Can You Freeze Fresh Pineapple?
Fresh pineapple doesn't store long at room temperature—two days, tops. You might get an additional three days if you refrigerate it. So even when you find pineapple at a great price, you may hesitate to buy in bulk, wondering, "Can you freeze fresh pineapple?" The fact is, you can, and the process is pretty quick and simple.
The trickiest part of freezing pineapple is picking out a ripe one. The peak season for fresh pineapple runs from March to July, but pineapples are available for sale in most grocery stores year-round. To choose a good pineapple, start with smell. A ripe pineapple has a sweet, tropical, pineapple smell. It should feel heavy for its size and have a nice, plump shape.
Color varies depending on variety. Some are green when ripe; others are yellow-gold. Check the bottom for any sign of mold. If you see even a speck, put that pineapple back. Other signs to avoid include soft or dark spots and a fermented smell. Yellowed leaves and darkened eyes also indicate an over-ripe fruit.
Fresh pineapple doesn't ripen once it's picked, so don't leave it sit out thinking it will sweeten up like other fruits. Pineapples don't have any starch reserves that can turn to sugar, so the only thing that happens when you let it sit out is that it over-ripens and starts to ferment.
If you buy a bunch of pineapples on sale to freeze, you need to tackle the task within a day or two. You can extend the freshness window to three to five days by placing pineapples in perforated plastic bags and putting them in the refrigerator. But it's always better to freeze fruits as soon as possible after harvest or purchase.
Cutting a pineapple isn't difficult. Remove the top and bottom, cut in half, and slice away the outer skin. Don't toss it; you can squeeze juice out of this section for fresh drinking or freezing. Many people remove the core and compost it, but a pineapple core contains bromelain, a naturally-occurring anti-inflammatory. Slice and freeze the cores for juicing and drinking.
Cut pineapple into whatever size chunks or slices you want. Place the pineapple pieces on a baking tray. Because pineapple is juicy, it's wise to line the tray with parchment, plastic wrap, or wax paper first. This simple step makes removing the frozen pineapple easier.
Place the tray into the freezer to quick freeze the pineapple pieces. After everything is frozen solid, pack pineapple into freezer bags or containers. Remove as much air as possible from bags. A vacuum sealer works well, as does a straw. If you cut pineapple into pieces that approximate the size of canned pineapple chunks, you should be able to fit about half a pineapple into a quart-size freezer bag.
Plums are a natural for home gardens with their compact size and easy-growing nature. These trees tend to be beautiful specimens and bear heavy loads of fruit—not enough to overwhelm, but more than enough to balance fresh eating with sharing and putting by. ‘Opal’ plum trees are self-fertile. Fruit ripens early in the season, ripening over a two-week window, so you’re not overwhelmed with produce.
Give yourself a treat by planting a cherry tree. These trees add beauty with their spring blooms, and it’s tough to beat the tasty fruit. Just make sure you protect your crop from hungry birds with a little scare tape or netting. For small yards, look for Compact Stella, a self-fertile cherry that grows 10 to 12 feet tall and starts bearing within two years. If you’re into pie baking, plant sour cherries, which are self-fertile. Other cherries need a pollinating partner.
In warm regions (Zones 8-10), kumquats make an excellent addition to the family yard. Trees have a natural compact size and classic deep green citrus-type leaves. Fruits are small and egg-shaped and decorate trees from late fall to early spring. Kumquats are fully edible—skins and flesh. Skins are sweet, while the flesh is tart, making for an unusual flavor combination. It’s the ideal choice for marmalade. Trees adapt well to containers in areas with colder winters.
Few fruits compete with the sensory delight peaches offer, from fuzzy skin to juice-dribbling flesh. Peach trees are lovely in flower and add good color to landscapes. Most peach trees are self-fertile, so you can get away with planting just one tree. The most critical aspect of choosing a tree is cold hardiness—make sure you’re getting a tree that will survive your winters. In colder zones, avoid planting peach trees on southern exposures, or you risk early blooms that a late frost might zap. Check out columnar peaches, which take up little space and adapt to containers.
For gardeners in Zones 9 to 10, mandarin oranges can serve as a stunning landscape plant with their deep green leaves, fragrant blooms and bright orange fruit. In colder zones, choose dwarf mandarin trees for container culture. Mandarins are actually hardier than standard oranges and feature that easy-peeling fruit perfect for tossing into salads. Semi-dwarf trees usually withstand pruning to a certain size. ‘Satsumi’ is the coldest hardy variety. Other good choices are ‘Honey’ and ‘Encore.’ ‘Pixie’ is more of a shrub.
Pears combine beauty with delicious fruit that’s a gift to any size yard. Look for dwarf pears sold on rootstock Pyrodwarf, which produces trees 6 to 8 feet tall. ‘Beurre Bosc Dwarf’ is a genetic dwarf pear that grows 8 to 10 feet high. This photo shows cordon pears. Cordon refers to a type of stem training and pruning that results in a tightly upright growth form. The method works on pear or apple trees that produce fruit on spur-bearing shoots, which are short side shoots along stems. You’ll get the best harvest by planting more than one pear tree for cross-pollination.
Fresh ripe apricots are nothing like their hard, store-bought cousins. A ripe apricot is actually too soft to ship, so the only way to enjoy that taste treat is to pick it fresh from the tree. Apricot trees are medium size, but you can find dwarf varieties. This fruit tree easily holds its own as an ornamental in the landscape. Some varieties are self-pollinating, but most need a partner nearby. In colder zones, look for varieties that flower later to avoid losing blossoms to late spring frosts.
Fragrant leaves, flowers and fruits make Kaffir lime a delight to grow, whether in the landscape or in a pot. Dwarf Kaffir Lime tops out at 6 to 10 feet and is versatile in the kitchen, prized for its leaves, fruit zest and juice. This is the must-have lime for preparing Thai, Lao and Cambodian cuisine. Mexican or key lime is another good choice for home gardens. Lime trees are very cold sensitive and must be protected from frost. Most limes are self-pollinating, although the flowers easily beckon bees with their sweet fragrance.
Whether you grow them in a pot or small backyard orchard, apples bring a familiar, cherished fruit to the landscape. Spring flowers transform trees into works of art. Choose dwarf or cordon-type (columnar) trees for landscapes and containers. Apple blossoms need to be cross-pollinated. Ask where you purchase your trees which varieties are compatible with yours.
Small, 1-inch fruits resemble tangerines and offer an unusual taste treat. The peels on calamondin are sweet, while the flesh has more of a tart zing. This is a citrus tree that’s commonly grown in containers. It’s one of the more cold-hardy citrus trees, tolerating temperatures to 20°F. The trees are highly ornamental with deep green leaves punctuated by white flowers or orange fruit.
When it comes to easy, figs are near the top of the list. Plants grow with few demands. Pruning may be top of the list, although if you grow naturally short types, like ‘Black Jack’ or ‘Improved Brown Turkey,’ pruning to control height isn’t needed. Some varieties send up suckers to form fig colonies that resemble an oversize shrub. You can also raise a fig tree in a container, which is one way to grow this tasty dessert fruit in colder zones. Figs are self-pollinating.
Don’t overlook lemons when planning an edible home landscape. Fresh lemons bring sparkle and color to the dinner table and play a key role in many dishes, including fish, vegetables, desserts and cocktails. Ripe ‘Improved Meyer’ lemon fruit lasts eight months or more on the tree. In colder zones, grow lemons in pots that you can haul outside for summer and place in a protected location come winter.
For a stunning fall display, you won’t go wrong adding persimmons to your landscape. Fall leaves offer a host of fiery hues, and fruits turn deep orange when ripe. Most unripe persimmons are astringent, but ripened fruits are referred to as “food of the gods.” Asian varieties tend to be shorter, while native American types are full-on trees. Look for dwarf varieties for smaller spaces. Persimmons aren’t self-fertile; you’ll need two trees for fruit production.
Botanically speaking, tangerines and mandarin oranges have the same Latin name. In California, ‘Dancy’ is a long-favorite variety, with loose skin and late-season ripening. For many orchard owners, ‘Dancy’ sets the standard for tangerine flavor. In the home garden, consider ‘Fremont’ tangerine, with fruit that’s wonderful fresh or juiced. Ripe fruit lasts up to 8 months on the tree. Another long-time California favorite is Ojai Pixie, which is usually sold as ‘Pixie’ mandarin.
Thawed pineapple tastes great and has a texture that's similar to fresh. You can eat thawed pineapple by itself or mixed with other fresh fruit. It also works well as a pizza topping or served with ice cream.
Choose frozen pineapple for a healthy, refreshing snack. Thawed slightly, you can mix frozen pineapple with any type of juice to serve a slushy dessert. Freeze pineapple with grapes or cubed cantaloupe to make a delicious frozen fruit blend. Frozen pineapple works well in pineapple upside down cake and other baked goods. Thaw pineapple before adding to cake or muffin batters. You can also use frozen pineapple to create jam, marmalade, or chutney.
To use pineapple cores for their anti-inflammatory properties, pulse thawed core slices in a blender or food processor. Add a little water to create a slurry you can drink. Don't add other fruits to this mixture, or the bromelain will break down the fruits. If you sip it straight, the bromelain will attack areas of inflammation in your joints.
If you want, you can also puree pineapple before freezing. Freeze the puree in ice cube trays. Once frozen solid, pack the pineapple cubes in freezer bags. These cubes make a tasty addition to smoothies and daiquiris. You can also toss pineapple cubes into juice, fruit teas, or lemonade for a chilling, flavorful effect. For best quality, eat frozen pineapple—chunks or puree—within six to 12 months.