There’s no doubt that summer is the season to get fruity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the cream of the crop once the mercury starts to fall. Almost all fruits can be frozen and used during the winter months, with many lasting up to eight months or even a whole year in the freezer. The key to successful fruit freezing, however, is getting the technique right. This depends on the fruit you want to save and the type of freezer you have. It’s also worth remembering that all fruit needs to be kept constantly at a minimum of zero degrees Fahrenheit if you don’t want them to deteriorate, losing their taste and nutritional value. It’s worth investing in a cheap freezer thermometer, such as the Kitchen Craft Fridge and Freezer Thermometer with Suction Cups, available for £3.32 from Amazon, to allow you to check the temperature regularly, especially if you’re constantly opening and closing your freezer throughout the day.
There are lots of fruits in season right now, but if you’re not sure what is at its very best in August, for example, check out the web. The BBC Food website has a helpful section on seasonal ingredients. There are also lots of recipes if you want to try out some fruit before you freeze, such as Salted Caramel and Apple Rolls and Summer Berry Trifle. You could also talk to the farmers at your local market, who will be able to point you in the direction of the pick of the current crop. Check out the Local Foods website or the Farmers’ Market site for lots of details about markets and suppliers selling in your area.
Once you’ve decided on the fruit you want to freeze, you need to do it as quickly as you can in order to maintain the nutritional value and flavour. Start by gently washing and drying the fruit. You need to make sure it’s completely dry before you attempt to freeze it, and don’t soak it in water or it will lose its flavour and nutrients. With strawberries, such as the Duchy Organic Strawberries available from Waitrose for £2.50 a punnet, take the green tops off before freezing. Cherries, such as those available from Tesco for £2 a punnet, should be pitted before freezing. Blueberries, strawberries and blackberries can be put in the freezer whole.
Stone fruits, including nectarines, plums and peaches, need to be peeled and then pitted and sliced, and apricots freeze best after being pitted and cut in half. Berries are best protected from damage in the freezer if they can be laid out on a lined baking tray in a single layer to freeze and then sealed in bags or airtight containers. You can just place them straight into zip-locked freezer bags, such as Tesco Zip Seal Food And Freezer Bags, which cost £2 for 20, if space is short, although there is a squashing risk until they freeze hard. Freezing in a single layer will also make sure that the berries don’t stick together, making it easy to grab as many as you want to use at any one time rather than having to defrost a large lump. When you want to use them in recipes, toss them in a little bit of flour first.