It’s summertime again and it’s nectarine season. Also sometimes called “shaved peaches”, nectarines can be even more delicious than regular peaches, although they do not have the characteristic fuzzy exterior. In fact, nectarines actually do contain more vitamins than peaches (especially vitamin A and vitamin C)
The problem with nectarines is that the timespan in which they are perfect to eat is very short (see also How To Freeze Plums). Fully ripened nectarines will start to turn soft within 5 days. If they are not fully ripe, they will often be as hard as stone. Which only leaves you with about a week to eat them in the perfect state. If you’ve got a nectarine tree, or for whatever reason, have a large bath of nectarines on your hands, this can be very difficult to do.
So, how do we overcome this problem? By freezing the nectarines, of course! But is that really a good idea? Below you’ll find all the tips and tricks you need in order to freeze your nectarines and enjoy them year-around.
Is Freezing Nectarines A Good Idea?
As you might imagine, we are not the only ones who thought of freezing nectarines. In fact, we’ve heard many readers and acquaintances ask about this. Here is what a dear friend asked me last summer:
What do you do with a huge pile of nectarines? My parents have some nectarine trees in their yard, and this year, they got a lot of fruit. When they visited last time, they brought over a trunk full of nectarines. No matter how much I bake pies and make fruit salads (see also Freezing Kiwi), there is no way we can eat so many. However, we do love nectarines. Is freezing them an option? Would they be tasty to eat after thawing? And should I freeze whole nectarines or cut them into pieces first?
The short answer is yes, you can freeze nectarines! Once frozen, they will keep in the freezer for 3 months at least (they won’t spoil even after a year, but the texture does start to degrade after a couple of months and the flavour is not getting any better, so it’s better to use them sooner). The truth is, thawed nectarines do not feel exactly the same when eaten fresh on their own, but you will hardly notice any difference if you use them for baking or smoothies, for example.
Freezing Nectarines Step By Step
Freezing Whole Nectarines
If you have lots of nectarines and enough space in your freezer, you might as well go ahead and freeze them whole. This is always an option, but it does take up a lot of space in the freezer. So, if you want to save space you might consider cutting the nectarines first (see below). Another downside of freezing whole nectarines is that you have to wait longer for them to thaw before you can eat them – or cut them for that matter. Pre-cut nectarines, for example, can be used for baking straight out of the freezer.
The upside, is of course, less work with prepping the nectarines for freezing. All you need to do is wash them, dry them, and place them in a freezer-safe container. When washing the nectarines make sure to separate any bruised fruits. These are better used immediately.
Freezing Nectarine Pieces
Freezing nectarine pieces is not difficult, but if you use this trick the result will be much nicer. Namely, you’ll first want to freeze each piece individually. Of course, you won’t be freezing them one by one. You’ll just spread them out on a baking sheet.
To use this method, first take your nectarines, slice them in half and remove the pits. You can cut them in slices in any shape and size you like. You can freeze nectarines with or without the peel – it depends on personal preference.
Once you have prepared the nectarine pieces, spread them out in a thin layer on a baking sheet (use parchment paper on it to prevent the nectarines from sticking to the baking sheet when frozen). As you might guess, you’ll be putting the baking sheet with the spread-out nectarines into the freezer.
If your freezer is not that big, don’t worry. You can use a plate or any kind of large container that fits. You just want as big of a surface as possible since you’ll want to spread out your nectarine pieces. They should be arranged in a single layer, without touching each other. This will ensure the individual pieces don’t stick together when frozen. This way, you can simply take out exactly as many pieces as you currently need.
So, once you’ve spread your nectarines on the baking sheet, put them in the freezer for approximately 5 hours. You could leave them overnight too or as long as 24 hours, but no longer than that. Once the pieces are frozen, simply transfer them into an air-tight, freezer-safe container.