Freezing

    Freezing

    Freezing is a simple, quick way to preserve foods. Fruits and vegetables freeze well and retain their distinct fruit flavor. Texture is usually softened somewhat by freezing, but serving partially frozen fruit or vegetables with ice crystals will compensate for texture changes. Lighter colored fruits and vegetables may require special treatment to retain color, texture and flavor.

    There are several ways to pack fruits for freezing: syrup pack, sugar pack, dry pack, or unsweetened pack. Syrup pack is preferred for apples to be used for uncooked desserts or fruit cocktail. Sugar or dry pack is good for pies. Individual quick frozen is a good method when small portions are used periodically.

    Syrup Pack

    Chill syrup before using. Then, use just enough cold syrup to cover the prepared fruit after it has been placed in the container (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of syrup per pint). The proportions for small batches shown in the previous table will provide an adequate amount. Hint: To keep the fruit submerged in the syrup, add a small piece of crumpled parchment paper or other water resistant wrapping material on top, and press fruit down into the syrup before sealing the container.

    Sugar Pack

    Sprinkle sugar over the fruit and mix gently until the juice is drawn out and the sugar dissolved. Dry Pack Simply pack the cleaned fruit into a container, seal, and freeze.

    Individual Quick Frozen

    Spread apple slices on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with ascorbic acid mixture. Place in freezer. When frozen, transfer to a plastic bag. Press out as much air as possible and return to freezer.

    General Procedure

    Wash, peel, core and slice into anti-darkening solution (3 Tablespoons lemon juice per quart of water). Syrup pack in 40% syrup, adding ½ teaspoon ascorbic acid per quart syrup. Or, sugar pack by sprinkling ¼ teaspoon ascorbic acid dissolved in ¼ cup cold water per quart of fruit with ½ cup sugar per quart of apple slices. Fruit may be packed with no added sugar.

    Wash, peel if desired, core and slice. Add a cup water to each quart of apple slices. Cook until tender. Cool and strain. Sweeten to taste with ¼ to ¾ cup sugar per quart of sauce. Pack into containers.

    Select fruit that is fully ripe, but still firm. Freeze the fruit as soon as possible after it is harvested. Wash, halve, pit. Peel and slice if desired. If apricots are not peeled, heat in boiling water for 1/2 minute to keep skins from toughening during freezing. Cool in cold water, drain. Treat to prevent darkening. (See directions above.) Prepare apricots for freezing using one of the following methods.

    Syrup Pack: Prepare a heavy syrup (see table below) and add 3/4 teaspoon ascorbic acid per quart. Ladle 1/2 cup syrup into freezer containers. Pit fruit and slice into freezer containers, gently shaking to pack fruit. Leave 1/2-inch headspace. Add more syrup if needed. Seal, label and freeze.

    Sugar Pack: Thoroughly mix 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ascorbic acid and set aside. Pit peeled fruit and slice into a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar mixture and toss gently to coat fruit with sugar. Allow fruit to stand for 10 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Pack fruit into freezer containers leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.

    Puree: Pit and slice 1 pound of fruit. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ascorbic acid. Place mixture in a food processor and puree. Pack puree in a freezer container leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Place a piece of freezer wrap over the top of puree to prevent discoloration. Seal, label and freeze.

    Fruit may also be packed with no sugar added.

    Use tender tips. Wash, discard tough parts of stalk. Leave whole or cut in preferred lengths. Small stalks—2 minutes; medium stalks—3 minutes; large stalks—4 minutes.

    Peel soft, ripe avocados. Cut in half, remove pit, mash pulp. Add 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid to each quart of puree. Package in recipe-size amounts.

    Snap. Use young, tender, stringless. Wash, remove green or wax ends and stems. Cut crosswise or French Julienne style. Blanch 3 minutes.

    Use young, tender, not more than 3 inches across. Wash and sort as to size. Trim tops leaving ½ inch. Cook until tender, 25–30 minutes. Cool. Skin, slice or dice.

    When freezing any food, pack it to allow for 10% expansion (food is mostly water and water expands when turning to ice). Select fully ripe, firm berries. Wash carefully under cold running water, discarding soft, underripe or defective fruit. Remove caps and stems. Place berries in colander to drain. Pack using one of the following methods:

    Dry Pack

    This is the preferred way if you have not yet determined their use. To freeze individually, place washed, well-drained berries in a single layer on a waxed paper lined baking sheet. Freeze berries until firm, then package frozen berries in freezer bags or containers to prevent freezer burn. If it is not important to have the berries individually frozen, wash, drain and package immediately into freezer containers. Frozen berries can be used at the table, in salads, in desserts and/or snacks. Or they can be used later for making jams, jellies, pies, cobblers, or syrups.

    Sugar Pack

    Sprinkle washed berries with sugar to taste and let sit until sugar is completely dissolved. Package in freezer bags or containers.

    Syrup Pack

    For syrup recipe, follow directions in canning section (page 4), using a 30 or 40% syrup depending on the sweetness of the berries. Cool syrup before using. Place berries loosely into freezer containers. Cover with cold sugar syrup, leaving 1 inch head space. Freeze. The sugar syrup will help the berries retain their firmness.

    Use compact, dark green heads. If necessary to remove insects, soak ½ hour in a solution of 4 teaspoons salt to 1 gallon water. Split lengthwise so that flowerettes are not more than 1½ inches across. Blanch approximately 3 minutes depending on thickness, or steam for 5 minutes.

    Use green, firm heads. Cut from stems. Remove coarse outer leaves. Wash thoroughly. Blanch small heads—3 minutes; medium heads—4 minutes; large heads—5 minutes.

    Use small, young carrots. Wash, remove tops, scrape or peel, if desired. Small carrots may be left whole, diced or sliced. Blanch whole carrots, small—5 minutes; diced or sliced—2 minutes; lengthwise strips—2 minutes.

    Use compact, tender, white heads. Break into 1-inch pieces. Wash well. If necessary to remove insects, soak ½ hour in a solution of 4 teaspoons salt to 1 gallon of water. Blanch 3 minutes in boiling water containing 4 teaspoons salt per gallon of water.

    There are several ways to pack cherries for freezing. The best method selected will depend on how you want to use the frozen product.

    Sugar pack

    Mix 2/3 cup sugar per quart of sour cherries; or 1/3 cup sugar per quart of sweet cherries. To package, fill freezer containers to within 1/2 inch from top. If pint or quart freezer bags are used, fill to within 3/4 inches from the top. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Seal and label.

    Unsweetened pack

    Without liquid or sweetening, pack cherries into containers to within 1/2 inch from top. If pint or quart freezer bags are used, fill to within 3/4 inches from the top. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Seal and label. The fruit may be sweetened at the time of serving.

    Loose cherry pack 

    Spread whole sweet cherries in a single layer on shallow trays or cookie sheets and freeze. Remove and quickly package in labeled freezer bags or containers removing as much air as possible from containers. Seal and return promptly to freezer.

    Syrup pack

    A light syrup is recommended for sweet cherries and medium syrup for sour cherries. Allow 1/2 to 2/3 cup of syrup for each pint of fruit. 

    Canned chile peppers. Chiles may be canned whole or cut into smaller pieces. Peel and flatten chile into pint or half-Chile does not require a pretreatment prior to freezing. If chile is to be packed with the skins intact, freeze first on cookie sheets so they can be handled as individual chile pods.

    Pack whole unpeeled chiles in plastic bags or wrap in heavy aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Press down to remove all air and return to freezer. Peeled chiles, whole or diced, can be packaged in plastic bags or rigid containers of glass, metal, or plastic. Leave 1/2" of head space. Seal.

    Freeze chiles immediately after packing. Freeze at 0° F (-18° C) or below. Put no more food into the home freezer than will freeze within 24 hours. Usually this is about two or three pounds of food to each cubic foot of freezer capacity.

    For quickest freezing, place packages against freezing plates or coils and leave a little space between packages so air can circulate freely.

    Corn keeps well frozen. There are three ways to freeze corn: corn on the cob, whole kernel and cream style. When freezing corn, do small amounts at a time. Shuck the corn, remove silks, trim ends, wash and then blanch small ears for 7 minutes, medium ears for 9 minutes and large ears for 11 minutes.

    On the Cob

    Blanching is longer for corn on the cob because it needs the heat to inactivate enzymes in the cob. After you have completed the blanching process, chill corn thoroughly in iced water. Cool long enough for cob to cool, but not so long as to become soggy. A good rule of thumb is to cool the corn as long as it took to blanch it. Drain the water and wrap each ear in separate freezer film or freezer foil. You can put several ears in a freezer bag. Try to remove excess air. Label with date and contents. Freeze at 0°F or lower.

    Whole Kernel

    Blanch for 4 minutes, and then chill. Drain the water. Cut off the kernels to about two thirds depth. A corn cutter can be purchased through the Internet or from a store that sells kitchen equipment. For ease, drive a clean nail through a cutting board and skewer an ear of corn on the nail. Push the cutter down the cob with one easy stroke. Kernels can also be cut off the cob using a sharp knife. Pack the corn tightly into containers or freezer bags, leaving about a half inch head-space on top. Seal bags or packages and label with the date and contents. Freeze in a freezer set at 0°F. Allow air circulation in the freezer so the corn can freeze quickly.

    Cream Style Corn

    Cut the corn at about the center of the kernels and then scrape the cob with the back of the knife to help remove the juice from the cob. Cook the corn in a double broiler. Heat and stir for about 10 minutes or until thickened. Cool the corn quickly by putting the pan in an ice bath. Stir the corn until it has cooled. Package the corn in airtight containers leaving about a half inch headspace on the top. Label with date and contents. Freeze immediately in a freezer set at 0°F.

    Prepare figs as desired.

    Dry Pack

    To prevent darkening of light colored figs, dissolve ascorbic acid (3/4 tsp) in 3 tablespoons water and sprinkle over fruit. Figs may be frozen on a tray first and then packaging in containers, or frozen directly in the container leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

    Syrup Pack

    Use 40% syrup. Add 3/4 tsp. ascorbic acid or 1/2 cup lemon juice to each quart of syrup. Pack figs into containers and cover with cold syrup. Leaving headspace, seal and freeze.

    Sugar Pack

    Use 1 part sugar to 4 parts figs. Leave figs whole or cut in half. Pack in freezing containers.

    Grapes are best frozen in syrup, but grapes to be used for juice or jelly can be frozen without sweetening. To freeze grapes: Choose tender skin, firm, sweet grapes with full color and flavor. Sort, remove stems and wash. Leave seedless grapes whole; cut table grapes with seeds in half and remove seeds.

    Unsweetened pack: Pack into freezer containers without sweetening. Leave 1/2 inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.

    Syrup pack: Pack into containers and cover with cold 40% syrup (1 cup water to 2/3 cup sugar). Leave 1/2 inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.

    Loose pack: Freeze seedless grapes on a large tray or cookie sheet. When frozen, remove and place in freezer bags or cartons and return to freezer. Seal and label. The loose grapes can be used in fruit salads or as “grape” ice cubes to cool summer drinks

    Select firm fruit, free of soft spots. Wash and peel. Section fruit, removing all membranes and seeds. Pack in 40% syrup or in fruit juice, adding ½ teaspoon ascorbic acid per quart of syrup or juice. Grapefruit Juice, Orange Juice. Select fruit as directed for sections. Squeeze juice from fruit using squeezer that does not press oil from rind. Sweeten with 2 Tablespoons sugar per quart of juice or pack unsweetened. Add ¾ teaspoon ascorbic acid per gallon of juice.

    Select fully ripe, firm fruit. Peel. Cut into ¼-inch slices. Pack unsweetened.

    Select firm-fleshed, well-colored, ripe melons. Cut into cubes, slices or balls. Pack in 30% syrup or pack dry using no sugar. Pulp also may be crushed (except watermelon), adding 1 Tablespoon sugar per quart.

    Use small to medium mushrooms, free from spots, white, tight caps. Wash, remove base of stem. If larger than 1 inch across, slice or cut into quarters. To prevent darkening, soak for 5 minutes in a solution of 1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1½ teaspoons citric acid to 1 pint water. Steam whole mushrooms—5 minutes; buttons or quarters—3½ minutes; slices—3 minutes; or saute in butter—4 minutes.

    Select firm, ripe fruit. Sort, wash, pit and peel. Cut in halves, quarters or slices into anti-darkening solution (3 tablespoons lemon juice per quart of water) or into syrup. Pack in 40% syrup, adding ½ teaspoon ascorbic acid per quart syrup. Or, sprinkle each quart of fruit with solution of ¼ teaspoon ascorbic acid dissolved in ¼ cup cold water, add up to b cup sugar, mix well and pack into containers. May also be packed in cold water containing 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid per quart of water.

    Use young, fresh, tender, sweet peas. Wash, then shell. Blanch 1½ minutes.

    Preparing Pears for Freezing and Canning

    The most popular variety is Bartlett pears available the first two weeks in September in Utah. If they are to be transported or not processed immediately, pick while slightly green and allow them to ripen in a cool, dark place. One bushel of pears weights about 50 pounds and will yield 16-25 quarts of pears. A pound of pears yields 2 cups of sliced pears. Wash and peel pears, cut them in half or quarters and core. Place in water containing 1 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid to each pint of water or follow recommendations on commercial preparations that contain ascorbic acid OR use 2 tablespoons salt to 1 gallon of water to prevent discoloration (do not soak longer than 20 minutes). Rinse and drain.

    Freezing Pears

    Prepare pears as above. Make a 40% syrup by boiling 3 cups sugar and 4 cups water. Add pears and simmer 1-2 minutes; drain and cool. Cover with cooled syrup, leaving ½ inch headspace. Add 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid per quart to avoid discoloration (optional). Seal and freeze.

    Use firm, crisp, thick walled. Wash and stem. No blanching necessary.

    Use crisp, green, or red. Wash, remove seeds; cut in half, slice or dice. No blanching necessary. For easier packaging, may blanch halves 3 minutes, slices 2 minutes.

    Select firm, ripe fruit. Pare and remove core and eyes. Slice, dice, crush or cut into wedges. Pack without sugar or in 30% syrup.

    Select firm, deep-colored fruit. Sort and wash. Leave whole or cut in halves or quarters. Pack in 40 to 50% syrup, adding ½ teaspoon ascorbic acid per quart syrup. Or, pack whole fruit into containers without sugar or syrup.

    Use mature, not coarse or stringy. Wash, cut in pieces. Remove seeds. Cook until soft. Put through a sieve or in blender.

    Select firm, tender, well-colored stalks. Wash, trim and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Heat in boiling water 1 minute and cool promptly in cool water to help retain color and flavor, if desired. Pack tightly into containers without sugar or with 40% syrup.

    Use young, tender. Wash, peel, cut into ½-inch cubes. Blanch 2 minutes.

    Use young, tender, green leaves. Wash thoroughly. Cut away thick woody stems. Blanch for 2 minutes.

    Use tender, before rind hardens. Wash, slice or dice into ½-inch pieces. Blanch 3 minutes.

    Use well-ripened, with hard rind. Wash, cut into pieces. Remove seeds and membrane. Cook until tender. May be baked or steamed. Remove pulp from rind and mash. Cool.

    Ripe tomatoes that are frozen are mushy when thawed but can be used in soups and casseroles. Puree and juice are better options.

    Cooked Puree

    Wash, core, and cut tomatoes. Cook until soft. Press through food mill or sieve. Cool and pack into freeze jars or freezer boxes. You can concentrate the puree by boiling until amount is reduced in half.

    Juice

    Wash, core, and cut tomatoes. Simmer about 5 minutes; put through a sieve or food mill. Cool and pack as above. 

    Green Tomatoes

    Wash, core, and slice 1/2 inch thick. Pack tomatoes into freezer jars, or boxes.

    Blanching

    Pole or bush beans, like most vegetables, must be blanched before they can be frozen. Blanching stops enzyme actions that can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching works best if you heat 1 gallon of water to boiling in a large pot fitted with a wire basket, colander, or similar container. Add no more than 1 pound of green beans (4-6 cups) to the boiling water. If the water does not return to a boil within 30 seconds to 1 minute, then there are too many beans. Once the water returns to a boil, blanch beans for 3 minutes (4 minutes at elevations greater than 3500 ft). After 3 minutes, remove the beans using the basket and plunge them into cold water or ice water. The quicker the beans get cooled down the more crispness they will retain.

    Freezing

    Fill pint- or quart-size freezer bags close to full. Squeeze out the excess air. Or, pack rigid freezer containers tight, leaving a ½ -1 inch headspace. For all containers: seal, label and freeze. To freeze beans so that they do not stick together, place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Cover them with plastic wrap and freeze the beans solid. Once the beans are solid, place them into freezer bags or rigid freezer containers.

    The juice can be frozen or canned. Freezing is recommended because juice will hold its flavor and color better. To freeze, fill freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace for expansion. Label with the date, then store in an upright position until the juice is frozen.

    Freeze the seeds for use in salads and appetizers by spreading them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Quickly freeze, then transfer to and store in moisture, vapor-proof freezer bags or containers. For other uses, pack seeds in containers and cover with cold, 30 percent syrup. Make the syrup by heating two cups of sugar in four cups of water until sugar is dissolved. Cool syrup, then pour over fruit. Leave 1/2 inch headspace, seal, and freeze.

    Select firm, tender, well-colored stalks. Wash, trim and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Heat in boiling water 1 minute and cool promptly in cool water to help retain color and flavor, if desired. Pack tightly into containers without sugar or with 40% syrup.

    Fill pint- or quart-size freezer bags close to full. Squeeze out the excess air. Or, tightly pack rigid freezer containers leaving a ½ - 1 inch headspace. For all containers: seal, label and freeze. To freeze squash slices so that they do not stick together, place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze solid. Once the slices are solid, place them into freezer bags or rigid freezer containers.

    Freezing preserves the natural, fresh qualities of venison better than any other method of preservation. Freezing may tenderize meat slightly, but it will not make tough venison tender. For best quality use aged meat (1 week @ 35°F). Prepare venison cuts for cooking, removing all bone and excess fat. Package in family-size or individual servings. Keep venison cold while being cut and wrapped. Pack using one of the following methods, then seal, label, and freeze.

    Large Cuts – Wrap cuts individually in freezer paper, film or foil.

    Steaks or Chops – Wrap individually in freezer paper, film or foil with a double layer of moisture/vapor-proof material placed between each piece of meat to make separation for cooking easier.

    Ground Venison – Pack in family-size servings and wrap as large pieces.

    Note: For short storage periods, venison may be frozen in plastic freezer bags. Seal, label and freeze.

    For freezing, 1¼ pounds of fresh zucchini will equal about 1 pint frozen. One bushel (40 pounds) yields 32 to 40 pints frozen squash.