When the garden or grove produces a bounty too plentiful to use before spoiling, freezing fruit preserves the harvest for use in recipes or straight to the table later in the season. Even though freezing fruit dramatically slows the growth of microorganisms that cause spoilage and food poisoning, it won't preserve fruit forever. Knowing how long to keep frozen fruit safely ensures best use of the fruit when it's thawed.
Citrus fruits need little preparation for freezing. Because their natural acidity aids their preservation, extra acid and preservatives won't help them last longer. Before freezing, remove seeds and section oranges, grapefruits, lemons and other citrus fruits. To those sections, add juice or a syrup made from approximately 3 cups of sugar for each 4 cups of water cooked together in a saucepan. Seal the mixture in a waterproof bag or food storage container. Keep frozen citrus fruits at zero degrees Fahrenheit up to 6 months.
Freeze small fruits such as berries and cherries after washing them and placing them individually on cookie sheets. Place the cookie sheets in the freezer and form a hard freeze on each piece of fruit. After freezing, place the fruit in a freezer-safe bag and store at zero F for up to 12 months.
Apples and Pears
Apples and pears brown easily at room temperature when cut. When freezing cut apples or pears, use ascorbic acid, lemon juice or sugar syrup to preserve the fruit's color before freezing. Ascorbic acid, available in health food stores, preserves the color of the sliced fruit. Sprinkling lemon juice also works, to a lesser degree. Packing sliced apples and pears in a syrup made from 1 part sugar to 2 parts water also preserves the color when freezing. Store frozen apples and pears up to 12 months.
Choose melons that are firm but still feel firm to the touch. After cutting the fruit away from the rind and removing the seeds, pack the cut fruit in a syrup made from sugar and water or unsweetened by itself in water. Add cut melon to a freezer-safe bag or container and leave an inch or so of space for expansion before freezing. Use frozen melon before 12 months of storage.
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