If you have trees in your garden and you have a surplus of fruit, you can freeze it. This is the easiest way to preserve fruit, as most fruit don’t even need blanching.
There are different ways you can use to freeze fruit and it depends on what you intend to do with it when you thaw it. You may want to make jam, or use it in fruit salads, or in pies.
One way is to put the fruit in syrup and then freeze. You can make a heavy syrup by using 2 cups sugar to 2 ½ cups water, or a lighter syrup using 1 cup sugar to 2 ½ cups water.
Absorbic Acid (vitamin C) is used to cold syrup before adding the fruit, to help it retain its color. It is used with fruits such as peaches and pears. Add ¼ teaspoon of Absorbic Acid to 2 ½ cups of syrup.
Another way to freeze fruit is to layer them with castor (superfine) sugar. When you thaw out the fruit, you will have a nice syrup from the sugar and the juice of the fruit. This is ideal for fruit that you wish to use in fruit salads, or for pies. When you intend to serve the fruit raw, thaw it slowly in the fridge in a container. Most fruits are best when eaten very cold or even slightly frozen. You will need about six hours to thaw a half a kilo pack in the fridge.
If you wish to cook the fruit, you can leave the pack at room temperature until the fruit or the pieces of fruit separate. Simmer them gently so that they remain reasonably whole.
How to prepare fruit for the freezer:
Apples – Peel, core and slice the apples. To prevent discoloration drop them in salt water. You can 1) blanch them for 1 minute, drain thoroughly, and pack in polythene bags or containers. 2) Stew with sugar: 1 cup to 1 kilo apples and pack in polythene bags or containers. 3) Stew until tender with or without sugar, until you have a puree, cool and pack as above. Storage time: 12 months.
Avocado Pears – Freeze only in puree form. Remove stone, scoop out flesh and mash with lemon juice – 1 tablespoon for each avocado. Pack in small polythene containers. Storage time: 3 months. You can use the puree for avocado dip, sandwich fillings or soup.
Blackberries – The fruit must be ripe and first and must be picked on a dry day. Wash the fruit and dry thoroughly. Pack in small quantities in polythene containers. Storage time: 12 months. Use it in any kind of pudding or sauce.
Cherries – The red cherries freeze better than black. Choose sweet, ripe cherries. White cherries are better if you pack them in heavy syrup. Remove the stalks and wash. If you don’t stone them, you can pack them in polythene bags. If stoned, layer them in dry sugar. You will need ½ cup sugar to ½ kilo stoned cherries. Pack in polythene containers. Or you can cover the fruit with heavy syrup and pack in polythene containers. Storage time: 12 months. You can use the fruit in pies or puddings. If you pack it in syrup, you can use it for topping on ice-cream etc.
Currants (black, red and white) – The fruit must be ripe but firm. Remove stems, wash and dry thoroughly. You can pack them in polythene containers if you wish to make jam at a later date. For pies and puddings you can layer the fruit in dry sugar (3/4 cup to half a kilo of fruit) and pack in polythene containers. You can cover the fruit with heavy syrup and pack them in polythene containers. After thawing, it can be served as stewed currants. And finally you can stew the fruit with sugar (3/4 cup to half a kilo of fruit) and reduce to puree. Cool and pack in polythene containers. Can be used for flavoring ice cream or added in fruit drinks. Storage time: 12 months.
Gooseberries – it is best to use slightly under-ripe fruit for making jam, for pies and stewing. Top and tail the fruit, wash and dry thoroughly. Pack in polythene bags. You can use the fruit for making jam, pies and stewing. Or you can stew the gooseberries ( ½ – ¾ cup sugar for half a kilo of fruit). Simmer until you have a puree. Cool and pack in small polythene containers. You can use it for flavoring ice creams. Storage time: 12 months.
Next week: More tips on freezing fruit