Plums are a delicious stone fruit that hits peak season in late summer. Their sweet, juicy flesh makes them perfect for snacking, baking, jams, and more.
But like all fruit, plums have a relatively short shelf life once ripe. So what’s the best way to enjoy their flavor year-round? Freezing plums is an easy way to extend their shelf life, so you can enjoy their sweetness in the off-season.
How to freeze plums
Freezing plums allows you to enjoy their flavor long after summer is over. Here are some tips for freezing plums at their peak ripeness:
- Choose ripe, unblemished plums. Select plums that yield slightly when gently pressed but aren’t mushy. Unripe plums won’t be as flavorful when thawed.
- Wash and dry the plums. Give them a quick rinse and pat them dry with a paper towel or clean dishcloth. The less moisture on the plums when frozen, the better.
- Remove the pits. Cut the plums in half lengthwise and remove the pits. This makes them easier to use later.
- Arrange on a baking sheet. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place the plum halves face down in a single layer, leaving space between each half.
- Freeze until solid. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for 2-3 hours until the plum halves are completely frozen.
- Transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag. Once frozen, transfer the plum halves to zipper freezer bags or airtight containers. Squeeze out excess air and seal.
- Label and date the container. Note the type of fruit and date so you know how long they’ve been frozen.
- Store in the freezer for up to 10–12 months. Properly frozen, pitted plums will stay fresh for up to a year.
Tips for Freezing Plums
Follow these tips for the best results when freezing plums:
- Select ripe, flavorful varieties. Red and black plums tend to freeze better than yellow varieties. Santa Rosa, Elephant Heart, and Friar are good choices.
- Avoid overripe fruit. Plums that are very soft or have leaking juice will turn mushy when frozen and thawed.
- Prevent browning. To minimize oxidation, add ascorbic acid or lemon juice to the water when blanching plums before freezing.
- Blanch is a firmer variety. Plums with firm flesh can be blanched for 1 minute before freezing to help maintain texture.
- Use high-quality freezer bags. Choose thick, moisture-proof bags designed specifically for freezing to prevent freezer burn.
- Squeeze out air. Press bags to remove as much air as possible and prevent ice crystals.
- Avoid overcrowding. Freeze plum halves in a single layer on trays before transferring to bags.
Following these guidelines will help ensure your frozen plums retain their texture, flavor, and nutrients.
Can you freeze whole plums?
You can freeze plums whole with the pits still inside, but it’s not recommended. Here’s why:
- The pits take up space needed for the flesh to expand as ice crystals form. This can lead to a mushy texture.
- The skin can become tough and leathery when frozen.
- Removing the pits allows you better portion control when using the plums later.
- The pits contain a small amount of cyanide. While the amount is harmless for eating fresh, it can concentrate during freezing.
For the highest-quality frozen plums, remove the pits before freezing. The flesh decomposes faster with the pit inside.
However, if you want to freeze a small batch quickly, leaving the pits in won’t make the plums harmful or inedible. Just expect slightly lower quality compared to properly pitted plums.
How to Use Frozen Plums
Frozen plums are remarkably versatile. Their sweet-tart flavor adds creativity to recipes like:
- Smoothies: Blend frozen plum halves into fruit smoothies. Their texture is perfect once thawed.
- Yogurt parfaits: Layer frozen plums with Greek yogurt and granola for a quick breakfast.
- Oatmeal: Add diced frozen plums to oatmeal along with cinnamon and walnuts.
- Baking: Use frozen plums in muffins, cakes, crisps, and galettes. There is no need to thaw first.
- Jams and chutneys: Simmer frozen plums with sugar and spices to make preserves.
- Sauces: Puree with sugar and lemon juice for a vibrant plum sauce for pork or poultry.
Frozen plums are ready to use straight from the freezer. Their texture holds up well in most recipes without thawing.
Storage Time for Frozen Plums
Properly stored in airtight freezer bags or containers, pitted frozen plums will last for:
- 6–12 months for the highest quality
- Up to 1 year for good quality
Signs your frozen plums are past their prime:
- Noticeable freezer burn
- Off or fermented aromas
- Dry, mushy texture
As long as they still smell and look okay, frozen plums stored for longer than 1 year are still safe to eat. But their flavor and texture will deteriorate over time.
For best results, try to use your frozen plums within a year. Properly seal the container and avoid temperature fluctuations for maximum frozen storage time.
Freezing Plum Puree and Juice
In addition to freezing whole plums, you can also freeze:
- Plum puree: Cook plums with sugar to taste, then puree in a blender or food processor. Let it cool completely before freezing it in airtight bags or containers.
- Plum juice: Simmer plums with water and sugar to taste. Strain out the solids, let cool, and freeze juice in ice cube trays or bags.
When freezing plum purees and juices, leave 1⁄2 to 1 inch of headspace to allow for expansion. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
Can You Refreeze Thawed Plums?
It’s best not to refreeze plums that have completely thawed. When fruit thaws and refreezes, it can damage the cell structure. This causes thawed plums to have a mushier, lower-quality texture.
However, you can safely refreeze plums if they still contain ice crystals and are not completely thawed.
Follow these tips for refreezing plums properly:
- Refreeze immediately before thawing is complete.
- Only refreeze once; don’t let the plums thaw and refreeze more than once.
- Use refrozen plums for cooking instead of eating them raw.
- Blanch in boiling water for 1 minute before refreezing for better texture.
- Store refrozen plums for no more than 3–4 months for best quality.
In most cases, it’s better to thaw frozen plums in the refrigerator and use them within 2–3 days. But refreezing plums with ice crystals is safe in a pinch.
Choosing the Best Plum Varieties for Freezing
While most plums freeze well, some varieties hold up better than others. The best plums for freezing include:
- Santa Rosa: sweet, tangy flavor. Firm flesh resists turning mushy. One of the best plums for eating fresh or frozen
- Elephant Heart: large, heart-shaped purple plum with firm red flesh Excellent for freezing whole or sliced.
- Friar: a medium-sized black plum renowned for its sweetness. Flesh stays firm when frozen.
- Damson: small, oval blue plums with a tart flavor. Often used for jams and purees. Freeze well.
- Greengage: round green plums with melt-in-your-mouth flesh Perfect for freezing into a puree.
Avoid freezing softer plum varieties like plumcots, which turn mushy when thawed. Ripe but still firm black, red, or blue plums freeze best.
Preventing oxidation and browning
To help plum halves retain their color after freezing, you can dip them in an acidic solution before freezing. This helps prevent oxidation and browning. Two easy options are:
- Ascorbic acid solution: 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid per 2 cups of water
- Citrus juice: 1-2 tablespoons of lemon, lime, or orange juice per 2 cups of water
Dip plum halves in the solution for 1-2 minutes, lift out with a slotted spoon, and pat dry before freezing. The acid helps stabilize the color and flavor.
Freezer Burn and How to Avoid It
Freezer burn appears as dry, leathery patches on frozen fruits. It develops when air reaches the surface of the fruit. To help prevent it:
- Seal freezer bags tightly, pressing out excess air.
- Use high-quality bags designed for freezing.
- Wrap fruits well in plastic wrap before bagging, if needed.
- Avoid overfilling bags or containers.
- Store bags flat rather than standing up.
- Place bags against the wall of the freezer rather than on the door.
With proper packaging, ripe plums should freeze without damage from freezer burn.
Following Proper Thawing Methods
To preserve the texture of frozen plums after thawing, avoid thawing at room temperature or in hot water. Best thawing methods:
- In the refrigerator overnight
- In a bowl of cool or lukewarm water, change the water every 30 minutes.
- In the microwave, using 30% power, stir occasionally.
Letting plums thaw too fast or at hot temperatures causes the fruit flesh to break down more. Thaw gently for the highest quality results.
FAQ About Freezing Plums
Still have questions about the best way to freeze plums? Here are answers to some common questions:
Should you blanch plums before freezing?
Blanching is recommended for firmer plum varieties to help maintain texture. To blanch: Boil a pot of water, add plums for 1 minute, then immediately transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Pat it dry before freezing.
Do you have to use ascorbic acid?
While optional, ascorbic acid or lemon juice helps prevent oxidation that causes browning of the flesh. For every 2 cups of water, add 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the blanching water.
What’s the best container for frozen plums?
Airtight plastic freezer bags or containers are ideal. Rigid plastic containers protect against crushing but take up more room. Sturdy double-layer freezer bags work well if you squeeze out excess air.
Should you coat plums with sugar or syrup before freezing?
You can lightly coat sliced plums in sugar or a simple syrup before freezing, but it’s not required. The fruit’s natural juices are enough to prevent sticking if you pack it loosely.
Is it better to freeze plums whole, sliced, or pureed?
Halves or slices are the most convenient for snacking and recipes. Puree works well for sauces and smoothies. Whole plums take up more room and can split during freezing.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.