Freezing fruits and vegetables made easy


By Ariel Eddings and Robin Young  | PREVIEW Columnists

To preserve fruits and vegetables with maximum nutritional value year-round, try freezing them. It’s easy. 

And if you’re anything like me, you love all the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available during the summer. You might have your own home garden or purchase your produce from a local farmers market like I do. Wherever you get your produce, it’s always unfortunate when the weather changes and they are no longer available. 

However, a great way to have high-quality fruits and vegetables with maximum nutritional value is by freezing them.

Freezing fruits

Freezing fresh fruits is an easy way to have ready-to-use fruits all year. This is the least time-consuming way to preserve fruits.

Tips for freezing fruits:

• Prepare fruits so they are ready to eat (peel, slice and pit fruit when needed).

• Freeze cherries and berries quickly after harvest.

• Fruits like apples, pears, apricots or peaches need to be fully ripened before freezing. Add ascorbic acid to preserve the color, flavor and nutrients of the fruit. Ascorbic acid can be purchased from stores where canning supplies are sold.

• Choose the correct method for packing. Fruits can be frozen dry, in syrup or with sugar. Freeze berries and cherries on a baking sheet first, then packaged in a freezer bag so they don’t clump together.

• Label packages with the name of the product and freezing date.

Freezing vegetables 

Unlike fruits, most vegetables must be blanched prior to freezing them. Blanching means to expose the vegetables to boiling water or steam for a short period of time. This process stops enzymes that can cause discoloration, flavor loss and changes in texture. For the best results, blanch in small batches, then place vegetables in ice water to prevent them from cooking.

Tips for freezing vegetables:

• Harvest when it is cool.

• Rinse thoroughly in cold water.

• Blanch vegetables to deactivate enzymes (except tomatoes, peppers and onions).

• Store in the correct container like a meal-sized freezer bag or container.

• Make sure to pack tightly and cut down on the amount of air in the package.

• Label packages with the name of the product and freezing date.

Using frozen fruits
and vegetables

Now that our freezer is stocked full of delicious frozen fruits and vegetables, it is time to find ways to use them in our cooking and baking.

• Use frozen fruits within eight  to 12 months. Use them in desserts like cobblers, crisps and pies, quick breads, oatmeal, salads and smoothies. Some recipes will require a thickener to balance the extra juice from the frozen fruit. If you are making a recipe with a short baking or cooking time, thaw frozen fruit first.

• Use vegetables within eight to 12 months. Use them in stir-fries, casseroles, side dishes and soups.

Freezing fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest ways to preserve produce while maintaining the nutrients. Keep the fresh flavors of summer.

Seed Saving class

The Seed Saving class set for Sept. 23 has been postponed.

See the Extension Facebook page for additional information or call (970) 264-5931.

CPR and first aid classes

CPR and first aid certification classes are offered every other month by the CSU Extension office, generally on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. The cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. Call the Extension office at (970) 264-5931 to register.