Learn how to freeze fresh fruit and berries to save money, get the freshest fruit possible & enjoy summer’s goodness all year long!
Smoothies. The single greatest food trend of the 21stcentury, in my opinion. During the warm season, we try not to cook often because it heats up the house so much (we don’t have air conditioning) so we rely on smoothies for about one meal a day! But, like most of my food, I want to know exactly where it came from, how it was grown and how far it traveled to jump into my blender.
Why? Because knowing where and how your food was grown is a basic human right in my opinion! And if my smoothie is going to be something healthy and nourishing, then I’m certainly not going to put my trust in Costco’s freezer aisle for that!
Also, buying fruit and berries for daily smoothies is freakin’ expensive!!
So instead of buying pre-chopped and frozen fruit and berries, we spend the summer harvesting the best local no-spray fruit and berries that Southwest Idaho has to offer! Thanks to our home fruit trees, a lot of it is grown about 10 steps from our front door! We also take advantages of sales at local fruit stands and U-Pick days at orchards. We pack the freezer with delicious fruit and berries and we enjoy fruit cobblers, pies and smoothies all year long… at a fraction of the cost!
Yes, it takes a bit longer to chop and freeze your own fruit and berries than it does to buy it pre-chopped and frozen. But I would much rather spend a couple afternoons doing this than fighting the crowds on sample day at Costco (a store I’ve been to a total of twice and swore to never go back)! There are just so many benefits to buying local and chopping and freezing our own fruit!
Benefits of buying local fruit & berries and freezing it yourself:
- Save money: We save so much money on high quality fruit and berries by buying local and freezing it ourselves! When we grow our own and pick it ourselves at local orchards, the fruit and berries are much cheaper! Plus, we are able to bulk buy when prices are at their lowest prices and when produce is at its freshest!
- Supports the local economy and keeps your money local
- Supports the local farmers
- Reduces the miles that our fruit has to travel which is better for the earth and the fruit is much fresher!
- We are able to grow and find fruit that is organic, no-spray or low spray. Remember, certified organic fruit can still be sprayed with approved pesticides and herbicides. When you grow it yourself or buy directly from the farmer, you can ask about how it was grown!
- Picking fruit locally is a fun way to involve the entire family in food prep and help children understand where their food comes from.
Where to find local fresh fruit & berries for the lowest prices:
- Grow it yourself
- Farmer’s markets
- U-Picks at local orchards
- Local markets or fruit stands
- Roadside stands
- Craigslist (People will often give away fruit or offer to let people come pick their trees when they have more fruit than they can use!)
Awesome, right? It’s a win-win-win for you, your wallet, your community and the environment! So, now that you’ve got your fruit, let’s talk about how to preserve it properly.
How to prepare & freeze fresh fruit and berries:
- Process fruit or berries as quickly after being picked as possible. If you aren’t able to process it right away, keep it in the fridge or a cool place to help it last longer.
- Wash with cold water and wipe with a clean rag to thoroughly clean the skin.
- Remove pits (if using stone fruit) and chop into desired size. Smaller pieces will freeze quicker!
- Place the chopped fruit or berries in single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mat.
- Place trays in freezer for 30 mins to a few hours. Time will vary depending on your freezer settings. *It’s very important not to skip this step! If you bag the fruit without flash-freezing it first, the juices will cause the pieces to freeze together, creating a giant fruit-cube.
- Once fruit or berries are frozen completely solid, remove from freezer.
- Break up any pieces that are sticking to each other and move the pieces to storage containers.
The best containers to freeze fresh fruit In:
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- Mason jars:
Yes, you can freeze in mason jars! I’ve done it for many many years and have broken maybe two jars. And those were due to my own stupidity of trying to thaw it too quickly in warm water. Mason jars are affordable and an endlessly reusable zero-waste option as long as you use them correctly. For more info on how to freeze in Mason jars, check out this post!
- Freezer safe containers:
There are many freezer safe containers that you can purchase and they come in varying shapes and sizes. These do require an initial financial investment but are also endlessly reusable! I’ve linked to some wonderful, durable ones below!
- Ziplock bags:
Ziplock bags are a very affordable and easy to use option. They can also be washed and reused. But they do wear out eventually and will end up as more plastic in the landfill, sadly. There is also a chance that chemicals can leach from the plastic into your food which is no bueno. And, in my opinion, fruit stored in freezer bags tends to get freezer burn faster than glass containers. We do occasionally use bags but try to limit our use of them.
- Vacuum Sealed Bags:
If you have a FoodSaver or other vacuum sealer, you can vacuum seal your fruit which helps it last much longer (sometimes years!) and prevents freezer burn. Again, there is an initial investment, but there are endless uses for a vacuum-sealer on the homestead! With this option, remember that once you open the bag, the vacuum seal will be lost and you will either need to reseal it or move it to a different container if you don’t use all the contents.
- Label & Date:
Whichever ever option you chose, be sure to label and date your containers! Frozen fruit can last up to a year or more, depending on how it’s stored!
What’s your favorite summertime fresh fruit or berries? Let us know in the comments!