Freezing Fruit [fact sheet]

berries

Freezing Fruit 

Fruit can be safely frozen using different methods based upon the desired use of the final product. Although the use of sugar or syrup is not necessary to achieve a safe product, most fruit used for eating will have a better texture if frozen using a sugar or syrup pack. Fruit that are used for baking are best frozen using a sugar or dry-pack. Download the fact sheet.

Containers for Freezing  Using proper packaging material for freezing food is important to help protect flavor, color, moisture content, and nutritive value of the food while in the freezer.  

In general, rigid containers, such as glass and plastic, are suitable for all packs, especially for liquid packs. Regular glass breaks easily at freezer temperatures. If using glass jars, choose wide mouth jars that are made for freezing and canning. Plastic freezer-grade bags are good for dry pack with little to no liquid. If using plastic bags, press them to remove as much air as possible before closing. 

General characteristics of packaging materials should be:

  • Moisture vapor resistant 
  • Durable and leak proof 
  • Made of freezer grade material 
  • Resistant to oil, grease or water 
  • Protect foods from absorption of off flavor or odors 
  • Easy to seal - use freezer tape if needed to reinforce the seal 
  • Easy to label and date 
  • Containers that hold less than a one-half gallon 

strawberries

Did You Know? 

Head space allows for the expansion of fruit during the freezing process.

Apples 

Select crisp apples. Wash, peel and core. Slice medium apples into twelfths and large into sixteenths.

Preparation - Select a pack method 

Syrup Pack - Use 40% cold syrup. To prevent browning, add 1/2 tsp. (1500 mg) ascorbic acid to each quart of syrup. Start with 1/2 cup cold syrup in a pint container, add fruit, press fruit down and add syrup to cover. Crumple a small piece of water-resistant paper on top to hold fruit down. 

Sugar Pack - To prevent darkening, dissolve 1/2 tsp. (1500 mg) ascorbic acid in 3 Tbsp. water. Sprinkle over fruit. You can also steam apple slices for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Cool and drain. Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 quart fruit.

Dry Pack - Follow directions for sugar pack, omitting the sugar. Treated apple slices can also be frozen on a tray then packed.

Package, leaving head space, seal, label, date, and freeze. 

 

Blackberries 

Wash gently in cold water; discarding soft, underripe or defective fruit. 

Preparation - Select a pack method 

Syrup Pack - Pack whole berries in a container and cover with a cold 40 - 50% syrup.

Sugar Pack - Mix 3/4 cup sugar with 1 quart berries.

Dry Pack - Pack into containers. Berries can also be frozen on a tray then packed.

Package, leaving head space2, seal, label, date and freeze. 

blackberries

Blueberries or Huckleberries 

Select full-flavored, ripe berries. Remove leaves, stems and immature or defective berries. Do not wash. Washing results in a tougher skinned product.

Preparation - Select a pack method 

Dry Pack - Pack into containers, leaving head space. Berries can also be frozen on a tray, then packed. Seal, label, date and freeze. Wash before using.  

 

Cranberries 

Choose firm, deep-red cranberries with glossy skins. Stem and sort. Wash and drain.

Preparation - Select a pack method 

Syrup Pack - For syrup pack, cover with cold 50% syrup, leaving head space. Seal, label, date and freeze. 

Dry Pack - Pack into containers, leaving head space2. Cranberries can also be frozen on a tray.  

 

Peaches or Nectarines 

Sort, wash and peel. Be careful not to bruise the fruit.

Preparation - Select a pack method 

Syrup Pack - Use 40% syrup. To prevent darkening, add 1/2 tsp (1500 mg) ascorbic acid/quart syrup. Start with 1/2 cup cold syrup to a pint container, add fruit, press fruit down, add syrup to cover. Crumple a small piece of water-resistant paper on top to hold fruit down.  

Sugar Pack - To each quart of prepared fruit (1 1/3 pounds) add 2/3 cup sugar and mix until dissolved or let stand 15 minutes. To stop darkening, add 1/4 tsp. (750 mg) ascorbic acid dissolved in 3 Tbsp. cold water to each quart fruit. 

Package, leaving head space, seal, label, date and freeze.

 

Did You Know?

Dry-packed frozen berries can be used to make jam. Measure the amount of fruit needed prior to thawing. Thaw under refrigeration, crush, measure and make the jam according to directions. 

 

Pears 

Choose pears that are crisp and firm. Wash, peel and core. Slice medium pears into twelfths and large into sixteenths. 

Preparation - Select a pack method 

Syrup Pack - Heat pears in boiling 40% syrup for 1-2 minutes. Drain and cool. Pack pears and cover with cold 40% syrup. To stop darkening, add 3/4 tsp. (2250 mg) ascorbic acid to a quart of cold syrup. (Crumple a small piece of water-resistant paper to hold fruit down.)

Pack into container leaving head space. Seal, label, date, and freeze.

pears

Raspberries 

Sort berries using ripe, firm and well-colored berries. Wash gently with cool water and drain.  

Preparation - Select a pack method 

Syrup Pack - Pack berries into containers and cover with cold 40% syrup. 

Sugar Pack - Mix 1 quart berries gently with 3/4 cup sugar.

Dry Pack - Pack berries into containers. Raspberries can also be frozen on a tray and then packed.

Package, leaving head space, seal, label, date, and freeze. 

 

Rhubarb 

Wash, trim, cut into lengths to fit package. To retain color and flavor, heat rhubarb in boiling water for 1 minute, cool quickly in cold water. 

Preparation - Select a pack method 

Syrup Pack - Pack raw or pretreated rhubarb into containers, cover with cold 40% syrup. 

Dry Pack - Pack raw or pretreated rhubarb into containers without sugar. 

Pack leaving head space, seal, label, date and freeze. 

 

Strawberries 

Select fully ripe, firm berries. Wash and sort. Hull, leave whole or slice. 

Preparation - Select a pack method 

Syrup Pack - Place whole berries in container and cover with cold 50% syrup, leaving head space. Seal, label, date and freeze.

Sugar Pack - Add 3/4 cup sugar to 1 quart whole strawberries and mix. Let stand 15 minutes. 

Package, leaving head space. Seal, label, date and freeze. 

strawberry-jam

- Syrup Concentrations for Freezing Fruits 

Use the percentage of syrup indicated for each individual fruit.  

Type of Syrup | Sugar | Water 

10% (very light) 1/2 cup  | 4 cups 

20% (light) 1 cup | 4 cups 

30% (medium) 1 3/4 cups | 4 cups 

40% (heavy) 2 3/4 cups | 4 cups 

50% (very heavy) | 4 cups | 4 cups

Directions: Dissolve sugar in lukewarm water according to the chart; mix until dissolved. Chill syrup before using. 

To Prevent Darkening 

Light-colored fruits are kept from darkening during handling by the addition of ascorbic acid. Use either powdered ascorbic acid (available where food preservation supplies are sold) or crushed vitamin C tablets. Finely crush vitamin C tablets before use. Fillers in the tablets may make the syrup cloudy but it is not harmful.

Follow the directions below when adding ascorbic acid in various types of packs.  

In syrup or liquid packs - Add powdered or crushed ascorbic acid to cold syrup shortly before using. Stir it in gently so you do not stir in air. Keep syrup refrigerated until use. 

In sugar or dry packs - Dissolve the ascorbic acid in two to three tablespoons of cold water and sprinkle the mixture over fruit just before adding sugar. 

Head Space for Packing Frozen Fruit 

Head space allows for expansion of fruit during the freezing process.

 

Liquid pack (fruit packed in sugar, syrup or water; crushed or puree; juice)

Container with Wide Top Opening 

Pint - 1/2 inch 

Quart - 1 inch

Container with Narrow Top Opening 

Pint - 3/4 inch (1 1/2 inches for juice) 

Quart - 1 1/2 inches

 

Dry pack (fruit packed without added sugar or liquid)

Container with Wide Top Opening 

Pint - 1/2 inch 

Quart - 1/2 inch 

 

Container with Narrow Top Opening 

Pint - 1/2 inch 

Quart - 1/2 inch 

 

Created: May 2006 

Updated: April 2019   About the Authors:   Adapted from: A. Andress, J. Harrison, So Easy to Preserve, Sixth Edition. Cooperative Extension. The university of Georgia, Bulletin 989, 2014. For more information on food preservation go to National Center for Home Food Preservation website - http://www.uga.edu/nchfp.

Updated by Ann Hamilton, Extension Food Safety Field Specialist, UNH Cooperative Extension.

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