There are all kinds of reasons to freeze fruits and vegetables. Maybe you went crazy with the berries on sale and can’t possibly eat them all before they go bad. Perhaps your dinner plans changed and you no longer need to feed a crowd. More often than not, I use the freezer to extend the seasons, allowing me to have a bite of summer’s bounty in the middle of winter. No matter the reason, you might wonder if you can you freeze raw vegetables and fruits or if you have to do something to them first.
Before you get started, read up on how to protect your food from freezer burn.
How to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables
Specific freezer tips for individual fruits and vegetables will follow, but the process is mostly the same: start by washing your produce and patting it dry with a clean towel. If you wish, you can chop vegetables or core and slice larger fruits to make them easier to use when they’re thawed. Briefly blanch vegetables to set their color and texture before cooling them down in an ice bath. Then, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and freeze your produce in a single layer. Once the fruits and vegetables are fully frozen, pop them into a freezer bag, labeling and dating each one before stacking them neatly in the freezer.
Can You Freeze Raw Vegetables?
Some vegetables can be frozen raw, but most of them benefit from a quick blanch before freezing. (Read our full blanching guide here.) Dunking vegetables into boiling water stops the enzymes that cause discoloration and turn frozen produce mushy. Just make sure to transfer your veggies to an ice bath immediately after cooking them to cool them down for the freezer and stop the cooking process.
Onions and peppers are the major exceptions – they can be frozen raw – but all other vegetables should be blanched or fully cooked before they hit the freezer. Raw fruit, on the other hand, freezes just fine.
How Long Can You Freeze Fruit and Vegetables?
Citrus fruit is only good for about 3 months, but according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, all other fruits and vegetables will last 8 to 12 months. To extend the life of your frozen produce, we recommend picking up a vacuum sealer to prevent freezer burn and keep your veggies tasting moist and fresh.
Freezer Tips from the Test Kitchen
You can freeze just about any fruit or vegetable except celery, watercress, endive, lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers and radishes. These foods have high water content and become soggy and water-logged when thawed.
Apples: You can freeze whole, unpeeled apples, but sliced apples store better. To prevent browning, steam the apples for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, or dissolve 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid in 3 tablespoons water and sprinkle the mixture over the raw slices before freezing.
Bananas: Freeze whole, ripe bananas for banana bread or another baking recipe. Or, slice the bananas and freeze them flat on a baking sheet for use in smoothies.
Bell Peppers: Unlike other vegetables, you don’t have to blanch bell peppers. Just remove the seeds, cut them into slices or dices, and freeze them flat in a freezer-safe bag.
Berries: Small berries (like blueberries, blackberries or raspberries) can be frozen whole, or you can slice larger berries like strawberries. If you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at making strawberry freezer jam.
Broccoli & Cauliflower: Trim off any leaves and remove the stems. Cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces before blanching for 3 minutes. Then, cool in an ice bath and freeze flat on a baking sheet.
Butternut Squash and other winter squash: Uncooked winter squash tastes very unpalatable and chalky when frozen raw. Chop and cook winter squash in the oven or pressure cooker and allow it to cool before freezing.
Citrus: If you’re freezing citrus for juicing, leave the peels intact and cut the fruit in half before freezing. You could also remove the peels, cut the fruit into sections, and freeze the slices. Before peeling, make sure to zest the rind. That zest freezes exceptionally well in freezer-safe bags.
Corn: The easiest way to freeze corn is off the cob, although you can freeze it whole if you wish. Select the freshest corn and remove the ears and silk. Blanch the cob for 4 minutes and cool it down before removing the kernels with a sharp knife.
Green Beans and Peas: Remove peas from their pods and blanch for 1-1/2 minutes. For green beans (like snap or wax beans), blanch for 3 minutes.
Potatoes: Potatoes have a high water content, even when they’re cooked. We recommend only freezing waxy potatoes, like red potatoes or Yukon golds. They should be chopped and par-cooked for five minutes, either by boiling them, baking them in a 475° F oven or frying them in oil at 350° F.
Stonefruit, like cherries, peaches and plums: It’s best to remove the pit before freezing stonefruit because it can impart a bitter flavor to the fruit in the freezer. If you want to remove the skins, blanch the fruit for 30 seconds. Or, simply remove the pit, slice the unpeeled fruit into quarters or eights, and freeze it flat on a baking sheet. Get our full guide here.
Tomatoes: Thawed tomato skin is very tough, and we recommend removing it before freezing tomatoes. Cut an “x” into the top of a tomato and boil it for 30 seconds. The skins should easily peel off. Then, remove the core and freeze the tomatoes flat. You can also freeze tomato sauce for up to 3 months in freezer-safe containers.
Zucchini and Summer Squash: For use in baking, blanch grated zucchini for 1 to 2 minutes, until translucent. For all other uses, cut zucchini into slices or dices and blanch for 3 to 4 minutes, until firm.
Don’t forget to freeze these farmers market foods to enjoy a freezer full summer, no matter the season!
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