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If you grow your own fruit then you will be more than aware that you have little control over the volume your plants produce and that it all arrives at once. Some fruits are better suited to freezing than others, some will not remain firm after defrosting due to the high water content and may be better cooked than served raw. Above all else the key to success in any food preservation techunique is to only use the best quality produce and to preserve as soon as you can after they are harvested. Freezing is no different in this respect. When freezing fruit remember to pick over and remove any pieces of stalk and leaf etc, wash and pat dry only if essential. Over ripe fruit in good condition makes a good puree.

Dry Freezing

This method is best used for soft fruits including raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries and currants. Spread your quality fruits in a single layer over a tray and place in the freezer for about an hour. Move the berries into a sturdy container or bag, labe and put them back in the freezer. The frozen berries can be removed in portions and served frozen or thawed with desserts

Sugar freezing 

This method is great to use with soft fruit you plan to cook with for pies or crumbles such as raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries and currants. Layer your fruit with sugar in a portion sized ridged container. Allow 4 to 6 oz of sugar to each 1lb of fruit and do not pack too tightly.

Syrup freezing

Great for fruit with a delicate flavour such as grapes, figs, melons and peaches or those that have little natural juices. The fruit is best used in cooked desserts when defrosted. Use a light syrup for fruits with more natural sugar and a heavy syrup for the more acidiic varieties. A light syrup is made using 1lb of sugar to 2pints of water, a heavy syrup is made using 2lbs of sugar to 2pints of water, heat the sugar and water together until the sugar has disolved, do not boil. You will need approximately 2 pints of liquid to 3lbs of fruit. Pack the fruit in a ridged container leaving space to the lid for the liquid to expand when freezing. Pour the syrup into the container using a piece of crumpled wax paper to keep the fruit immersed in the syrup. Larger fruits such as damsons, peaches etc should be halved and stoned before packing.

Poaching

This method is best used for hard skinned fruits such as peaches and plumbs as the skins become hard through the freezing process. prepare the fruit by halving and removing any stones. Make up a heavy syrup using 2lbs of sugar to 2 pints of water, stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has disolved. Add the fruit and bring to the boil, simmer for 2 - 3 mins then allow to cool. When ready pack the fruit in ridged containers and cover with the cooking liquid, Allow space for expansion below the container lid.

Purees

Anyone with children will be familiar with preparing pureed food when thay were at the baby stage. For very small quantities purees fit nicely into an ice cube tray and can be removed for storage in bags once frozen. Berries and juicy fruits can be purree in a blender raw and pushed through a seive to remove seeds. More solid fruits will need heating with a little water until pulpy having first removed skin, stones or pips and any blemishes if possible. Once cooked, cool and remove any remianing solid particles, purree in a blender or by pushing through a seive. Add a little sugar to taste to your cooled puree then freeze in portioned containers. Purees are good for adding to fruit mousses, jellies and sponge puddings.

A quick note about defrosting

Due to the solid state of most fruit once frozen it is best to defrost thoroughly before you use them. Berries that have been dry frozen and remained loose can be used semi frozen to eat or decorate cakes and desserts, once defrosted they tend to go soft and juicy which makes them difficult to handle for decoration without making a mess. Any juice produced from defrosted fruit makes a great coulis so dont wash it down the drain, add a little icing/confectioners sugar and enjoy.

Happy freezing!

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