FRUITS

Blanch fruits first [except berries, see below]: although most produce can be frozen immediately, blanching is the best way to stop oxidization. Peel, wash and cut up first, then plonge into boiling water briefly. Remove from the water as soon as it comes to a boil again. Cool the fruits on the counter; then package and freeze. Never freeze something hot or lukewarm, ice crystals will form inside cells and break them down.

Cook up a storm: make a big batch of stewed fruit, sauce or juice and freeze, thus preserving their goodness for the weeks and months ahead.

Cooked/baked fruit dishes [soups, purees, jams, sauces, juices...] will keep longer.

Freeze berries individually [do not blanch]: spread fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and gooseberries in a simgle layer on cookie sheets and freeze. As soon as they are hard, bag, label and store them in the freezer.

Freeze only the freshest fruits.

Frozen germs burst into activity when defrosted, so make sure your hands, utensils and work surfaces are uncontaminated.

Keep them cool: the usual freezer temperature of -4°F [-18°C] is not really enough. The water content in the fruits must be deep frozen quickly to keep cells from breaking down. For best results, set the freezer at -13°F [-25°C], -22°F [-30°C] being even better.

Label packages carefully: no more mysterious packages! Label everything with the contents and date. Well chosen, wrapped and frozen, fruits will last for up to 1 year.

Puree fresh fruits [see coulis] or deocorate exotic drinks or serve jams and yogurts with slices of fruit.

Select only the very freshest, unbruised fruits; freezing will preserve their goodness, not restore it.

Small well filled containers = minimum contact with air.

The less air that comes in contact with the food, the longer it will last.

Whenever possible, remove air with a straw before sealing; the less air, the better the fruits will keep.

Wrap well before freezing: package fruits in small, usable quantities. Fill containers [leaving a little head space for expansion], remove as much air as possible [try using a straw] and seal carefully.