Properly stored frozen fruit, whether packaged from fresh or purchased frozen, retains most of its flavor and provides a wholesome treat. Smaller berries are typically frozen whole, and you can use them as you would fresh fruit or in cooked dishes. Large, softer fruits, like peaches, retain much of their flavor but they soften during freezing so they are best suited to cooked dishes. You can store frozen fruit for months if you package it correctly.
Both home-packaged fresh fruit and frozen store-bought fruit retain their quality and wholesomeness for eight to 12 months. The fruit requires storage at a constant temperature below 0 degrees Fahrenheit to remain safe. A standard home freezer, either freestanding or attached to a refrigerator, maintains the proper temperature if it's set correctly. Some fruits, like apples and peaches, may oxidize and begin to brown during freezing or immediately after thawing, but it isn't a sign of spoilage.
Glass or plastic containers, or zip-top bags, work well for freezing if they are airtight and rated for freezer use and help ensure you get a full 12 months of freezer storage. Small fruits, like berries, freeze well whole, while larger fruits, such as apples, freeze better when sliced. Packing sliced fruits in a sugar syrup or adding 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid, available where canning supplies are sold, to each quart of fruit helps prevent browning. When packaging the fruit, leave 1 inch of headspace in each container because the contents will expand as they freeze. Label the containers with the contents and date frozen so you can use it within a year.
Fruit thawed in the refrigerator stay at a safe temperature and don't spoil as they defrost. Small containers and bags thaw more quickly and usually take less than a day to thaw under refrigeration, while larger containers may take two or more days to thaw. Do not thaw fruit at room temperature and keep the fruit stored below 40 F in the fridge to prevent the growth of illness-causing bacteria. Use the fruit within five days after thawing. If the fruit tastes or smells off or bad, dispose of it.
It's safe to refreeze fruit if it's still within the initial 12-month storage period and if the fruit was thawed at temperatures below 40 F. You can return the fruit to the freezer within 24 to 48 hours of refrigerator thawing, but you must use it within the initial eight- to 12-month period. Repeatedly thawing and refreezing the fruit may cause it to discolor or soften further, so it's best to only thaw the amount needed. Accidentally thawed fruit, such as frozen fruit that thaws during a power outage, is usually safe to refreeze within two days if it doesn't develop an off flavor or visible mold growth. Fruit usually ferments as it spoils, which prevents the growth of harmful bacteria.
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