Freezing Produce Pt. 1 Fruit
When I think about homesteading and its connection with living our spirituality every day, I think about our connection with food and the celebration of the abundance we have been blessed with. I know for some, there is less abundance than for others, but the fact that we have food at all is a blessing as there are many who do not.
Food can provide with a very strong connection to the earth. I try to eat local as much as possible which also provides a connection to your immediate community. Depending on where you live, you won’t get local produce all year long. This is why I freeze as much as possible produce during the growing season.
This post is all about freezing fruit as it is more straightforward than vegetables. This is a great starting point for beginners as well a good refresher course or source of inspiration for pro’s.
There are many fruits we freeze in simple syrup. Peaches are a good example. I freeze them in simple syrup, with lemon juice because freezing them alone they will turn brown unless you add ascorbic acid to them before freezing. Both ways are fine, I just find it is sometimes difficult to get ascorbic acid that doesn’t contain any other additives. (Ascorbic acid is vitamin C) but lemons have the vitamin c and it’s all natural.
Recipe for Simple Syrup for Peaches, Cherries, nectarines, pears, and Plums (and the like)
This is the best for freezing fruit that is the closest to their natural sweetness. When freezing peaches and other large fruit, look for just ripe, sweet fruit that pulls away easily from the pit. One batch would take about 5 peaches. So think of that amount when you’re freezing any other fruit.
The lightest syrup (which is what I prefer, though you could make it heavier if you desired) is good for most fruit. The rule is the more tart the fruit, the sweeter the syrup should be.
We will use peaches at the example.
Light – 2 cups sugar to 6 cups water (yields 7 cups)
Medium – 3 cups sugar to 6 cups water (yields about 7.2 cups)
Heavy – 4 cups sugar to 6 cups water (Yields about 7.4 cups)
Wash and peel the fruit. You can boil things like peaches for a minute or 2 and then plunge them into ice water. When they are still a bit warm the peels will slip off with minimal effort. I usually don’t have a problem just peeling them with a paring knife, but if you’re struggling try this method. Remove pits.
Cut up your peaches. Place them in a bowl and mix in ¼ cup lemon juice. Stir gently until all of the fruit has been coated. Mix your peaches with the simple syrup, enough to cover the fruit and put in a freezer Ziplock bag. Label your peaches. Ex. Peaches, simple syrup, January 1st 2017. Make sure you get all the air out of the bag before freezing. Only freeze ¾ of the bag leaving room for the expansion that happens during the freezing process.
I would eat up the fruit within 3 months of freezing.
A fabulous way to freeze berries is flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment in a single layer until frozen solid. They can then be transferred into a container. Freezing them this way allows them to retain their shape and not clump together. Wash your fruit. If you are doing strawberries, hull them first. You can do blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.
Label your containers clearly so you know when you made them. I would eat up the berries within 3 months.
As fruit and berries come into season freeze them at that time. This is when they are at the height of their ripeness and quality and produce it always cheapest when it is in season.
A bonus side note: cranberries only come out around November and December. I can usually get them for around $2 a bag. I just throw them straight into the freezer in a freezer bag. You don’t have to remove the bag they came in. I stock up for the rest of the winter. You can make cranberry sauce all winter long, or my husband’s favourite: lemon cranberry muffins at any time. What a treat!