Freezing fruit and vegetables can preserve them for up to a year or longer. This method of preservation is easier and quicker than other methods like canning and drying. Not only is surplus or seasonal produce made available for use all year round, it can also be enjoyed in a fresher, tastier state.
For freezing fruit and vegetables, pick perfectly ripe specimens. These will then, after thawing, be just right to eat. Do not freeze vegetables or fruit that isn't't good for eating right away. Under-ripe produce will remain under-ripe; freezing fruit that is over-ripe will just likely deteriorate its flavor and pulp texture further.
Purchase fresh produce in quantities that can be frozen immediately. Produce, if kept sitting around too long, loses its freshness as well as its firmness and flavor. It also loses many essential nutrients.
There are no long drawn-out preparations for freezing fruit and vegetables. Simply wash them first in ice-cold water. Sometimes the fruit and vegetables are steamed or dipped in boiling water beforehand. This process is called blanching. It improves the overall quality and lasting value of the produce.
Then peel or shell the produce that needs to be peeled or shelled. Remove seeds or pits. Cut and slice into small pieces. It is much easier to freeze produce if it are in small pieces. Smaller fruit, like berries, can be frozen as they are.
Line up the sliced pieces at intervals on a piece of wax paper and place in the freezer for about an hour or so. This initial way of freezing fruit and vegetables will ensure that the individual pieces remain separate and do not stick to each other later. After they have frozen, remove from the wax paper and pack into freezer-grade plastic bags or plastic box containers. Pack loosely, leaving some gap or space within.
Put the packed produce in a chest freezer, a freezer refrigerator, or an upright freezer. The main thing is to use a freezer where the temperature can be adjusted to zero degree Fahrenheit or below for quick freezing. When frozen quickly, the water content in the fruit freezes and forms small ice crystals inside the fruit. This keeps the fruit in more or less intact condition. However, if frozen slowly, larger sized ice crystals are formed. These disrupt and break down the fruit's cell structure, causing the fruit to be not firm but somewhat soggy or soft when thawed.
At normal temperatures, fruit and vegetables tend to rot rapidly due to certain enzyme activities in them. Freezing inactivates these enzymes and thereby slows down the normal rotting process. Freezing also halts the growth of microbes that would otherwise have spoiled the produce.When thawed, these microbes will revert back to usual business, so the thawing must be gradual and carried out inside the freezer refrigerator itself.