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How to Freeze Fruit and Vegetables

Article by: Allrecipes  |  Picture by: ReadersDigest
How to Freeze Fruit and Vegetables
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When you come across great specials on fruit and vegetables, buy them up, freeze them and then enjoy them throughout the year.

When frozen, the water in fruit and veggies expands, causing ice crystals to puncture and break cell walls. As a result, some fruit and veggies tend to get mushy when thawed. To reduce the amount of cellular damage, freeze fruit and veggies as quickly as possible: colder temperatures produce smaller ice crystals, which do less damage to cell walls. The "mushy factor" is also why we recommend eating frozen fruit before they have completely thawed.
Freezing Fruit
Wash fruit and sort for damaged fruit before freezing.

A general method for freezing fruit and this works well for delicate berries like strawberries or raspberries: Arrange the fruit in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag or container. You can also prepare delicate berries with sugar or sugar syrup.

For fruit that tends to brown, like apples, peaches, nectarines and apricots, treat with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Look for the powdered form in health food shops, chemists and some supermarkets (with the vitamins). To make an ascorbic acid wash: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid powder (or finely crushed vitamin C tablets) in 3 tablespoons water. Sprinkle this mixture over the cut fruit. An acceptable substitute is: Slice the fruit and dip the slices in an acidulated water bath -- about a litre of water plus a tablespoon of lemon juice -- before drying and freezing.
Freezing Vegetables
The best vegetables for freezing are low-acid veggies - like green vegetables – but not veggies with high water content like lettuce, celery or cucumber.

When freezing vegetables, first blanch them briefly in boiling water. Then quickly submerge the veggies in ice water to prevent them from cooking. Dry thoroughly on paper towel-lined trays or racks. Blanching prevents enzymes from damaging colour, flavour, and nutrients and is a more effective way of washing them before freezing. Pack vegetables snugly to avoid air contact.
Packing for the freezer
The key to packing fruit and veggies for freezing is to keep moisture inside the package and air outside. Contact with air can cause changes in flavour and colour. Pack fruit and vegetables in air-tight containers or moisture-proof, heavy-duty freezer bags, and force or suck out as much air as possible. Wrap freezer bags in heavy-duty foil and seal with freezer tape. Generally, plastic sandwich bags are not heavy-duty enough. A few hours before adding food to the freezer, set the freezer to its coldest setting. And don't overload your freezer.
Thawing
Most vegetables can go directly from freezer to boiling water, though corn does best when allowed to thaw a bit first. Fruit is best when allowed to thaw at room temperature. Delicate berries can turn mushy when thawed completely, so consider using them before they're totally thawed, like in smoothies or as a topping for ice cream or yoghurt.
Finally...fruit and veggies freeze best at minus-17 degrees C or colder. Store frozen fruit for about a year; vegetables, about 18 months. (Storing longer may be fine but the quality may decline.)
More Tips on Freezing Food
Check out techniques for freezing other food in this Tips for Freezing food article.
Article provided by:
Allrecipes

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