Extension Connection: Preserve fruit through individual packs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Freezing is one of the most convenient ways to preserve foods at home. The extreme cold stops growth of microorganisms and slows down changes that affect quality in food.

Fruit Packs

There are several ways to pack fruit for freezing, such as a syrup pack, sugar pack, dry pack or unsweetened pack. Most fruits have better texture and flavor if packed in sugar or syrup, however, sugar is not needed to preserve the fruit.

Sugar syrups can be made by dissolving sugar in water completely and then pouring itaround and over fruit in the packed container. You may need to heat the water to get all of the sugar dissolved, but completely cool or even refrigerate the syrup to get it cold before using on fruit.

Use 2 3/4 cups sugar to 4 cups of water, for most fruits. For mild or very sweet fruits, use 1 3/4 cups sugar per 4 cups of water. About 1/2 to 2/3 cups of syrup is needed per pint of fruit.

To make sugar packs, simply sprinkle sugar over fruit and mix gently until the juice is drawn out and the sugar dissolved.

Dry packing works best with berries and smaller fruits. Pack the fruit, seal and freeze.

Peaches, apples, pears and apricots darken quickly when exposed to air and can darken in thawing. Use ascorbic acid to prevent discoloration of fruits.

Ascorbic acid in

powder form is available at some drugstores or where freezing supplies are sold.

Add 1/2 teaspoon pure powdered ascorbic acid to cold syrup, stir gently, not to add air.

To use in sugar or dry packs, dissolve in two or three tablespoons of cold water and sprinkle over fruit just before adding sugar.

Packaging & Labeling

Most foods require headspace, between the packed food and closure, to allow for expansion as food freezes. Headspace recommendations can be found at the Web site listed below.

Do not overload your freezer.

Quick freezing is best for frozen food quality. Spread the new packages around until they are frozen; then they can be stacked.

Most fruits and vegetables will remain high in quality for eight to 12 months. Longer storage will not spoil food, but may impair its quality