit found that the nutritional content of all three was comparable and both canned and frozen fruits were a cost-effective alternative to fresh fruit.
So now that you know you won’t be compromising nutrition by freezing fruit, let’s get to the nitty gritty of what it takes to store those summer favorites for winter.
Your Quick Guide to Freezing Fruit
Freezing fruit for later use in smoothies, cobblers, cakes, pies, muffins, and whatever else your heart desires is really pretty easy. With a few minor exceptions, most fruits freeze well using the following method:
- Wash ripe fruit with cold water and allow to dry.
- Peel fruits with skin or rinds and remove bruises and blemishes.
- Cut larger fruit into smaller pieces.
- Place a single layer of fruit on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and place in freezer overnight.
- Transfer frozen fruit to freezer bags and keep frozen until ready to use.
When freezing fruit, it’s important to remember that proper prepping is the best way to ensure a good result. For example, packing fruit in an airtight container with too much air and moisture can cause it to spoil, so be sure the fruit is dry and all air is squeezed out of the freezer bags before beginning the freezing process.
However, once frozen, your fruit should remain free of freezer burn and ready to enjoy in your favorite recipes—like this great smoothie recipe—for up to a year.
What Fruit Is Best for Freezing?
The good news is that almost any fruit can be frozen. What’s more, unlike your typical veggies, you don’t have to worry about blanching fruit before freezing—a process studies have found can decrease levels of water-soluble vitamins, especially vitamin C and thiamine.
However, some fruits take to freezing more easily than others. So, with that in mind, we’ve put together an extensive—though by no means exhaustive—list of some of the best fruits for freezing.
Blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries—if it ends in “berry” you can freeze it. However, kiwis, which are also berries, should be peeled before freezing.
To freeze apples, all you need to do is remove the skins and cores, slice the apples, and follow our quick guide to freezing fruit.
While most people prefer to remove the skin from stone fruits like peaches, apricots, and nectarines before freezing, it’s not required. However, cherries should be pitted before freezing.
Believe it or not, citrus fruits, including oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and grapefruit, are extremely versatile and can be frozen in a number of ways. After peeling, they can be frozen whole or in pieces. You can even freeze the rinds after peeling and use them later for making zest.
In addition, if you want to freeze just the juice, you can squeeze the fruit, add the juice to ice cube trays, and freeze. Then just add the cubes to a freezer bag and pull one—or two or three—out as you need them. The great part about this is that each cube comes basically premeasured, so note that if you’re freezing lemon juice, one cube equals about 1 tablespoon.
Even though melons contain a lot of water, cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon are all suitable for freezing. Just be sure to remove the rinds first and cut the fruit into smaller pieces before following our quick guide to freezing fruit.
Like many other fruits, pineapple is great frozen. Simply remove the rind and cut the pineapple into whatever size pieces you desire. In most cases, you’ll probably want to remove the core as well, but if you plan on making smoothies or other blended drinks, you should think about leaving the core in because it’s rich in nutrients and fiber.
Yes, even avocados can be frozen! If you like to mash or puree your avocados for guacamole, simply peel, remove the seed, add to a bowl with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, mash, and place in a freezer bag. But if you prefer your avocados in their original state, then just peel, seed, brush with lemon juice, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap before adding to a freezer bag. Whatever method you choose, be sure to squeeze out all the air before loading into the freezer.
The next time you have some extra fruit lying around, or you’re afraid your summer bounty is going to spoil before you can get through it all, don’t panic. Just freeze it. Then you can enjoy the best nature has to offer all year round!