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There are many helpful tips for freezing zucchini, a popular summer squash. How the zucchini is prepared depends on how the vegetable will be used in the recipe, and is sometimes left up to the cooks discretion. Cooks will usually shred, slice or dice the vegetable before blanching and then freezing. To ensure high quality produce, these should be young and tender vegetables before being prepared for the freezer.
Slicing before freezing zucchini is preferred, mainly as a way to save space. Cutting the veggie up into pieces and then using different sized bags makes it easy for the cook to thaw just the amount that is needed. Freezing the whole zucchini will typically result in a mushy and mealy vegetable upon thawing.
Once this summer squash is sliced or diced, blanching will stop any enzyme activity in the zucchini. If frozen without blanching, the enzymes will cause the zucchini to be mushy and discolored when removed from the freezer. Cooks recommend blanching only in water, not salt water, as the salt water breaks down the cell walls resulting in a more spongy texture.
For those home cooks that frequently use zucchini in soups or have favorite dishes, chopping them into the proper sizes before freezing is one helpful suggestion. Cutting the zucchini is easy while still fresh, but can be difficult after freezing. If the vegetables are already cut, then the pieces just need to be added to the recipe, often with no additional preparation necessary.
Prior to freezing, spreading them out in a thin layer on cookie sheets prevents the separate pieces from sticking. Cookie sheets are placed into the freezer just until the zucchini become firm. The vegetables are then packed into different sized freezer bags and returned to the freezer. Placing the bags of frozen veggie towards the back is recommended as the areas furthest from the freezer door have less temperature fluctuation.
Instead of freezing zucchini in chunks, the vegetable can be first shredded, and then frozen. Shredded zucchini can be used for fritters, bread and other dishes. Chefs have found that draining the shredded vegetable for about an hour prior to freezing results in less mushy zucchini, as the draining removes any excess liquid.
Peeling the skin before freezing zucchini is optional. Peeled zucchini will result in a uniform color, normally a pale green. Unpeeled will result in a finished dish that has flecks of dark green from the skin of the vegetable.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends only using young, tender zucchini for freezing. Each should have a diameter of approximately two inches (about 5cm) and about six to eight inches (about 15 to 20 cm) long. Young zucchini tends to be better quality with less soft sports and no wrinkles.
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