Canning zucchini is not recommended, so how can you preserve this delicious vegetable when you have more than you can possibly eat before it goes bad? Freeze it!. In this post, we’ll show your everything you need to know about how to freeze zucchini.
Just like any other type of squash, zucchini can be safely stored in your freezer for a very long time. Even better, there are different methods you can choose from, according to what you plan on using for later. You can freeze zucchini in slices, shredded, like noodles, and even puréed!
When learning how to freeze zucchini, you usually have to prepare the vegetable, blanch it, flash-freeze it, and store it in your freezer.
These steps might vary between techniques, so why don’t we get started, so you can see by yourself how easy it is?
There are many methods for freezing zucchini, and picking the right zucchini for the one you’re going to use is important.
If you want to freeze your zucchini as slices, halves, or noodles, choose young vegetables that are about 2 inches in diameter, and between 6 and 8 inches long. They should be a dark green color without any blemishes or soft spots on the skin.
Larger zucchini is often tough and has more seed, so it’s best-preserved shredded or puréed. Just use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and spongy areas.
If you grow zucchini in your garden, harvest immediately before freezing for optimal quality. Zucchini that’s been harvested two or three days before freezing works too, as long as it’s been stored unwashed in the fridge’s crisper drawer.
We’ve mentioned there are several ways to freeze zucchini, and the first one is the traditional one: by blanching the vegetables first. Searching “how to freeze zucchini” on the internet, will certainly give you blanching among the first results.
If you’re unfamiliar with this term, blanching is a cooking process that involves scalding vegetables in boiling water for a specific timed interval, and then quickly submerging them into an ice bath. This process helps reduce quality loss over time, preserving flavor, color, and texture better than other freezing techniques.
To try it out, you’re going to need:
Ready? Here’s how to blanch zucchini for freezing:
Wash the zucchini thoroughly under cool water to get rid of any dirt and debris, and trim off both ends. If you want to, you can use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin, but this is optional.
Think about how you’re going to use your zucchini in the future and cut them accordingly.
We typically choose to slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch thick slices because it’s perfect for soups, casseroles, sauces, and smoothies. However, if you want to use them in bread, muffins, and other baked goods, you should consider grating rather than slicing them before freezing. (Scroll down to the next freezing method instead.)
You might find that some people instruct you to add salt to the blanching water for some extra flavor, and most of the time, we would too. In this case, however, the salt would soften the cell walls and make the zucchini mushy. Leave the salt for when you make your dish instead.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and set up a large bowl of ice water. Cook the zucchini for 1 to 2 minutes, just until they’re brightly colored and become a bit tender. Leaving them longer than that cooks the zucchini too much, which can make it mushy after thawing.
Then, remove the pieces using a slotted spoon and transfer them into the ice water to stop the cooking process. Let them sit in the ice bath for a few minutes, until they’re cool to the touch. Remove them from the bowl, and use a paper towel to gently blot excess moisture.
Flash-freezing simply means to pre-freeze the zucchini pieces before placing them into a zip-lock bag to prevent them from sticking together. This way, you’ll be able to just grab a handful when you need them.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the zucchini from sticking to the surface. Lay out your zucchini slices in a single layer, making sure that they’re not touching. It’s important that they don’t overlap, so you don’t end up with one big clump of frozen zucchini. If necessary, use another baking sheet and flash-freeze in batches.
Place the baking sheet in the freezer and leave it for 1 to 2 hours, or until the zucchini is solid.
Transfer the firm and frozen zucchini slices to a large, gallon-sized zip-lock bag. Remove as much air as you can before zipping it tight. You can use a straw to suck the air out of the bag. Label the bag with the date, and place it back in the freezer.
Frozen zucchini can last for up to a year, but it’s best to use it within the first 3 to 4 months. After this time, the zucchini will begin to get freezer burn and lose quality.
Frozen zucchini slices are great for sautés, soups, and stir-fries because you can reach into your freezer, grab the exact amount you need, and just toss them in without thawing.
If you’re in a rush or simply don’t want to spend time blanching the zucchini, then this method is perfect for you. Moreover, we’ve found that blanching zucchini doesn’t really affect the final result as it does when freezing basil, for example. When you thaw your zucchini, it will be soft and watery whether you blanch it or not.
So, the secret to freezing zucchini without blanching lies in shredding it, rather than chopping it into pieces. Let’s see how to do it:
Remember that large zucchinis are the best for shredding, so those are the ones we like to use for this method.
Thoroughly wash the zucchini with cool water to remove any dirt and debris. Trim off the top and the bottom, and if you want to, you can use a vegetable peeler to get rid of the skin. However, when you’re using a grater to shred it, we’ve found it’s best to leave the skin, as it actually allows you to have a better hold of the vegetable.
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and the spongy areas in the center. Next, grab a grater if you want to exercise those arms, or simply fit your food processor with a shredding blade.
You’re probably going to end up with a big bowl of shredded zucchini. Wring out as much liquid as possible using a cheesecloth or blot it with a paper towel.
Since the shredded zucchini will stick together as it freezes, you need to measure it out depending on how you plan on using it before packaging it up.
We often separate the zucchini into 1 cup portions in 1-quart freezer-safe bags because that’s the amount our favorite recipes call for, but you can do it however you find most convenient.
Use a straw to remove as much air as you can from the bag, and don’t forget to label it with the exact amount of zucchini and the date. Freeze flat, and use within 8 to 10 months for optimal flavor.
Zucchini purée can be easily used as a replacement for shredded zucchini in any baked goods such as bread and muffins. It also comes in handy when you want to add it to smoothies, soups, and sauces.
Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil over high heat as you prepare your zucchini.
You can use zucchini of any size as long as they’re freshly harvested. Wash them well under running water to remove any residue, and chop off the ends. If your zucchini is large, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and spongy centers.
Slice the zucchini into uniform pieces. Keep in mind that the thicker and bigger the pieces, the longer they’ll take to cook.
Add the zucchini pieces to the boiling pot, and cook them for about 5 minutes until they become tender. You can use a fork to check the tenderness.
Once they’re done, drain them and place them in the bowl of a food processor, or blender, process the pieces until they become a smooth mixture.
Transfer the puréed zucchini to your zip-lock bags. We like to measure it out into 2-cup increments, as that’s what most recipes call for.
Remove as much air as you can from the bags using a straw. Label, and freeze flat for convenient storage.
Frozen zucchini purée should be used within 8 to 10 months for best flavor.
While frozen zoodles won’t have the same texture as fresh ones, they can still be a great addition to soups or stews. However, we don’t recommend them for salads or as a substitute for pasta.
Here’s how to make them:
For zucchini noodles, you can choose any size, small, medium, or large zucchinis, as long as they’re fresh. Wash the vegetables well under cool running water to remove any dirt.
Trim off the ends, and if you’re working with a large zucchini, cut it into more manageable pieces. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and spongy areas in the center.
You’re going to need a vegetable spiralizer to turn the zucchini into noodles quickly and easily. If you don’t have one, don’t worry, you can use a vegetable peeler and a knife that you surely have at hand in your kitchen. Simply slide the peeler down the length of the zucchini to make long strips, and use the knife to slice them into noodle sizes.
Spread your zoodles out on a clean kitchen or paper towel and blot them gently to remove extra moisture. This will prevent them from becoming a big clump of zucchini noodles in the freezer.
Fill your zip-lock bags with the noodles and remove as much air as you can using a straw. Label the bag, and freeze flat for more convenient storage.
Zoodles are best eaten within 3 to 5 months. You can use them frozen and cook them briefly, only about a minute or so.
In most cases, when the time comes for you to take the zucchini out of the freezer and cook with it, you have to thaw it.
You can place the zucchini in the refrigerator and leave it to defrost naturally overnight, or, if you’re in a rush, simply pop it in the microwave to thaw in just a couple of minutes.
After that, we recommend removing any excess moisture before cooking with it, especially when it comes to baking with it. So, add the zucchini to a strainer and gently press down on it.
We hope that these tips have helped you learn how to best preserve your abundant zucchini harvest. Frozen zucchini can be used just like fresh zucchini for most cooked recipes, which makes it a great option to have in your freezer.
As long as you plan ahead and decide on the correct method for freezing your zucchini, you can have it ready in just a couple of minutes and enjoy it for a very long time.
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