Wednesday Q&A: Freezing Up
When I'd mentioned my strawberry score, someone on my facebook fan page asked how exactly I went about freezing my fruit, so I thought I'd share.
Now they say that in order to preserve fruit properly in the freezer you must add sugar (maybe it's a sugar syrup, if I remember right) to maintain the cellular integrity of the produce, but I for one have no interest in putting sugar anywhere it's not absolutely needed, plus the intended frozen fruit use in my kitchen is mostly for blending up in smoothies and homemade ice creem, so I say integrity, shmintegrity. What's important to me is that:
1.) All the fruit doesn't stick together in the freezer bags, making it impossible to use unless the whole bag is defrosted at once, and
2.) I know when I froze the stuff, so I don't find myself planning to make cherry cardamom ice creem for dinner guess only to discover my cherries taste like freezer because they're a batch from 2008.
You will need:
* fruit - any amount
* a large colander
* a paring knife (for strawberries, peaches); a pitter* (for cherries)
* a bowl or counter-top compost bucket to receive stems, pits, what-have-you
* one or more baking sheets (that will fit in your freezer)
* parchment paper to fit your baking sheets (really only if your baking sheets have a perma-grime)
* freezer bags
* a permanent marker
I'm presuming your fruit is local, and hopefully it's also low-spray or even organic (I talk about this in both Get It Ripe and Ripe from around Here if you want more info). Nonetheless, give it a good rinse, using your hands to gently toss them around in the colander. Once you turn off the water, transfer the fruit to a tea towel-lined bowl, or leave them in the colander with a plate underneath it so you don't get run-off from your work area onto the floor.
Prep the fruit as needed, and place each berry, cherry or slice of peach individually on your baking sheets.
Slide tray(s) into the freezer and allow fruit to firm up for at least an hour, if not overnight. Then, pop 'em off the tray, load them them into pre-labeled freezer bags (if you try writing on the bags when they're loaded and cold, it'll be more of a hassle and the pen might refuse to work), and return them to their cold spot.
Get excited about enjoying a little bit of summer once the weather's cooled down like crazy.
In the past week I've bagged up no-spray blueberries from the Guleph Farmers' Market, and low-spray cherries*, too. I know there'll be a point when my housemates have to break it to me that I'm taking over the lion's share of the freezer, but for now I'm having fun preserving the bounty.
* Let me tell you, a well-made cherry and olive pitter is not a kitchen tool to scoff at. It may very well save you loads of time (compared to the option of toughing it out with a paring knife and a cutting board) once you get the swing of it. Here's an example of a couple that seem to meet my standards:
This is the one I have.
This one is made by OXO.