This information has been reviewed and adapted for use in South Carolina by P.H. Schmutz, HGIC Information Specialist, and E.H. Hoyle, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Clemson University. (New 12/99. Reviewed 09/05.)
Harvested, fresh fruits continue to undergo chemical changes that can cause spoilage and deterioration of the product. This is why these products should be frozen as soon after harvest as possible and at their peak degree of ripeness.
Many fresh fruits, including peaches, apples, pears, plums, nectarines and sweet cherries will darken if their cut surfaces are exposed to air. This darkening will continue in the freezer if an anti-darkening treatment is not used. Because fruits are usually served raw, they are not blanched like vegetables. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) may be added to packing liquids or sprinkled on cut fruit surfaces to prevent darkening. Ascorbic acid is available at drug stores and is the major active ingredient in commercial anti-darkening preparations such as Fruit FreshTM.
Other methods to control browning include soaking the fruit in dilute vinegar solutions or coating the fruit with sugar and lemon juice. However, these latter methods do not prevent browning as effectively as treatment with ascorbic acid. Apples and rhubarb may be cooked to prevent browning.
Rancid oxidative flavors may develop through contact of the frozen product with air. This problem can be prevented by using a wrapping material that does not permit air to pass into the product and by removing as much air as possible from the freezer bag or container before freezing.
1. Gather the necessary materials
2. Prepare fruit for one container at a time. Follow directions for individual fruits in Table 2.
3. Pack fruit for freezer. Most fruits have better texture if they are packed in sugar or syrup, however sugar is not required for preservation. Some fruits, including blueberries, cranberries, currants, figs, gooseberries, raspberries, rhubarb and steamed apples yield high-quality packs without sugar.
Your selection of the way to pack the fruit will also depend on the intended use. Fruits packed in syrup are generally best for uncooked desserts; those packed in dry sugar or unsweetened are best for most cooking purposes because there is less liquid in the product.
Artificial sweeteners — like saccharin or aspartame — may give fruits a sweet flavor but do not furnish the beneficial effects of sugar, such as color protection and thickness of syrup. Artificial sweeteners can be added just before serving.
4. Seal containers.
5. Label each container with name of product & date package. Use the fruit within eight to twelve months for best quality. Unsweetened fruits lose quality faster than fruits packed in sugar or syrups.
|Fruit||Quarts of fruit yielded per bushel||Pints of fruit yielded per bushel||Pounds of fruit needed for 1 quart|
*Not generally measured or sold in bushels
|*Fruits containing syrup or other liquid expand during freezing. Leave ½- to 1-inch headspace for these fruits.
**Melons do no freeze well. Use while partially frozen.
|Apples||Pare and core apples; cut medium apples into twelfths and large apples into sixteenths. Steam apple slices for five minutes or use anti-darkening agent.||Sugar pack for pies: Mix ½ cup sugar per quart of apples.
Syrup pack for uncooked desserts: Use medium syrup.
|Blackberries or dewberries||Select fully ripe, firm berries. Wash carefully in cold water, discarding soft, underripe or defective fruit.||Sugar pack: ¾ cup sugar per quart of berries.
Dry pack: Pack into containers or freeze first on tray and pack.
Syrup pack: Medium to heavy
|Blueberries or huckleberries||Select full-flavored, ripe berries. Remove leaves, stems and immature or defective berries. Do not wash blueberries to be packed whole; washing results in a tougher-skinned product. Wash before using.||Pack berries into containers, leaving headspace, or freeze first on a tray and then pack.|
|Cherries||Select bright, fully ripened cherries. Wash, stem and pit. Sweet cherries need anti-darkening agent.||Syrup pack: Use medium syrup for sweet cherries, heavy syrup for sour cherries.
Sugar pack: ¾ cup sugar per quart sour cherries.
|Cranberries||Choose firm, deep-red berries with glossy skins. Stem and sort. Wash and drain.||Syrup pack: Use heavy syrup.
Dry pack: Pack into containers or freeze first on a tray and then pack.
|Figs||Select fully ripe fruit. Cut off stems, wash and peel if desired. Slice or leave whole. Use anti-darkening agent.||Syrup pack: Use medium syrup. Add ¾ teaspoon (2250 mg) ascorbic acid or ½ cup lemon juice per quart of syrup. Dry pack: Dissolve ¾ teaspoon ascorbic acid in 3 tablespoons cold water and sprinkle over 1 quart figs. May be frozen first on a tray and then packed.|
|Grapes||Use fully ripe, firm, sweet grapes. Sort, stem and wash. Leave seedless grapes whole; cut grapes with seeds in half and remove seeds.||Syrup pack: Use medium syrup.|
|Melons**||Cut in slices, cubes or balls. Need anti-darkening agent.||Syrup pack: Use light syrup.
Dry pack: See directions on page 2.
|Peaches, nectarines||Select well-ripened fruit and handle carefully to avoid bruising. Sort, wash, pit and peel peaches; cut medium peaches into twelfths and large peaches into sixteenths. Need anti-darkening agent.||Sugar pack: Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon (750 mg) ascorbic acid in 3 tablespoons cold water to each quart of prepared fruit. Add 2/3 cup sugar per quart of fruit; mix well. Stir gently until sugar dissolves or let stand 15 minutes.
Syrup pack: Use medium syrup. Add ½ teaspoon (1500 mg) ascorbic acid per quart of syrup.
|Pears||Select full-flavored pears that are crisp and firm, not mealy in texture. Wash, peel, core and cut into sections. Heat pears in boiling syrup for 1 to 2 minutes, depending on size. Drain and cool. Need anti-darkening agent.||Syrup pack: Use medium syrup. Add ¾ teaspoon (2250 mg) ascorbic acid to a quart of cold syrup and use to cover pears in freezer containers.|
|Plums||Select firm, ripe fruit soft enough to yield to slight pressure. Sort, wash, peel, core and cut into sections. Need anti-darkening agent.||Syrup pack: Add ½ teaspoon (1500 mg) ascorbic acid per quart of medium to heavy cold syrup (depending on tartness of plums).|
|Rhubarb||Choose firm, tender, well-colored stalks with good flavor and few fibers. Wash, trim and cut into lengths to fit the package. Heat in boiling water for 1 minute, and cool promptly in cold water to help retain color and flavor.||Syrup pack: Use medium syrup.
Dry pack: See directions on page 2.
|Strawberries||Select fully ripe, firm berries with a deep red color. Discard immature and defective fruit. Wash and remove caps.||Syrup pack: Put whole berries in containers and cover with cold, heavy syrup. Sugar pack: Add ¾ cup sugar per quart of whole, sliced or crushed berries; mix thoroughly. Stir until most of the sugar is dissolved or let stand for 15 minutes.|
|1Light corn syrup or light, mild-flavored honey can replace ½ of the sugar.
2Add to cold syrup, if you are preserving peaches, apples, pears, plums, nectarines or sweet cherries. If you use a commercial mixture, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Note: To make syrup: Dissolve sugar in water. Refrigerate syrup until you use it. You will need approximately 1 to 1½ cup(s) syrup for each quart of fruit.
|Light (30%)||2||4||¾||5||Small, soft fruits|
|Medium (40%)||3||4||¾||5½||Peaches, apples, pears, sour berries|
|Heavy (50%)||4¾||4||¾||6½||Sour fruits|
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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.