With Sharon Peterson
Freezing zucchini extras. Ever had an abundance of zucchini…?
Okay, okay, you can stop laughing now. Anyone who has ever planted more than one or two of these prolific plants knows what I am talking about.
Dehydrating and freezing or pickling are the best ways to preserve zucchini.
It’s best to pick zucchini when it is young, before it has developed large seeds in the center. (I suggest removing the seeds if desired, since they’re not that appealing.) After picking, wash in cold water and cut into the desired form, chunks or shredded.
Peeling is optional. If I’m shredding it, I don’t peel. I do sometimes peel the zucchini if I’m freezing in cubes.
I freeze zucchini in cubed pieces or grated. The grated is used for zucchini bread and chocolate zucchini cake. The cubes are good for adding to casseroles or stews.
Nowadays, I often cut zucchini in the shape of French fries using my food processor attachment. When the rest of my family eats spaghetti, I’ll cook these pieces of zucchini for myself instead of pasta, spooning spaghetti sauce over it. It’s really good! And there are other ways you can use it too.
Freezing Zucchini – Shredded or Chopped
Pick zucchini and cut off the ends. You can either use a cheese grater and shred it, or do it the easy way and use a food processor.
Cut into chunks that will fit into your food processor. Using the pulse button if you have one, coarsely chop.
When I grate or shred zucchini, I don’t blanch it, so just pack it into freezer bags, freezer boxes, or other freezer containers.
Freezer bags are my preference. If you use freezer bags, remove as much air as possible. You could even use inexpensive non-freezer baggies, then put them all in a gallon freezer bag. I do that often for shredded zucchini, when I need just a cup or two at a time. Be sure to label with contents and date.
I store 2-cup quantities as this is how much my zucchini chocolate cake requires…you’ve gotta love healthy chocolate cake! 🙂
Freezing Zucchini – Cubed
I blanch any zucchini that I’ve cut into chunks or chopped coarsely, though some people don’t. However, I do because this helps maintain vitamins and reduces the actions of enzymes, which helps the squash stay fresh longer in the freezer.
Zucchini can be blanched in either a large stockpot or your blancher. The blancher works best for me.
Bring a pot of water to a full boil. Put zucchini in a blancher or some kind of a wire basket. Dip into the boiling water. Start counting your time immediately. Blanch for 3 minutes.
Cool the zucchini right away in a pot of cold water. (This stops the cooking.) Stir gently during the cooling process to keep the water from getting hot spots. If the water warms up, add some ice, or drain and add more cold water.
I have seen it recommended that you place the whole basket with your vegetables into your cooling water, but I prefer to dump just the food. You need to keep the water as cold as possible and the blancher will only add more heat!
Leave your zucchini in the cold water for at least 3 minutes.
After it has cooled, drain well. Pat dry or roll gently in a tea towel to dry. If you have a salad spinner, this will work well too.
Pack into freezer bags, freezer boxes, or another freezer container. I layer zucchini in between layers of freezer paper and freeze, then package in gallon bags. I’ve tried to do it with waxed paper, but the waxed paper sticks and makes a big mess. Saran wrap is a little better, but freezer paper still works best in my opinion. Be sure to label and put into the freezer. (If you use freezer bags, remove as much air as possible.)
Freezing Zucchini Tips:
Place packages in a single layer in your freezer until they are completely frozen. Then you can rearrange and stack things more conveniently. This allows the zucchini to freeze as quickly as possible. If you stack several bags on top of each other before freezing, the layers in the middle will take much longer to freeze and may spoil.