Freezing Zucchini and Summer Squash: A Great Way to Chill Out

Follow these steps and enjoy nutritious zucchini any time.

Zucchini

Zucchini

Zucchini

©2013, Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

2013, Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

For the home gardener, zucchini is often a first-round pick when planning the summer garden, and with good reason. Easy to grow and with a long growing season, zucchini is an easy home run when looking to fill the gathering basket.

And fill it you will. Harvest begins in early summer and does not let up until summer is over. Depending on your growing zone, that can mean a whole lot of zucchini.

Or maybe you just have a lot of zucchini from the grocer and not enough time to eat it all? Freezing is the answer you are looking for.

Zucchini bread, sauteed zucchini, grilled zucchini, zucchini muffins, marinated zucchini salad, zucchini pancakes, zucchini fries, zucchini lasagna, zucchini frittata, zucchini pizza, zucchini quiche, zucchini in zucchini sauce, zucchini stuffed zucchini, zucchini zucchini…

Needless to say, it is a prolific vegetable.

By mid-summer, the ideas have run out. Bags of zucchini begin to appear in the office break room or are left on your front porch as other intrepid gardeners also face zucchini burnout, desperate to clear the counter before the only choice is the compost pile.

Sure, you're sick of them too. But take them all. Every last one. Don't worry. We have a plan.

Believe it or not, there will come a day when a zucchini muffin is going to sound pretty good. Added to a hearty winter soup, that zucchini heft and flavor might be just the ticket. And we’ll be ready.

Zucchini (and summer squash, for that matter) freezes well. With a little preparation up front, zucchini and squash can become a welcome "go to" for fall and winter cooking.

Preparing to Freeze

Consider how you will use your zucchini or squash. Do you love it sliced into a stir fry? Chopped and steamed? Grated for baking? Do you love zucchini noodles? Shredded zucchini? Sliced, chopped or grated, it all freezes the same and come winter you will appreciate being able to thaw and dump without having to fool with it a second time.

Once your vegetables are prepared, we have one more stop before hitting the big freeze.

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Blanching

Like all vegetables, zucchini has enzymes within that will soften, discolor and deplete nutrients in the produce over time, even when frozen. Blanching — a quick bath in boiling water — will destroy the enzymes and any bacteria that may be lurking.

Bring some unsalted water to boil in a pot deep enough to completely submerge manageable batches. I use my colander to determine batch size, as the processed zucchini will go back in there once blanched and cooled.

Once a rolling boil is reached, drop the zucchini into the pot for 3 to 4 minutes. When it comes out, the zucchini should still be firm.

Transfer into a very large bowl or pot of ice water using a slotted spoon to suspend cooking.

Move the zucchini into a colander to drain for a few minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.

Packaging

Sure, using gallon-sized Ziploc bags works just fine and makes quick work of filling them. But consider using pint or quart bags instead. It makes freezer space management more tolerable and allows you to thaw only what you’ll need. Pack bags as full as possible and push as much air out as possible before sealing.

Now into the freezer they go until a time when fresh zucchini is not at every turn.

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