Getty / Julia Khusainova
Summer is an extraordinary time for fruit: berries of all kinds, melons, and stone fruits like peaches and plums. But here's the tricky thing about these seasonal beauties – they have a much shorter shelf life than their fall and winter cousins, so things go bad quickly. How to enjoy these sweet gems longer… maybe all the way into winter?
Okay, there's jam. And there's nothing wrong with that. But here's the real hack. Freeze those beauties!
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Why you should freeze summer fruits
Your freezer is your best friend when it comes to saving the flavor of summer! Freezing summer fruits is like having a dessert insurance policy. Whether you make purees of fruit to use in sorbets or ice creams or freeze whole berries and sliced stone fruits for use in pies, tarts, smoothies, and shakes, having bags of frozen fruit makes desserts all year long have the bright taste of summer.
And it couldn't be easier.
How to freeze summer fruits
First, to freeze these fruits, you begin by prepping them for actual use.
What does this mean? Wash them well for starters. If you're freezing stone fruits, remove the pits and slice them. If you're freezing cherries, remove the pits and slice. Berries? Remove any leaves, pits, and stems.
To freeze in whole pieces (this is ideal for later baking or recipes where you want whole pieces): Arrange the prepared fruit in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet pan, making sure the fruit pieces don't touch. Freeze uncovered for about 4 hours to overnight, until frozen solid. Store the fruit in a zip top freezer bag or vacuum sealer bag. Freezing this way will ensure that you can remove only the fruit you need when you need it, without it all freezing into one giant block. Frozen fruit will last 3 months in freezer bags and 6-10 months in vacuum sealed bags.
To make purees to freeze: Simply put the prepped fruit in your blender and blitz to your desired smoothness or run through a food mill. If you are pureeing fruits that have a lot of seeds, like blackberries or raspberries, it is worth it to pass through a sieve to remove as many of them as possible. Package in one-cup measures in freezer bags or freezer containers. Voila! Purees will last 6-12 months. This gets you all the way through to next summer!
How to use frozen summer fruit
If you're working with whole fruits in baking or other desserts, use straight from frozen; just add extra time to any cooking or baking to adjust. Thawing will make the fruit lose a lot of water, and with it, flavor. Nigella Lawson pours warm chocolate ganache over frozen berries for a great hot/cold dessert that is a showstopper you can pull off in moments.
If you're using a frozen puree, you do want to thaw before using. These purees are the beginning of amazing sorbets or ice creams or can be a simple sauce for cakes or tarts with just the addition of a little sugar and perhaps a splash of liqueur.