freezing summer fruit

jars with lemon zest ready for filling

one of the tricks of eating seasonally is preserving fresh fruit and vegetables for eating off-season. i try to do this with minimal invasion to the raw, freshness, which means i try to avoid overcooking or processing. i tend not to make jams or jellies, because i tend to stay away from anything that calls for more sugar than the main ingredient. freezing summer fruits, especially stone fruit, has been a great way to have a peach galette in winter or a nectarine topping for oatmeal. or in this case, plums, so visions of sugarplums can dance in your heads by the holidays.

i like to put my fruit up by layering chopped pieces with lemon zest, squeezing a half a lemon’s juice into the jar, and filling the remaining space with water. i use lemon partially as a preservative and partially as a flavor enhancer, which it does really well with all kinds of fruit. i’m using 8-oz jars, so you can figure 1 lemon for each pair of jars. to get started, use your zester to zest the lemons you’ll be using, and drop a pinch of zest into the bottom of each.

how to slice stone fruit

the best way to prepare stone fruit is to cut around the pit along the natural seam of the fruit in a complete circle. then twist the two halves in opposite directions to loosen the flesh from the pit. you can either pull the pit out, or cut it out. at this point, you’ve sliced the fruit lengthwise, so you can section it off to the size of your choosing and then cut crosswise. i prefer to slice lengthwise into eighths, and then make crosswise cuts that allow the fruit to stack compactly.

slicing and chopping plums

you can chop them all up, or pack as you go. layer your chopped plums into the jars, and put another pinch of lemon zest on each layer until your jar is filled with about a half-inch of headspace. i like to tamp it down with a spoon as i go.

layering chopped plums and lemon zest for freezing

put your last pinch on the top, squeeze your lemon juice over the fruit, and fill the rest with water to just cover the fruit on top. i like to put my jars uncovered into the freezer just to make sure the expansion of freezing water doesn’t overfill or pressurize and crack the jars. once they’re frozen, tighten the caps to finger-tight and freeze until you’re ready to use!

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