Freezing is one of the easiest, most convenient ways to prepare foods at home. Freezing food stops the growth of microorganisms and slows the changes that affect their overall quality. Though freezing fruit does not completely destroy bacteria, molds, and yeasts that cause spoilage, it does preserve much of its fresh flavor and nutritional value.
So, how long does frozen fruit last? Frozen fruit lasts about a year.
Frozen fruits are some of the healthiest foods on the market right now. They are packed with nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants. This is because they are picked at their peak ripeness before being frozen, meaning that they are frozen right at the point when they contain their most nutrients. And because freezing preserves food, there is no need for any additives, making frozen fruit chemical-free.
Alternatively, you can freeze fresh fruit at home in order to extend its life and preserve its sweetness. In fact, freezing fresh fruit is the best way to control quality and freeze your fruit at its peak ripeness.
Tips And Techniques: How To Freeze Fresh Fruit
No matter which fruit is your favorite, all fruits can be frozen!
To properly store your fresh fruit at home, follow the steps outlined below:
- Wash your fruit and dry it thoroughly. You want to remove as much moisture as possible from your fruit. Do not allow your fruit to soak for too long in water as you wash it or it will lose nutrients and flavor.
- If your fruit has any skin, peel it off. Take care to remove any gashes and bruises that extend deeper into the fruit.
- Slice or cut any larger fruits into smaller-sized pieces. Think of preparing your fruits as they will be used in the future – stemmed, pitted, peeled, or sliced.
- Pat your freshly-cut pieces dry one more time, double-checking that you have removed as much moisture as possible from each piece.
- Optional suggestion: Freeze your fruit on a cookie or baking sheet for up to 3 hours or until fully frozen. Pre-freezing the fruit on a tray prevents the fruit from sticking together when it is transferred into a freezing bag for long-term storage.
- Consider the type of container that you will use to store your fruit. Containers that are suitable for freezing fruits include plastic freezer containers, flexible freezer bags, or glass jars.
- Put your fruit pieces into labeled freezer bags or containers. Prior to sealing, remove as much air as possible from each freezer bag before storing it in your freezer.
Optional packing: While sugar is not necessary to safely preserve fruit, most fruits retain a better texture and flavor if packed in sugar or syrup when frozen. Sugar also helps to maintain the color of fruit during freezing.
The three ways to pack fruit for freezing are sugar pack, syrup pack, and unsweetened pack. The type of pack you choose to use will depend largely on the intended use of the fruit in the future. Fruits that will be used in pies or in other cooked products are often packed in sugar. Fruits that will eventually be served uncooked are often stored in syrup made of sugar and water. Fruits that will be used in sorbets or smoothies are often left unsweetened when frozen.
Syrup packing preserves fruit with the firmest texture, such as pears or apples. Fruits like peaches or cut strawberries do best when frozen with sugar or sugar substitutes since those sweeteners discourage darkening. Fruits that go brown easily, like apples and bananas, can be treated with powdered Vitamin C prior to freezing.
Fruits that are frozen without sugar tend to freeze harder and take longer to thaw.
How Long Does Frozen Fruit Last?
There are a variety of factors that impact the shelf-life of frozen fruit, such as the preparation method and the conditions under which the fruit has been stored.
Most store-bought frozen fruits will have a “best by” date stamped somewhere on the bag. This label is different than an expiration date and generally means that the frozen fruit can last beyond this date if stored properly.
Properly storing frozen fruit means storing the fruit consistently in a freezer set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. There should be no damage to the storage bag.
Generally speaking, unopened frozen fruit can last for up to 8-10 months. If you have opened the bag and are refreezing your frozen fruit, the shelf-life is decreased to 6-8 months.
When freezing fresh fruit, if you have followed the directions outlined above and taken care to store your fresh fruit properly, the shelf-life is roughly 12 months.
How To Check If Frozen Fruit Is Still Good
Use the following tips and techniques to check that your frozen fruit is safe to eat:
- Look for any dulling in the color of the fruit – any discoloration indicates freezer burn.
- Check for frostbitten spots – the presence of ice crystals or pieces of white ice stuck to the fruit is a sign that the fruit pieces have been compromised by freezer burn.
- Smell it – your fruits’ odor may not be detectable until it has had a chance to thaw, but any changes to the natural aroma of your fruit indicate that it has gone bad.
- Texture – after your pieces have thawed, if there is any slimy residue or if the pieces have not maintained their proper texture, these should no longer be consumed.
How To Freeze Specific Fruits
Not all fresh fruit is the same, so here are some tips and techniques for freezing specific types of fruit that may help you freeze each more effectively:
- Apricots: These do not require peeling before freezing.
- Apples: Sweet apples tend to freeze better than tart apples. If you are storing large batches of applies, after peeling and slicing each apple, soak each piece in saltwater. This will better preserve your apple slices.
- Bananas: You can either leave bananas whole or cut them into slices before storing them. If leaving bananas whole, place them in a freezer bag as they are. If you are slicing them prior to storage, place the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer and put them in the freezer for 1-2 hours or until fully frozen. Once hardened, transfer these frozen chunks of banana to a freezer bag.
- Berries: Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries (once sliced) should first be frozen on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Once hardened, transfer these berries to a freezer bag.
- Cherries: Cherries should be pitted before freezing.
- Citrus: Grapefruits, lemons, limes, oranges, and other citrus fruits are best preserved by saving the zest and the juice separately. Zest can be stored directly in freezer bags, whereas juice should be kept in ice cube trays.
- Grapes: Make sure to stem the grapes before freezing. Leave seedless grapes whole; For grapes with seeds, cut them in half and remove the seeds before storing them.
- Melons: Cantaloupe and honeydew freeze well, but watermelon does not. Talking about watermelons, find what does yellow watermelon tastes like?. This is due to the high water content of watermelon. Take care to remove the seeds of the melon before freezing.
- Pears: In addition to peeling and slicing, be sure to core your pears before storage.
- Pineapple: Be sure to peel and core the pineapple before freezing. You can also juice the pineapple and freeze the liquid in ice cube trays.
Remember these tips when freezing any type of fruit for future use:
- Whenever possible, choose fruit at its peak quality and freeze it when it’s ripe.
- Before adding your fruit to the freezer, set the freezer to its coldest setting. This will create the ideal environment to store your fruit.
- Pack your fruit in air-tight containers or moisture-proof, heavy-duty freezer bags. Make sure that your high-quality storage bags seal tightly. Choose an appropriately-sized bag for the amount of fruit that you are freezing.
- Do not use plastic sandwich bags – these aren’t durable enough for freezing long-term.
- Remove as much air as possible before placing bags of fruit in the freezer. Air in the freezer bag can lead to the formation of ice crystals that will ruin your fruit when it is thawed.
- Wrap freezer bags in heavy-duty foil and seal with freezer tape.
- Label your bags of fruit with the date that it is frozen so that you know when you need to eat them.
When it’s time to use the fruit again, you can either thaw it before use or throw it directly into recipes frozen. Frozen fruits can be used for smoothies or homemade sorbet; Thawed fruit can be used in jams, pies, or eaten just as they are.
Fruit can be thawed in the refrigerator or by putting it in a strainer and running it under cold water. Make sure to only thaw as much as you want to use – you cannot freeze it again.
Freezing your fruit is easy and affordable ensures that you have a steady supply of what you need in your freezer at all times.
How Long Does Opened Frozen Fruit Last?
Frozen fruits are generally good for upwards of 10 months, but their shelf-life is decreased if the bag in which the fruit is stored is opened at any point during its frozen period. It is recommended that you follow the “best by” date located on the bag of store-bought frozen fruits, though oftentimes the fruit is still consumable past that listed date.
Can You Eat Two-Year-Old Frozen Fruit?
Unopened packages of frozen fruit can keep for 8-10 months past their printed date. It is not advised that you eat fruit that has any questionable appearance, texture, or smell when thawed after being frozen for upwards of a year.
How Long Can Frozen Fruit Be Left Out?
Fruits tend to have a higher concentration of water than most foods. Generally speaking, frozen fruit can take about 6-8 hours to thaw. Once thawed, if it goes back in the freezer, there is even more space for ice crystals to form, which can lead to greater moisture retention and freezer burn.
It is important to be aware of the safety and quality control issues that come along with the refreezing process, which is why it isn’t recommended that fruits be frozen more than once.
To cut down on the need to do this, only take out the exact amount that you need and leave the rest in the freezer to save for a future date.