How to Replace Plastic Packaged Frozen Fruit

I may look like a complete weirdo as I carefully transfer berries from plastic boxes to my jars but I’m pretty much okay with that. I don’t want to be normal in this throwaway society.

Farmers’ market strawberries in plastic boxes

Your area’s silly food laws may vary

Here is the deal on the little plastic boxes for strawberries at my farmers’ market in Palo Alto, California.

If I (gently) dump the berries into a produce bag or a jar and return the baskets to the vendor while I’m at the booth, the vendor can reuse them. If I take them home and later return them, the vendor can’t reuse them unless they first steam them with a very expensive piece of equipment that no one owns.

The thinking behind this law is that the baskets become contaminated in our homes. So, if I return them to the vendor after bringing them home, they will recycle them, which is often more like wish-cycling. The China ban on taking our trash—and why should China take it?—has exposed this. Much of our plastic has never been recycled an now much of it goes to landfill, according to this investigative piece in The Guardian.

The vendors who sell eggs are also not supposed to reused cartons customers return but some do. It’s a little bit ridiculous that manufacturers can make all of this stuff with no rules to clean up after themselves but we have silly food laws that won’t allow us to return a basket or in some areas, fill up a jar with bulk food. These laws—like our society—need a complete overhaul.

My berry shopping equipment

I bring my jars to the farmers’ market in my beloved jar bag, handmade by A Tiny Forest. This is not a sponsored blog post. I simply love my bag and every time I post it, many people ask me where they can get one. If you sew, you can buy the pattern for the bag. One day, I will make one!

I may look like a complete weirdo as I carefully transfer berries from plastic boxes to my jars but I’m pretty much okay with that. I don’t want to be normal in this throwaway society. After I transfer the berries to my jars, I can return the baskets and know they will be reused, with the added bonus of keeping my berries intact and preventing them from transforming into jam on the way home.

I took the lids off for the pic

The print above made me think of the pattern below…

Each stripe represents the average temperature in California for one year over the past 100. Find your region’s pattern at Show Your Stripes.

How to freeze fruit without rendering giant frozen blobs

When I get home, I freeze some of these. I fill one or two of the jars with water, swish around the berries, clean them, cut them in half, spread them on a cookie sheet, freeze them, then transfer them back to that jar I brought them home in and put that in the freezer. This reduces the number of dishes I have to wash.

frozen fruit spread out on a cookie sheet
Strawberries frozen on a cookie sheet

By freezing the berries spread out on a cookie sheet, I end up with individually frozen berries rather than a giant frozen lump. You can freeze all sorts of food in glass jars. Say you have leftover soup you won’t eat this week. Put it in the freezer. Keep it there for a few days, a few weeks or longer. Go here for more on freezing food without plastic.

glass jar filled with frozen fruit
Glass jar filled with frozen strawberries

Yes, I realize that freezers aren’t the most environmentally friendly appliances but most people who live indoors in the US use a refrigerator and built-in freezer. I one day dream of living without one. Yes, I know I dream big…

An empty freezer uses as much energy as a full one. Unless you put very hot food in there. Then the freezer will initially consume more energy to cool that hot food. Refrigerator and freezer efficiency is a post for another day…

Squirreling away plastic-free frozen fruit for the winter

The small amounts of fruit I freeze don’t last long—a few weeks maximum. If you have a chest freezer and want to freeze large amounts of fruit to last several months, look for a U-Pick Farm. You’ll reduce packaging waste, save money and have fun!

frozen fruit on a cookie sheet

13 Replies to “How to Replace Plastic Packaged Frozen Fruit”

  1. OneGreenSmoothie says: Reply

    This post should be titled, “Most creative, helpful idea ever!” Thank you! We need to get someone in Sacramento to change this ridiculous law.

    1. Hahaha. Thank you. Yes, we need to change some of these silly food laws! Come on Sacramento!

  2. Here is a blog post about a lady in Ky that is living without a refrigerator although she does have a chest freezer. I have frozen fruits like this for many years. Works wonderfully. Even apple slices for pie or cobblers. I do have a small chest freezer. Keep up the wonderful posts!

    1. Hi Kitty,

      Thank you for the link! Like the author, I too believe that refrigerators cause a lot of food waste. The bigger the refrigerator, the more food we buy and the more food goes to waste. Great idea to freeze apple slices. Enjoy your pies, cobblers and everything else you make 🙂

      ~ Anne Marie

  3. I have also found that jars fit pretty well in those beer and wine bags, the ones with six slots. Actually, my six year old figured this out when we bought a set of drinking glasses at a garage sale and needed to get them home safely. Luckily we had some bags in the car

  4. Anne-Marie, your posts are spot on. Thank you for being a voice of reason in support of a more reasonable way to go about living.

  5. Great post! Thank you so much for including links to The Guardian and to the Etsy vendor selling those fantastic-looking bags to carry Mason jars in!! I love to learn & try new things and I had never before heard of The Guardian, nor the fact that someone had finally developed a very clever way to carry those wonderfully versatile jars! Love your blog!

  6. I couldn’t ever live without a freezer here in Northern tropical Australia however I try to use it very effectively and eliminate a lot of waste by using it. A great post, thankyou.

  7. Our farmer’s market is making a push towards being more sustainable, so most of the vendors use wooden or paper baskets for produce these days. A small basket helps me carry the breakables safely.

  8. I love it when restaurants use recyclable materials like bamboo or paper straw instead of plastics. Did you know that you can also preserve your food & protect your family with rganic, reusable foodwraps? You might want to check this out

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  10. This is a brilliant idea!! Definitely going to try this now!

  11. I cut up and froze a whole chicken in glass jars a couple months ago and took a picture of it because it amused me (it wouldn’t attach here). My stepson said it made a gross sound when he took it out, LOL! I was delighted with this use of jars!

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