If you’re brand new to preserving food, freezing fruits is the place to start. Most people only think of freezing berries, but citrus fruits, melons, and tropical fruits can be frozen as well. Best of all, it’s fast and it’s easy! It’s almost impossible to make a mistake, you need very little in the way of equipment and supplies, plus you get an instant return on your efforts. Here’s how you can freeze your favorite fruits.
Although freezing citrus fruits is a bit more work than putting up other kinds of fruit, it is definitely worth the effort.
If you want to freeze juice and have enough fruit to make it cost effective, consider investing in a juice extractor to make the job easier. Freezing juice in glass canning and freezing jars makes for a more attractive product. Leave ½ inch of headroom, seal, label, date, and freeze.
You’ll want to freeze lemons and limes for their juice. Using a juice extractor or hand juicer, extract the juice from the fruit and pour the juice directly into freezer containers. Leave ½ inch of headroom, seal, label, date, and freeze. No need to worry about these products darkening!
Cantaloupe, honeydew, and casaba freeze well; watermelon is more difficult. You can try using your melon baller on watermelon, but this fruit tends to get mushy. After all, it’s mostly water.
For other melons, you want to use the firm flesh for melon balls, so remove the seeds and any of the soft, flaky parts. Scoop with your melon baller, arrange the balls on cookie sheets in a single layer, and freeze. When the melon balls are frozen, use your spatula to loosen them and then put them into freezer bags. Seal, label, date, and freeze. If you prefer slices or cubes, they’ll do fine as well. Just be sure to cut off all the rind and any dark green coloring close to the rind.
Preparation for avocados involves mashing. Think ahead to guacamole and bases for dips. Peel and smash away. If you’re planning on using the avocados for something sweet, add ⅛ teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to each quart of purée. Otherwise, for guacamole or dips, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for every 2 avocados will keep them from turning dark.
Puncture the eye and pour out the coconut milk. Save. Crack open the shell with a hammer and separate the meat from the shell. You can grate it by hand or use the food processor. Put the coconut in the freezer container, cover with the milk, seal, label, and freeze.
Dates are the fruit of the date palm and are as easy to freeze as cherries. Just wash the fruit, drain and dry them, remove the pits, and pack in a freezer container. Then seal, label, date, and freeze.
Sort, wash, and cut off the stems. You can peel the figs if you prefer them that way. You can slice them or leave them whole. Make a syrup for them by combining 2 ½ cups sugar and 4 cups water in a pan over medium heat. Bring to boiling and boil till clear, then let cool completely. Place the figs in the freezer container. For every quart of figs, mix ¾ teaspoon ascorbic acid into the syrup. Cover the figs with the syrup.
If you prefer the no-sugar method, you can simply use water. Cover the figs with water to which you’ve added ¾ teaspoon ascorbic acid per quart. Seal, label, date, and freeze.
A pineapple is ripe when the top pulls out easily. Pare the pineapple, dig out the eyes, and core it. Then decide how you want to freeze it. Slices? Cubes? Sticks? Pineapple freezes nicely in its own juice, but you can also make a syrup to pack them in, if you want it sweeter. It’s best to go with extra light or light syrup. Make the syrup the same way as you would for the figs (above), but just use less sugar. Pack pineapple into freezer containers, add liquid to cover, leave proper headroom, seal, label, date, and freeze.
Now that you know how to freeze tropical fruits you’ll never have to throw away another melon or orange again! Happy preserving!
From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Preserving Food by Karen K. Brees, Ph.D.