If you have access to an apricot tree or two, you can get more fruit than you can eat. So what do you do when you’re eating and eating as much fresh fruit as possible? Can you freeze apricots? How about drying it? Keep reading to learn how to freeze apricots, how to preserve them, and how to dry them for long-term storage.
How to Preserve Apricots
When you’re tired of fresh apricots and the neighbors want nothing more to do with them but you still have plenty of fruit, you’ll need to preserve them. (You can always compost them, but that would be a shame.)
There are three basic ways to preserve fresh apricots: freezing them, making apricot preserves, or drying them. You can also make juice, cans or smoothies out of them, but for now we will focus on the last three methods.
How to Freeze Apricots
Frozen apricots can be frozen with or without sugar and can be halved, sliced, or peeled. Fruit must be prepared before freezing.
Choose firm but fully ripe fruit. Wash the apricots, cut them in half, and set aside. Peeling and slicing are optional. If the fruit is unpeeled, heat it in boiling water for half a minute to prevent the skin from hardening. After half a minute in boiling water, immerse it in ice water to cool, then strain.
Methods for Freezing Apricots
Prepare fruit for freezing in one of the following ways:
Unsweetened Dry Pack:
Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon (750 mg) of ascorbic acid in 1/2 cup cold water per quart of fruit. My heart is with fruit.
Stir the fruit with the dissolved ascorbic acid as above. Mix 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar with 1 liter (950 ml) of chopped fruit.
Either way, pack the apricots leaving 1-1/2-inch (1-2.5 cm) of headspace (headspace depends on the size of the container you’re using). Remove as much air from plastic freezer bags as you can.
Syrup (Liquid) Pack:
For refreshing fruits like apricots, 40-50% syrup should be used. You’ll need about 1/2 cup (100 grams) of syrup for every pint of fruit. Stir the sugar in the lukewarm water until the sugar dissolves. Refrigerate the syrup, which can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. Add 1/4 teaspoon (4 mL) ascorbic acid to the cooled syrup.
Fill the bowl full of syrup, then fill it with the chopped apricots, pressing down firmly. Top with additional syrup as needed, again leaving headspace matching the size of the container. If you are using freezer-type plastic bags, remove as much air as possible. Close the containers.
Label and date frozen fruit. For up to a year, the fruit can be kept frozen.
How to Dry Apricots?
Choose a firm fruit. Wash, cut in half and cut into wedges. Do not peel off. To prevent apricots from turning brown, blend apricots with ascorbic acid as above, or lemon juice and water. Let them soak for 5 minutes. If you don’t care if the fruit changes color, skip this step. Remove the fruit. Arrange the apricot kernels, cut side up, on the dehydrator rack.
Dry 24-36 hours at 130-150F (54-65.5C) for halves, less time for quarters. The dried fruit will be leathery and elastic. After peeling the fruit, you can also dry the apricots with the skin of the fruit. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your dryer.
Store dried fruit in airtight containers or plastic bags in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator or freezer for 6-12 months.
Apricot Preserve Recipe
There are many recipes for apricot preservation. What follows is as easy as it gets with just four ingredients and 30 minutes of your time.
You will need:
- 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) fresh apricots
- ½ cup (60 ml) water
- 1/2 cup (60 ml) lemon juice
- 4 lbs (1.8 kg) granulated sugar
Wash and dry the dishes, place them on a cookie sheet and sterilize them in the oven at 270 F (130 C) for 20 minutes.
Wash and dry the apricots. Cut in half and remove the pit. Place the prepared apricots, water, and lemon juice in a large, wide saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally over medium heat.
When the apricots boil, cover and cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. At this point, if you want a softer preserve, remove it from the heat and puree using a hand mixer.
Otherwise, stir sugar into apricot mixture, stirring constantly. With the lid off, remove the heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. As it cooks, the mixture will decrease and thicken. Remove any foam by spoon-skimming.
After 20 minutes or so, check the stored temperature. It should be thick and 220 F (104 C).
After removing the pot from the heat, give it ten minutes to cool. Carefully pour into warm, sterilized jars. Seal immediately with sterile lids.