Freeze Fruit Now and Delight Future You
October you says thanks for the berries
Freezing fruit today is like giving your future self a present to open when it's bleak and frigid out and it seems as if all color and joy has been leached from the world. When the market shelves bear nothing but half-hearted apples and drab, hard pears, you'll be topping your yogurt with glorious frozen berries, slinging frozen peach slices on your cereal with abandon, and decking every baked good with cheer-bringing frozen cherries. But you have start freezing fruit now while it's in peak season, and you need to learn how to freeze fruit correctly so your hopes aren't dashed by a sad bag of freezer-burned mush.
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, boysenberries, and blackberries all freeze beautifully and take just a little prep work before you chill them. Wash strawberries with the tops still on (they can get soggy otherwise), then hull or slice them before freezing. Other berries might be a bit delicate for running water, so put them in a colander and dunk them into a bowl of cold water to rinse them. Pat the berries dry with paper towels, then spread them in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze solid. Then place them in a freezer-safe bag. Alternately, if you have large freezer bags, lay them flat on the baking sheet and place the dry berries in them in single layers with the sides not touching. This is to keep them from hardening into a solid block of pulp.
Label the bags and keep them frozen for three to six months. They won't go bad, but ice crystals make make them slightly less delightful after that point. If you feel like adding a sprinkle of sugar to the berries before freezing, that's your business.
Peaches, plums, pluots, nectarines, pluots, and other stone fruit are prime candidates for freezing. Just put a little thought into how you'd like to use them when they're thawed, and cut or peel accordingly. Will they be the inside of a pie (sliced), chunked up in a baked good (chopped), or added to a smoothie (you probably wanna peel that)? In any case, wash them, ditch the pit, pat the pieces dry (ice crystals are tedious) and use the same baking sheet method as for the berries. Freeze for up to six months.
Cherries and Grapes
You guessed it—the baking sheet method, but with a few variables. If you're freezing the cherries whole, just remove the stems. If you'd care to remove the pit or slice them, that's dandy, too. Grapes can be left whole. Just wash them first, prepare them as you'd like, and spread out the properly-dried pieces to chill before putting them in a labeled, freezer-safe bag.
Most melons take beautifully to freezing, but watermelon will pretty much just turn to ice because of its high water content. Enjoy that in real time. For Crenshaw, honeydew, cantaloupe, and the like, remove the rind, cut the fruit into slices or chunks, or use a melon baller. You know what to do from here.
Peel and slice that tasty fella and use all this accumulated freezer knowledge to enjoy a little bit of edible sunshine in the darker months.