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How To Freeze Apples and Pears

>6 December 2012
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Apple and pear season is over around these parts, but I figured I’d share how I froze a bunch of these fruits this fall, while it’s still fresh in my mind! I would have preferred to turn them into sauces, jellies/preserves, or pie filling to can, but this is the reality of a busy mom. Sometimes, it just doesn’t get done.

The cool thing about freezing fruit is that you can save them to can another day. Or, you have the makings of a quick dessert at your fingertips.

The canning books all tell you to put your fruit in a bowl of cold water with either lemon juice or Fruit Fresh to keep them from turning brown as you work. However, this has never really worked for me. They always turn a little brown regardless. Plus, I hate depending on a product like Fruit Fresh.

As you can imagine, I was excited when I learned a different trick to keep my fruit from browning!

One day about a month ago, my husband, my children, and I took a drive to the mountains for a scenic day-trip. We had stopped for lunch at a quaint little country restaurant. As we walked into the small diner, a steady hum of silverware clanking and people chatting greeted us. The kids and I took our seats at a table in the corner of the small room while my husband went to the counter to order our food. I smiled at the older couple who sat in the booth next to us, and noticed that the gentleman sported a handgun on his hip, which instantly made me feel safer.

They asked if we were from around there, as if they already knew we were outsiders in their small town. I shared that we’d driven up for a visit to some of the old, historic homes. Somehow we got to talking about their property, and the nice lady began telling me about the fruit trees she has around her home- a dozen or so apple and pear trees. I had to stop her to ask if she cans her fruit.

She confided that she doesn’t do much canning anymore, but that she usually freezes her fruits instead. I was intrigued, and asked her how she does it. She brightened at this youngster showing interest in preserving food, and generously shared her secret.

She explained that as she grew up, she was always taught to soak the fruit in salt water as she cut it to keep it from turning brown. But then all of the canning books changed, and started recommending lemon juice or Fruit Fresh. She tried making the switch to this more up-to-date recommendation, but it never worked quite as well as the salt water did. So, she went back to her tried and true method, and has stayed with it ever since.

She doesn’t have any exact measurements or anything, but basically when she’s cutting up a large amount of fruit (apples and pears), she gets a very large bowl, fills it with cold water, and pours enough table salt into the bowl to cover the bottom with a pretty good layer. (When I did it, I swished the salt around a little to dissolve it a bit.) As she cuts and peels the fruit, she drops it into the salty water to sit until the bowl is filled.

Next, she rinses the soaked fruit in cold water and drains it off before filling freezer bags with the still beautifully white fruit.

I was grateful for her advice, and told her I’d have to try that soon. And I did.

how to freeze apples and pears

Not long after, I froze several gallons of sliced apples and pears using her salt soak method, and it worked perfectly. You’d never know these apples had sat out for a while before I put them in the freezer!

how to freeze pears

Nice and white! I’ve been using them in dessert recipes, without the slightest hint of saltiness. Baked apples is one of my favorites to make with my frozen apple slices. I freeze in portions that go along with my favorite recipes.

Do you prefer to freeze apples and pears? How do you keep your fruit from browning?

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46 Comments »

  • JES said:

    Wonderful tip! I love knowing how the old timers did things! As new products like FRUIT FRESH come out, these old ways seem to “disappear” leaving us wondering how Ma did this without these products. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Me too, JES! I want to know how they got by in the old days, without Walmart right up the road!!

  • Julie said:

    Didn’t know salt could be used. I prefer salt over lemon juice. Have to use this method. Thanks for posting.

    And I’d like to know more of how old timers preserved their food.

  • barbara gantt said:

    I learned this trick from my Aunt many years ago. I works for canning fruit too. My Aunt would have the prettiest jars of white apple slices. Everyone always wondered what was her secret. Barbara Gantt

  • LindaG said:

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I knew about lemon. Like you I am always skeptical about chemical stuff for my food.
    Thanks for this new tip!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    You’re very welcome!!

  • Trish said:

    That’s incredible that it doesn’t taste salty at all. I’m going to have to try this for myself. And I hate to take away all your product-hating fun, but Fruit Fresh is just powdered Vitamin C.

  • Renae Plaxico said:

    Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to try this next year when I freeze my apples. I just dealt with slightly brown fruit because I did not like the idea of chemicals on my fruit and I hardly ever had lemon juice on hand. Thanks again for the knowledge.

  • Jamie said:

    I wonder if the salt method would work with a juicer fruit, like peaches?? Anyone know? I have a terrible time getting my boys to eat my frozen or canned peaches as they always seem to brown a little no matter what I try.

  • Anna said:

    I had forgotten about doing this. Thanks for the reminder. Hopefully I will remember next year and my pears won’t turn brown again!

  • Deborah said:

    My mother passed this tip on to me many years ago; she is now 92! And, yes, it does work with peaches. It is all she (and I) have ever used. It really does not take much salt either, just about a tsp. to a gallon of water does it for me. Do stir and dissolve it to give good distribution throughout. Happy freezing and canning.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Deborah,

    It’s good to know this works with peaches, and that you don’t have to use so much salt. Thanks!!!

  • Shelley said:

    I have done this with potatoes as well. Last month for a potluck we were having at church we cut up a bunch of potatoes, squash and sweet potatoes and placed them in a big bowl of salt water the night before. In the morning, we drained and rinsed them, seasoned them up and put everything in a roaster to cook. It saved a lot of time that morning anyway!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    That’s really good to know, Shelley. Thanks!

  • Virginia said:

    Hi Kendra,

    I learned a trick from someone years ago and just love it! Look at the ingredients in Fruit Fresh. You’ll see the main ingredient is ascorbic acid, and then something to keep it from caking. Ascorbic acid is vitamin C. So….go to the vitamin/supplement section of your favorite store. Look for the various Vitamin C bottles. Then check out the ingredients. Choose the bottle with ascorbic acid–not rose hips. Also don’t get any with flavorings, etc. If you can find ONLY ascorbic acid, that’s great. But, you might have to compromise with a bit of “binder,” although I prefer not to. Notice how inexpensive it is compared to Fruit Fresh! A BIG bottle will be cheaper in the long run and last you for many canning projects. Next time you’ve got peaches, apples, or whatever to put up–freezer, canner or dehydrator, put a few tablets in the bottom of your bowl. Add a bit of water, then smash up the tablets. If there are a few chunks not pulverized, it’s okay. They will dissolve. Add your fruit and proceed as usual. I like to add a bit of ascorbic acid to the syrup when I can, too. Works great and it’s cheap.

  • Jaci said:

    I just found your website and I must say so far I love it! SO get used to ltos of questions from me as I try to figure things out! #1 one of my boys loves to eat apples but I would love to preserve them during their peak season….can I just pull these out of the fridge and thaw them fro him to eat as they are..or will they get nasty/slimy in the thawing process?

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    So happy to have you here, Jaci! When you thaw frozen apples they won’t be slimy, but they will be soft, and they won’t be as sweet as fresh apples. They definitely won’t be crisp like a fresh apple. I like them best cooked. Hope that helps!

  • Alison said:

    Thank you for this tip, my life has changed so i need to watch the pennies, so all these tips are a real help to our lives. Isn’t it good to know you’ve helped someone you don’t know and they will remember you for this…… Thank you.

  • christopher said:

    Thanks, I hope this works. Its pear and apple season here.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Have fun harvesting, Christopher!

  • Miz Karen said:

    Just came across your info on Pinterest for freezing apples. Came at the right time as we are taking a trip to the N GA apple orchards the beginning of October and I was just discussing with my husband whether I could freeze apples for pies, etc this winter. Thanks for the info. Will try this out.

  • catherine said:

    I just acquired a large amount of pears and am going to give this a try. thanks for the info
    btw- I had to re-read the sentence where you said the handgun made you feel instantly safe! WOW- I don’t care who the person is- I don’t want to see your handgun unless you’re a police officer. And if I walked in with my kids and saw that, I’d walk right back out.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Catherine,

    Well, as it turned out the gentleman was a Sheriff. As for open carrying… I don’t know of any instances where a citizen open carrying a gun opened fire in public (unless it was to fight back against armed criminals). It’s the guns you don’t see that should concern you ;)

  • catherine said:

    that makes way more sense! I was trying to figure out where in the world people could carry arms so openly. Now- back to chopping and freezing these pears ;)

  • Karen said:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I did it tonight with pairs from our trees and so far so good!

    I did not peel my pears and I did gently pat them dry and spread them onto a cookie tray and placed it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Then, I transferred them into a plastic bag.

    They’ve been in the freezer for about four hours and they look beautiful and white as can be!

    Karen

  • Gina said:

    So excited about your recipe for freezing. My pears and apples look beautiful in the freezer! Thank you so much!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Wonderful, Gina!! So glad I could help.

  • maureen said:

    do they stay crisp as well? that is my concern?i dont want mushy in my pies.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Maureen,

    They don’t come out crisp like a fresh apple, but they aren’t mushy either. I’d describe them as being soft. :)

  • Theresa said:

    I actually saw this bit of info a while back on a different blog. Can’t remember for the life of me which one, but I was looking for apple dip recipes and she said she used salt to preserve her apples that she cut up before guests arrived. I was curious as to what your trick was going to be given that I had heard of the salt thing. Glad it’s the same one! :~)

    Glad to hear it works for frozen apples. I may have to do some of those up! :~) *And love the extra tips from other readers as well!

  • Coni said:

    this story was passed down in our family. Mary had to make a list of everything she would need for 1 year because her husband was going to town, the trip would take 4 weeks there and back. She had to take care of everything on the farm/ranch, her normal chores and duties and now take on the feild and animal care also! Now think about
    everything you would need if your husband went to town only 1 time a
    year! I shortened the story due to space.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    A great lesson for all of us, Coni!

  • Nikki said:

    Hi Kendra

    Just wondering if the apples turn brown when they defrost or would you use them straight for cooking from frozen? I’m wanting to use them for jam but have 7carriers full and cannot use them all at once!!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Nikki,

    If you’re making jelly or jam with the apples, it will turn a golden color anyways, so it doesn’t matter if they brown. Mine haven’t browned much at all after thawing, though I’ve only used them for baking. Hope that helps!

  • Nikki said:

    Thank you so much Kendra,
    Been researching on the net for days for the best way to freeze them and now I know they don’t brown over too much, I have my answer!!
    Thanks again

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Always happy to help, Nikki :)

  • Anita said:

    I’m so glad to find this! Getting ready to do some apples and pears to put in the freezer *and* the dehydrator. I’m going to try this for both ways. I *was* using ascorbic acid in water to soak the apples but they still turn some brown and now that I know that GMO corn is used to make ascorbic acid, I’m not using it anymore. I’m still trying to find something that will keep bananas from turning brown. Even spritzing them with lemon juice doesn’t work very well. We just eat them brown anyway. :-)

  • Anna said:

    Those are so pretty! I had nearly forgotten about being able to keep them from getting dark that way. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Bethany Woods said:

    Great post, Kendra! Thank you for this idea. I’ve been using lemon juice, but this looks more manageable.

    Bethany in mid-MO

  • Cindy said:

    How do you keep bananas from turning brown. I don’t like using fruit fresh or lemon juice. By the way I love your site.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Hi Cindy,

    I’ve never had bananas turn brown while freezing them, only after they thaw. You can freeze them in the peel, or you can peel them first and seal them in a ziploc bag. :)

  • Debby said:

    Thanks! I have a lot of pears from our two trees and have made pies, we have dried a bunch and now I want to freeze some…..thanks again!!

  • linda said:

    Hello , I have to assume to.make a pear pie I would add the pears in the frozen state ? Thanks for posting this was a great help .

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Hi Linda,

    Actually, I would thaw the fruit before baking with it. :)

  • Grant said:

    Hi Kendra,

    I am a mature single bloke living in New Zealand, with two apple trees and one pear tree loaded with fruit. Those that the birds don’t get I thought I would freeze to make pies for the grandchildren when they visit. Your tip on freezing is very welcome. I hope it’s not inappropriate to say that your photograph shows you to be a very beautiful woman. Your husband is a lucky man! All the best. Grant

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    You are too kind, Grant. Thank you. And I’m glad to hear you will try freezing your fruit for your grandchildren. What a treat that will be!

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