Frozen fruit is a fantastic way to capture the freshest, ripest flavor of the season so you can enjoy it later. Freezing does compromise the original texture of berries, cherries, peaches, plums, and other fruit, and that does slightly limit the ways you can use them. For instance, frozen fruit works better in baked goods or smoothies than it does out-of-hand or in fruit salads.
The good news is that the difference between most things made with fresh or frozen fruit is usually undetectable. In some cases, the frozen version is even better. That's because the fruit is usually frozen at the height of the season when the flavor is best. Additionally, the slight dehydration that naturally occurs in even the best freezing circumstances actually intensifies the flavor of the fruit. In some instances, you might not have to wait for the fruit to thaw and can just start cooking.
01 of 08
Frozen fruit bakes up beautifully in cakes, allowing you to enjoy a taste of any season year-round. It could be a simple sponge cake with a bit of fruit tossed in or thicker pudding-style cakes laden with fruit. Fruit can also make something like a humble coffeecake more interesting.
For instance, freezing rhubarb means you can enjoy something like a strawberry rhubarb crumb cake in the depths of winter. A tray of frozen blueberries in July lets you bake up a blueberry bundt cake whenever you like. Set aside some cranberries around Thanksgiving and you can savor the taste of a cranberry upside-down cake when the mood hits.
02 of 08
Cobblers & Crisps
Crisps and cobblers are absolutely perfect for frozen fruits and they're incredibly easy. Quite often, these homey, satisfying desserts simply require plopping a bag of frozen fruit into a baking pan, mixing in some sugar, maybe a bit of spice or a thickener, and adding a topping of crumble or biscuit dough. Bake it up until it's bubbling and brown and dessert is served!
A basic cobbler recipe can be used for any berry, including cherries, it's simply a matter of substituting the fruit. The same can be done with your favorite recipes for pear cobbler and apple crisp, which are just as delicious in spring as they are during the autumn harvest.
03 of 08
Ice Cream & Sorbet
Frozen desserts are a natural fit for frozen fruits. They add a deliciously sweet flavor to ice creams and sorbets, as well as frozen yogurt and sherbet. And, as anyone who owns an ice cream maker knows, it's fun to experiment with fruity combinations. Having a few options in your freezer makes it even better.
Unless you freeze the fruit mashed or pureed, you will likely have to thaw the fruit first. Some recipes, such as this blueberry ice cream, require no cooking—simply combine the ingredients, chill the mix, then freeze. Others start out with a quick-cooked syrup that breaks down the fruit. That has to be cooled, of course, but something like a pear sorbet is worth the extra step. You can also get creative with your fruit choices. Enjoying a kiwi sorbet or melon sorbet in the middle of winter is sure to brighten a dull day.
04 of 08
Jam & Other Preserves
Freezing in-season fruit is a great way to put off jam-making. If you're too busy to spend time in the kitchen or just want to wait until the weather cools down, you can freeze the fruit as it ripens without compromising the final product. Making preserves is also a fabulous way to use up an overabundance of frozen fruit and clear out the freezer.
Traditionally, fruit jams are made with the canning method. Once you get the supplies and try it a few times, you'll find that it's not a daunting task, but makes an enjoyable day in the kitchen. If you want to skip that process, try a freezer jam. These have to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and eaten within a year, but they're much easier. You can also layer flavors, as in the spiced caramel pear jam, or make more savory, even spicy, fruit chutneys.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Much like cakes, frozen fruit—berries in particular—are perfect for stirring into a muffin batter. Frozen blueberries, for example, are just as good as—if not better than—their juicy fresh counterparts in blueberry muffins. These strawberry ricotta muffins are a great way to use frozen strawberries. Even ripe bananas can be frozen for banana muffins if you don't have the time to use them right away.
Don't forget about tropical fruits, either. Serving guests passion fruit muffins at a brunch is sure to grab their attention. And, if the fruit's waiting in your freezer, you don't have to hunt them down at the market.
06 of 08
Pies & Tarts (and Galettes & Crostadas)
As with crisps and cobblers, there is no need to defrost fruit before using it in your favorite recipe for a pie or tart. Freezing the fruit's summer taste lets you enjoy a peach pie or blueberry pie in December, and a chocolate raspberry tart is a lovely ending to Valentine's Day dinner. You can create an impressive plum and almond tart or try your hand at something a little more free-form like a galette or crostata.
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Shakes & Smoothies
The texture of frozen fruit actually helps cool and thicken shakes and smoothies. This is one instance where frozen really is a better choice over fresh fruit. Plus, if the fruit is already prepared and ready to use before freezing, it's even easier to mix up a mixed berry smoothie or blueberry kale smoothie on busy mornings or for a quick snack.