Zucchini is a very popular summer vegetable for gardeners to grow in their garden. They are used in a variety of dishes starting from pasta, salads to baked goods, casseroles, and stuffing. It has a very long growing season, which means you will probably end up with a whole lot of them. So, if you are drowning in your summer harvest of green and yellow zucchinis, do not give it to your neighbors or let it go to waste. Freezing is the best way to preserve your summer harvest, and use it long after the season. We have 5 best ways to freeze and store your zucchinis for later use.
Can you Freeze Zucchini for Later Use?
Yes, freezing zucchinis is quite simple. And you can store your zucchini in various shapes and ways like
- Whole Zucchini
- Zucchini Cut into Pieces
How Long Can You Freeze Zucchini – They keeps fresh for at least 3-4 months. Some people keep it for up to a year, but preserving it for that long does affect its flavor and freshness.
Guide to Freezing Zucchini Squash: Instructions to Freeze
It is very easy to preserve zucchini as they freeze well. You can use zucchini in soups, salads, pasta, center filling, casseroles, and baked goodies. When you can enjoy so much deliciousness throughout the year, it is best to store the zucchini fresh, right after harvesting it.
Storing Cut/Sliced Zucchini
1. Cutting the Vegetable
Begin with washing the vegetable to get rid of the dirt and debris. As storing the vegetable without washing is unhygienic and poses health risks.
Decide from the beginning, what you are going to use the zucchini for so that you can cut it likewise. You can cut it, slice it, dice it or chop it, as per your requirement. You may also slice it into thick strings, or cut it like spaghetti or Zucchini noodles also known as zoodles.
Now you wish to peel them or not, is totally up to you. But, most people prefer to keep the peel on unless it is too tough to eat, as it keeps them firmer after thawing.
Kitchen Tip: It is important that you cut the squash into your desired forms, as it is not possible to cut into neat pieces after thawing.
2. Blanching the Vegetable
- Blanching helps in extending the shelf life of the vegetable. Transfer the larger cut zucchini pieces into a large pot of boiling water for 1-3 minutes. Keep them till they are soft and turn a brighter green. Make sure that they are just soft enough and not become mushy in the process.
- When it comes to shredded or finely chopped zucchini, steam no more than 2 minutes in a steamer basket.
- Once done, transfer the zucchini into ice-cold water and leave it up to 5 minutes.
- Following that, transfer the zucchini into a colander to let it drain completely.
- Freezing the Squash without BlanchingBlanching retains the colors of the fresh vegetables when freezing them. It also helps in preserving the natural enzymes of the vegetable intact, retaining its natural flavor and nutritional value longer. Therefore, it is for all the good reasons that you should blanch zucchini before tossing it away in the freezer for later use.
Kitchen Tip: Do not add salt to the boiling water, when blanching as it may turn the zucchini mushy. Remember to cut the squash in small batches, enough to blanch in a single batch, because if left long after cutting, the vegetable starts browning.
3. Packaging and Freezing of Zucchini Slices
- Arrange the zucchini slices on a baking tray in a single layer, making sure that the pieces are not touching each other.
- Once the tray is set, pop it into the freezer for 2-3 hours, until the pieces are almost frozen.
- Take the almost frozen slices out of the freezer and toss them into a ziplock bag.
- Do not fill the zipper pouches till the top. And release as much of air possible before sealing it. Freezing the zucchini pieces individually, before storing in the ziplock bag, ensures that it is easy to handle them for later use.
Using it later: Take out the desired quantity you want to use in a warm bowl for a while until they thaw back into their original state. You can use these for baking and frying, both.
Freezing Shredded Zucchini
You need to steam the shredded zucchini for 2-3 minutes and transfer in an airtight bag before it is frozen. Thaw them in the when you want to use it in zucchini bread, muffins, and other recipes.
Can You Freeze Whole Zucchini (Raw)
But sometimes, when you have large yields from your garden, then chopping, slicing and dicing them all at once may seem too much. Then you can directly store the whole raw zucchini in large freezer bags. But, make sure to use them within 2-3months. And, if you want to store for a longer period of time, blanching is the way.
Can You Freeze Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)
Many do not prefer storing zoodles or zucchini noodles in the freezer, as it tends to become soft, mushy and soggy after thawing. This is why it is recommended to freeze other vegetable noodles like sweet potato and other squashes. If you still wish to freeze zoodles, you can simply transfer them in ziplock bags and store it until further use.
You can also add salt to the zoodles and soak in paper towels before freezing, as it makes it more suitable for further use in heavier pasta sauces.
Using it Later: Take out the frozen zoodles and dip them into warm water to thaw it.
How To Freeze Cooked Zucchini
This is the best part of this summer squash and makes it a favorite. You can choose to freeze this delicacy even after cooking it. Zucchini boats and lasagna freeze very well and remain fresh for up to 2-3 months. All you need is sealable bags, transfer the cooled item into the bags. Get rid of any excess air and toss them into the freezer. Cut the lasagna into smaller pieces for your convenience.
When you wish to use the cooked frozen zucchini item, simply put the bag into the refrigerator overnight, and warm it well the next day in the oven. It is as fresh as ever.
How to Use Frozen Zucchini
You can never run out of ideas to make interesting lip-smacking recipes from frozen zucchinis. Here are some ideas to make some delicious dishes;
- zucchini bread
- sautéed zucchini
- zucchini pancakes
- baby food
- and more