With the kids back in school, it means those free-wheeling summer days are almost at their end. While autumn has crimson and gold to replace summer's bright greens, winter can be dark. Take a preemptive strike against the coming gray by preserving a little bit of summer's brightest fruits for the future. By freezing the season's still-flourishing crop of berries and stone fruits soon, you can save a slice of sunshine through the winter for a particularly dreary day.
It's practical, economical, and easy too! Here's how:
Prepping the fruits Whatever type of produce you pick - be it apples, melons, or berries - pick ones that are in good condition. They should be free of bruises and decay, and you should also remove their stems, leaves, or pits when applicable.
- For Berries: Give your berries a good rinse, scanning through to remove debris, leaves, or any berries that seem bruised or mushy. Once they've been cleaned, pour them out onto a dry cloth or paper towel.
- For Stone Fruits: Peaches, nectarines, apricots, and cherries need to be pitted and halved prior to being frozen, for the best results. Run your paring knife around the fruit, all the way to the pit, until it's halved. Gently twist the fruit in opposite directions around the cut. Separate the halves and slice them into quarters. Discard the seeds. Coat your slices in a little sugar and lemon juice. This helps keep your stone fruits from drying out and browning as they freeze.
- For Melons: Halve your melon, scooping out the seeds. Peel and cut the fruit into little cubes, or use a melon baller to scoop out little circles.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour your fruit of choice onto the sheet into a single layer and pop it into the freezer overnight (or at least until they've frosted over). Freezing it this way keeps the fruits from freezing together in a big clump (and keeps you from having to bang them on the kitchen counter before using them!)
- Once the individual fruits have frozen over, toss them into a Ziploc bag, mark them, and store them as you want!