NC State Extension Publications

What Fruits Freeze Best?

Skip to What Fruits Freeze Best?

Most fruits freeze satisfactorily in some form. They usually retain their flavor after freezing, but the texture may be somewhat softer than it is for fresh fruit.

As with any frozen product, quality is determined by freshness of the original product, type of pack and any special treatment given prior to freezing. Most fruits are fully prepared and sweetened for serving or cooking before they are packaged for freezing.

Before Packing

Skip to Before Packing

All fruits need to be washed in cold water. Wash a small quantity at a time to prevent bruising. You may find a perforated or wire basket useful. Lift washed fruits out of the water and drain thoroughly. Don’t let fruit stand in water; it may become water-soaked or lose food value and flavor.

In general, fruit is prepared for freezing in about the same way it is prepared for serving. Large fruits usually do better if cut in pieces or crushed before freezing. Most fruits can be frozen successfully in several forms; even good parts of less perfect fruits can be crushed or pureed before packing.

It is best to prepare enough fruit for only a few containers at one time, especially if a fruit happens to turn dark rapidly. Two or three quarts at a time is a good quantity.

Some instructions call for fruit to be crushed. For soft fruits, use a wire potato masher, pastry fork, slotted spoon or food processor. If fruits are firm, they may be crushed more easily with a food chopper, or food processor. For making purees, a food processor or food mill is best.

Use equipment made of aluminum, earthenware, enamelware, glass, plastic or stainless steel. Never use galvanized ware in direct contact with fruit or fruit juices. The acid in the fruit can dissolve the zinc, which can be harmful in large quantities.

Metallic off-flavors may result from using iron utensils, chipped enamelware, or tinware that is not well tinned.

Ways to Pack

Skip to Ways to Pack

Most fruits have better texture and flavor if they are packed in sugar or syrup. Others may be packed without sweetening.

Fruits that are whole or in pieces may be packed one of three ways: syrup pack, sugar pack, and unsweetened. Directions are also given for packing crushed fruits, purees and fruit juices. The intended use will determine the type and size of pack you select.

Sugar Pack – General Instructions

Skip to Sugar Pack – General Instructions

Cut fruit into bowl or shallow pan. Sprinkle with sugar to taste. Mix gently until juice is drawn out and sugar is dissolved.

Put fruit and juice into containers. Place crumpled wax paper or plastic wrap on top to hold fruit down in its juice. Seal containers.

Unsweetened Pack – General Instructions

Skip to Unsweetened Pack – General Instructions

Pack prepared fruit into containers, with added liquid or sweetening or cover with water containing ascorbic acid, or cover with artificially sweetened syrup as follows:

You may use a non-caloric sweetener to freeze all fruits except peaches and strawberries. These last two freeze best with an artificial syrup.

When using a non-caloric sweetener, add the sweetener to water or fruit juice, following the recommendations on the package label. Mix non-caloric sweetener and fruit well. Pack fruit into container. Seal and freeze.

A non-caloric syrup can be made for peaches and strawberries. To make the syrup, add two level teaspoons of powdered pectin to one quart cool water. Warm the mixture to the simmering point, stirring constantly. Then cool.

Following package directions, add ascorbic acid or an ascorbic acid mixture to the quart of artificial syrup. At this point, you may sweeten the syrup with a non-caloric sweetener or you may leave it plain.

Slice peaches or strawberries into the container, and cover immediately with the no-calorie syrup. Leave one half-inch of head space. Place crumpled wax paper or plastic wrap on top to hold fruit down in syrup. Seal cartons and freeze.

Syrup Pack – General Instructions

Skip to Syrup Pack – General Instructions

Select the type syrup according to the sweetness of the fresh product. It takes 12 to 23 cup of syrup for each pint package of fruit.

Dissolve sugar in water or liquid and cool. It’s a good idea to make the syrup the day before and refrigerate.

When packing fruit into containers be sure syrup covers the fruit so that top pieces will retain best quality. To keep fruit under syrup, place a small piece of crumpled wax paper or plastic wrap on top and press fruit down under syrup before sealing the container.


Syrups for freezing.
Type of Syrup Sugar to One Quart Liquid Yield
Light 2 cups 5 cups
Medium 3 cups* 512 cups
Heavy 434 cups 612 cups
* Medium with corn syrup: use 112 cups sugar and 2 cups corn syrup to 3 cups liquid. Medium with honey: use 1 cup sugar and 1 cup honey to 4 cups liquid.

To Keep Fruit From Darkening

Skip to To Keep Fruit From Darkening

Some fruits such as apricots, peaches, pears, apples, light cherries and light figs need treatment in addition to sugar to prevent darkening.

  • Use an anti-browning agent available in the grocery store following package instructions, or
  • Dissolve one teaspoon ascorbic acid and one tablespoon of citric acid in one gallon cold water. As soon as fruit is peeled, drop into this solution until it is packed for freezing, or
  • In Sugar pack. Dissolve 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid (this equals 3,000 milligrams if tablets are used) in 12 cup water. Add 1 tablespoon of this solution to each pint of fruit. Mix well.
  • In Unsweetened pack. Sprinkle dissolved ascorbic acid over fruit and gently mix. Use same proportion as for a sugar pack.
  • In Syrup pack. Dissolve 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid in 2 tablespoons water and add to 1 quart of chilled syrup, or
  • Steaming fruit just until hot before packing will control darkening. This method works best for fruit that will be cooked before use.

Apples, Slices

Skip to Apples, Slices

Select full-flavored apples that are crisp and firm, not mealy in texture. Wash, pare, core and slice.

Syrup pack. Prepare syrup. Add 12 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid to each quart of syrup. Slice apples directly into cold syrup in container, starting with 12 cup syrup to a pint container. Press fruit down in containers and add enough syrup to cover. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Baking or pie slices. Drop slices or halves in boiling water for 2 minutes. Cool quickly in ice water. Pack apples into containers. Apples may be sprinkled with sugar if desired. Seal and freeze.

Applesauce

Skip to Applesauce

Select full-flavored apples. Wash apples, pare if desired, core, and slice. To each quart of apple slices add 13 cup water; cook until tender. Cool and strain if necessary. Sweeten to taste with 14 to 13 cup sugar for each quart of sauce, if desired.

Pack into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Apricots, Halves or Slices

Skip to Apricots, Halves or Slices

Select firm, ripe, uniformly yellow apricots. Sort, wash, halve, and pit. Peel and slice if desired.

If apricots are not peeled, heat them in boiling water 12 minute to keep skins from toughening during freezing. Then cool in cold water and drain.

Syrup pack. Prepare syrup and cool. For a better quality frozen product add 34 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid to each quart of syrup. Pack apricots directly into containers. Cover with syrup, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Sugar pack. Dissolve 14 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid in 14 cup cold water and sprinkle over 1 quart of fruit. Mix sugar (14 - 13 cup per quart) with fruit and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pack apricots into containers and press down until fruit is covered with juice, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Blackberries, Boysenberries, Dewberries, Loganberries, Youngberries

Skip to Blackberries, Boysenberries, Dewberries, Loganberries, Youngberries

Whole. Select firm, plump, fully ripe berries with glossy skins. Green berries may cause off-flavor. Sort and remove any leaves and stems. Wash and drain.

  • Sugar pack. To 1 quart berries, add sugar to taste. Turn berries over and over until most of the sugar is dissolved. Fill containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.
  • Syrup pack. Pack berries into containers and cover with cold syrup. Select type of syrup depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.
  • Unsweetened pack. Pack berries into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Crushed or pureed. Prepare for packing in the same way as for whole berries. Then crush or press through a sieve for puree. Add sugar to taste. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Pack into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Blueberries, Elderberries, Huckleberries

Skip to Blueberries, Elderberries, Huckleberries

Whole. Select full-flavored ripe berries all about the same size, preferably with tender skins. Sort, wash, and drain. If desired, steam for 1 minute and cool immediately. Preheating in steam tenderizes skin and makes a better flavored product.

  • Syrup pack. Pack berries into containers and cover with cold syrup. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.
  • Unsweetened pack. Pack berries into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Cherries, Sour

Skip to Cherries, Sour

Whole. Select bright-red, tree-ripened cherries. Stem, sort and wash thoroughly. Drain and pit.

  • Syrup pack. Pack cherries into containers and cover with cold syrup. Select type of syrup depending on tartness of cherries. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.
  • Sugar pack. Add sugar to taste and mix until sugar is dissolved. Pack into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Crushed. Prepare for packing as for whole sour cherries. Crush coarsely. Sweeten as desired. Mix thoroughly until sugar is dissolved. Pack into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Pureed. Select and prepare for packing same as for whole cherries. Then crush cherries, heat to boiling point, cool, and press through a sieve or use a food processor. To 1 quart fruit puree add 12 - 34 cup sugar. Pack puree into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Juice. Select and prepare as for whole sour cherries. Then crush cherries, heat slightly to start flow of juice, and strain juice through a jelly bag. Cool, let stand overnight, and pour off clear juice for freezing. Or juice may be packed as soon as it cools; then strained when it is thawed for serving. Sweeten to taste or pack without added sugar. Pour into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Cherries, Sweet

Skip to Cherries, Sweet

Whole. Sweet cherries should be prepared quickly to avoid color and flavor changes. Red varieties are best for freezing. Select well-colored, tree-ripened fruit with a sweet flavor. Sort, stem, wash and drain. Remove pits if desired; they tend to give an almond-like flavor to the fruit. Pack cherries into containers. Cover with cold syrup made with 12 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid per quart of liquid. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Crushed. Prepare cherries as for freezing whole. Remove pits and crush cherries coarsely. To each quart of crushed fruit, add sugar to taste and 14 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid. Mix well. Pack into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Juice. Frozen sweet cherry juice may lack flavor and tartness. For a tastier product, add some sour cherry juice—either before freezing or after thawing. Select well-colored, tree-ripened fruit. Sort, stem, wash, and drain. Remove pits and crush. For red cherries, heat slightly (to 165°F) to start flow of juice. Do not boil. Extract juice in a jelly bag.

For white cherries, extract juice without heating. Then warm juice (to 165°F) in a double boiler or over low heat.

For either red or white cherry juice, cool the juice, let stand overnight, and pour off clear juice for freezing. Or juice may be packed as soon as it cools; then strained when it is thawed for serving. Sweeten to taste or pack without adding sugar. Pour into container, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Coconut, Fresh

Skip to Coconut, Fresh

Shred coconut meat or put it through a food chopper or processor. Pack into containers and cover with the coconut milk if desired. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Cranberries

Skip to Cranberries

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

  • Unsweetened pack. Pack into containers without sugar. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.
  • Syrup pack. Pack into containers. Cover with cold heavy syrup. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Pureed. Prepare cranberries as for freezing whole. Add 2 cups water to each quart of berries. Cook until skins have popped. Press through a sieve. Add sugar to taste, about 2 cups for each quart of puree. Pack into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Whole or sliced. Select tree-ripened soft-ripe fruit. Make sure figs have not become sour in the center. Sort, wash and cut off stems. Peel if desired. Slice or leave whole.

  • Syrup pack. Use a light syrup. For a better product add 34 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid or 12 cup lemon juice to each quart of syrup. Pack figs into containers and cover with cold syrup, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.
  • Unsweetened pack. Pack into containers, leaving head space. Cover with water or not as desired. If water is used, crystalline ascorbic acid may be added to retard darkening of light-colored figs — 34 teaspoon to each quart of water. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Crushed. Prepare figs as directed for freezing whole or sliced. Crush them coarsely. Add sugar to taste and 14 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid per quart crushed fruit. Pack figs into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Fruit Cocktail

Skip to Fruit Cocktail

Use any combination of fruits desired—sliced or cubed peaches or apricots, melon balls, orange or grapefruit sections, whole seedless grapes, bing cherries, or pineapple wedges.

Pack into containers, cover with cold light or medium syrup, depending on fruits used. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Grapefruit, Oranges

Skip to Grapefruit, Oranges

Sections or slices. Select firm tree-ripened fruit heavy for its size and free from spots. Wash and peel. Divide fruit into sections, removing all membranes and seeds. Slice oranges if desired. For grapefruit with many seeds, cut fruit in half, remove seeds, cut or scoop out sections. Pack fruit into containers. Cover with cold syrup made with sugar if desired and excess fruit juice and water if needed. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Juice. Select fruit as directed for sections. Squeeze juice from fruit, using squeezer that does not press oil from rind. Sweeten or pack without sugar. Pour juice into containers immediately. Seal and freeze.

Whole or halves. Select firm ripe grapes with tender skins and full color and flavor. Wash and stem. Leave seedless grapes whole; cut table grapes with seeds in half and remove seeds.

  • Unsweetened pack. Pack into containers without sweetening. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.
  • Syrup pack. Pack into containers and cover with cold syrup. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Juice. For beverages, select as for whole grapes. For jelly making, select as recommended in specific jelly recipe. Wash, stem, and crush grapes. Strain them through a jelly bag. Let juice stand overnight in refrigerator or other cool place while sediment sinks to bottom. Pour off clear juice for freezing. Pour juice into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze. If tartrate crystals form in frozen juice, they may be removed by straining the juice after it thaws.

Melons: Cantaloupe, Crenshaw, Honeydew, Persian, Watermelon

Skip to Melons: Cantaloupe, Crenshaw, Honeydew, Persian, Watermelon

Slices, cubes or balls. Select firm-fleshed, well-colored, ripe melons. Cut in half, remove seeds, and peel. Cut melons into slices, cubes, or balls. Pack into containers and cover with cold light syrup. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Peaches

Skip to Peaches

Halves and slices. Select firm, ripe peaches with no green color in the skins. Sort, wash, pit and peel. For a better product, peel peaches without a boiling-water dip. Slice if desired.

  • Syrup pack. Use light or medium syrup. For a better quality product, add 12 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid for each quart of syrup. Put peaches directly into cold syrup in container. Press fruit down and add syrup to cover, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

  • Sugar pack. Add sugar to taste and mix well. To retard darkening, sprinkle ascorbic acid dissolved in water over the peaches before adding sugar. Use 14 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid in 14 cup cold water to each quart of fruit. Pack into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

  • Water pack. Pack peaches into containers and cover with cold water containing 1 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid to each quart of water. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Crushed or pureed. To loosen skins, dip peaches in boiling water 12 to 1 minute. The riper the fruit the less scalding needed. Cool in cold water, remove skins, and pit. Crush peaches coarsely. Or, for puree, press through a sieve, or use a blender or food processor or heat pitted peaches 4 minutes in just enough water to prevent scorching and then press through a sieve or use blender or food processor. Sweeten if desired. For better quality, add 18 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid to each quart of fruit. Pack into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Pears, Halves or Quarters

Skip to Pears, Halves or Quarters

Select pears that are well ripened and firm but not hard. Wash fruit in cold water. Pare, cut in halves or quarters, and remove cores. Heat pears in boiling light or medium syrup for 1 to 2 minutes, depending on size of pieces. Drain and cool. Pack pears into containers and cover with cold syrup made with 34 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid to quart of cold syrup. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Persimmons, Pureed

Skip to Persimmons, Pureed

Select orange-colored, soft-ripe persimmons. Sort, wash, peel, and cut into sections. Press the fruit through a sieve or use a food processor. To each quart of persimmon puree add 18 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid or 112 teaspoons crystalline citric acid to help prevent darkening and flavor loss. Persimmon puree made from native varieties needs no sugar. Puree made from cultivated varieties may be packed with or without sugar. Pack puree into containers. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Pineapple

Skip to Pineapple

Select firm, ripe pineapple with full flavor and aroma. Pare and remove core and eyes. Slice, dice, crush, or cut the pineapple into wedges or sticks.

Unsweetened pack. Pack fruit tightly into container without sugar. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Syrup pack. Pack fruit tightly into containers. Cover with light syrup made with pineapple juice, if available, or with water. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Plums and Prunes

Skip to Plums and Prunes

Whole, halves, or quarters. Choose firm tree-ripened fruit of deep color. Sort and wash. Leave whole or cut in halves or quarters.

  • Unsweetened pack. Pack whole fruit into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze. To serve uncooked, dip frozen fruit in cold water for 5 to 10 seconds, remove skins, and cover with medium syrup to thaw.
  • Syrup pack. Pack cut fruit into containers. Cover fruit with cold syrup made with 12 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid to a quart of syrup. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Juice. For juice to be served in beverages, select fully ripe fruit. For juice to be used for jelly making, select as recommended in specific jelly recipe. Wash plums, then simmer until soft in enough water to barely cover. Strain through a jelly bag. Cool. Sweeten to taste. Pour into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Raspberries

Skip to Raspberries

Whole. Select fully ripe, juicy berries. Sort, wash carefully in cold water, and drain thoroughly.

  • Sugar pack. Add sugar to taste and mix carefully to avoid crushing. Put into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.
  • Syrup pack. Put berries into containers and cover with cold light or medium syrup, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.
  • Unsweetened pack. Put berries into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Juice. Follow directions for cherry juice.

Rhubarb

Skip to Rhubarb

Stalks or pieces. Choose firm, tender, well-colored stalks with good flavor and few fibers. Wash, trim, and cut into 1- or 2- inch pieces or in lengths to fit the package. Heating rhubarb in boiling water for 1 minute and cooling promptly in cold water helps retain color and flavor.

  • Unsweetened pack. Pack either raw or preheated rhubarb tightly into containers without sugar. Leave head space Seal and freeze.
  • Syrup pack. Pack either raw or preheated rhubarb tightly into containers, cover with cold medium syrup. Leave head space. Seal and freeze.

Pureed. Prepare rhubarb as for rhubarb stalks or pieces. Add 1 cup water to 112 quarts rhubarb and boil 2 minutes. Cool and press through a sieve or use a food processor. Sweeten if desired. Pack into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Strawberries

Skip to Strawberries

Whole. Choose firm, ripe, red berries preferably with a slightly tart flavor. Large berries are better sliced or crushed. Sort berries, wash them in cold water, drain well, and remove hulls.

  • Syrup pack. Put berries into containers and cover with cold medium syrup, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.
  • Sugar pack. Add sugar to taste and mix thoroughly. Put into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.
  • Unsweetened pack. Pack into containers, leaving head space. For better color, cover with water containing 1 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid to each quart of water. Seal and freeze.

Sliced or crushed. Prepare for packing as for whole strawberries, then slice, or crush partially or completely. Add sugar to taste and mix thoroughly. Pack into containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Publication date: Aug. 1, 1995
FCS-246

North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.