The Ultimate Guide To Freezing Seasonal Fruits

Got an extra batch of fresh fruit you want to keep for the months ahead? Here’s what experts suggest.

Shraddha Varma

Every season in India brings with it a bounty of fresh, local fruits. The choices available are simply amazing. Whether you like the tartness of jamuns and cherries, the sweetness of mangoes, or the sweet-sour goodness of peaches, these delectable flavours are never hard to find. 

Unless you’re planning to fly to different parts of the world for buying fruit, some of your favourites may be off-season at some point or the other. With some research and loads of expert inputs from chef Suvir Saran, chef Natasha Gandhi, chef Anees Khan and chef Dwipen Goswami of Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Goa, we’ve found an easy and economical way to help you enjoy a few fruits even after the season ends: freezing fruits. 

Think mango nice cream or peach crumble in winter, jamun shrikhand in spring and much more. 

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How to freeze fruits – a step-by-step guide

  1. Select high-quality ripe fruit/fruits for freezing.
  2. Wash the fruit under running water and pat it dry thoroughly.
  3. Peel, stem, remove pits, and uniformly slice/chop the produce, and carve away any undesirable spots or bruises.
  4. Pat the pieces dry again with a paper or cloth towel and remove as much moisture as possible. Don’t press them too hard. Make sure to remove excess moisture carefully to reduce the formation of ice crystals on its surface when frozen.
  5. Now, line a tray with parchment paper and spread the pieces of fruit in a single layer on it.
  6. Pop them in the freezer for at least three to four hours.
  7. Once frozen, bring them out of the freezer and transfer the fruits into an airtight container or a resealable bag.
  8. Label the container/bag with the date of freezing and your fruit is ready to go back into the freezer.

Another way of freezing fruits, especially the ones with high water content like berries, can be by coating them with sugar to preserve their flavour. Once the fruits are coated with sugar, you chill them for an hour in the freezer, bring them out, pack them in an airtight container or resealable bag and return them to the freezer for storage.  

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Tips to freeze fruits

  1. The preparation method for certain fruits may differ. This depends on the texture, water content and mass. Also, some fruits like apples can be stored with their skin on, while in the case of citrus fruits, you have to let go off the peels.
  2. Your freezer’s temperature should ideally be at or below -18 degrees Celsius.
  3. Dry packed fruits (produce frozen following the steps mentioned above) will become soft when thawed and are best for cooking.
  4. Do not use galvanised equipment in direct contact in case of these fruits because the acid in the fruit dissolves zinc, and that, in large amounts, can be harmful to the human body.
  5. Frozen fruits once thawed must never go back into the freezer.
  6. Air and moisture are the biggest enemies of frozen foods, ensure using appropriate packaging such as freezer bags and airtight containers to protect food and prevent freezer burn.
  7. Try and remove as much air you can from the freezer bags.
  8. Avoid placing the fruits beside smelly foods because there is a possibility that they can soak in their taste.

Best fruits to freeze

1. Berries

Berries such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries can be frozen whole. The larger ones like strawberries can be sliced or diced. 

2. Apples

Apples can be frozen whole, without peeling. However, for convenience of use, you must slice the fruit. Now, apples tend to turn brown when sliced or diced, experts suggest you steam them for a couple of minutes and then get on to the freezing process.

3. Stone fruits 

Cherries, peaches, plums and jamuns are another set of fruits that are great for freezing. However, you must remove the pits before doing so, because pits impart a bitter flavour. 

4. Mango

You can puree it to make aamras or chop it into bite-sized pieces. 

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Why not just buy frozen fruit from the supermarket? 

Sure, you can buy it from the supermarket but it is important to note here that freezing fruits at home gives you control over quality, quantity, and price. For instance, during the peak of mango season, you may manage to get fresh, good-sized fruits at a reasonable rate. So you can buy them then and take some time out to prepare and freeze, that way, you won’t have to pay an exorbitant off-season rate. 

Nutritional advice

Ekta Sood, a nutritionist, lifestyle coach and founder of Diet Dazzle, points out that freezing fruits and vegetables may be a popular trend but you need to understand that certain fruits and vegetables are seasonal for a reason. 

“During summer, our body perspires to maintain its temperature and as a result, we feel dehydrated. Summer fruits such as mangoes, watermelons and litchis are rich in water content and act as cooling agents. Similarly, in winter you need protection against seasonal flu and hence, vitamin C and antioxidant-rich foods must be included in your diet. Sweet lime, orange, strawberries and guava help build immunity,” she explains. 

In conclusion, she recommends giving priority to fruits that are in the season unless you live in a place/region where access to fresh produce is a challenge. “If at all you are planning to freeze fruits, follow expert advice so that you preserve not just the flavour but also their nutritional value.”

Photo: Shutterstock
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