Frozen squash and zucchini are great around the house and a perfect substitute for fresh squash in recipes. This veggie has a mild flavor and can easily blend into any dish, making it a great way to sneak extra vegetables into your diet.
Frozen zucchini also makes great zucchini noodles and is a great way to add vegetables to smoothies. To get the most out of your squash and zucchini, here are some helpful tips to help you prepare them for freezing.
How to Freeze Squash and Zucchini?
Grated Squash and Zucchini
Start by cleaning the zucchini you want to freeze and trimming the blossom end and stem. Though you may certainly grate smaller ones as well, if you have huge, overgrown squash, I suggest grating those monster varieties (or stuffing them!) because they tend to be tougher and preserving your average-sized squash for either enjoying fresh or freezing in sliced chunks.
- Finely shred the zucchini in a cheese grater. Food processors can also be used.
- Next, drain off a portion of the extra liquid to lower the risk of freezer burn and future extremely mushy squash. You can accomplish this in a few different ways.
- To force some of the liquid out and into the bowl, add the shredded zucchini to a fine-mesh strainer positioned over a bowl. Then, press the zucchini down repeatedly with a large spoon or spatula. I typically enter there with clean hands to further squeeze and wring it out. Alternately, you can bundle the shredded zucchini within a lint-free, clean towel or cheesecloth and squeeze the liquid out that way. Some have suggested paper towels, however. However, they crumble apart, stick to the zucchini, and generally create an unpleasant (and wasteful) mess.
The squash should now be placed in freezer-safe containers. I advise freezing zucchini in easily-useable portions, such as 1 or 2 cup increments because it will likely clump together when frozen in this manner. In these reusable BPA-free storage containers, we like to freeze grated zucchini. We frequently use them to freeze soup, chili, sauce, and other things because they come in half-pints (one cup), pints, and quarts. You might also use wide-mouth mason jars, ziplock bags, or vacuum-sealed food saver bags. Please be aware that glass jars need straight edges to freeze safely.
Save your grated zucchini for later enjoyment by freezing it. Below are some more hints for handling and using frozen zucchini.
Squash and Zucchini Chunks
Wash the zucchini or squash first, then clip the ends. The squash should next be chopped into the correct size and shape. I like to cut the zucchini into quarters lengthwise and chop it into small bits to freeze them for soup.
Then, arrange the chopped zucchini pieces on a sizable baking pan or another freezer-friendly dish. As little as possible should they contact or overlap, and keep them in a single layer. After that, freeze the entire tray (or more, if necessary) for at least two hours or overnight. When the zucchini slices are combined in their final storage container, they won’t stick together because they will have frozen separately.
This will enable you to take out a small amount of the frozen zucchini as needed (rather than using the whole stuck-together mass as grated frozen zucchini will require).
Transfer the frozen zucchini pieces into the container of your choice once they are completely frozen. Although you may also use ziplock bags, vacuum sealed bags, Tupperware with a lid, or other freezer-safe containers, we like these reusable silicone food storage bags (like the BPA-free containers I mentioned earlier). Reduce the time it spends at room temperature by transferring it as quickly as possible from the pan into the containers. The frozen squash is more likely to stick together if it begins to “sweat” and defrost.
How to Use Frozen Zucchini?
Frozen zucchini is a welcome addition, and a welcome addition zucchini’s flavor is so subtle that whatever you put it to doesn’t even notice you included it. It works well for adding extra vegetables to meals, including smoothies, except for dishes that call for a firm zucchini texture, such as grilled veggie kabobs or a bowl of fresh zucchini noodles substitute for fresh squash in most recipes.
Before using it in a recipe, frozen zucchini doesn’t need to be thoroughly cooked like raw squash or defrosted. In any case, frozen zucchini softens as it thaws.
I advise adding the frozen squash toward the end of the cooking process for dishes like soups, sauces, chili, and others. So all you have to do is wait until it is fully heated before eating. For more recipes, you could add frozen squash, too; take a look at our no-chicken noodle soup or vegan roasted sugar pie pumpkin 3-bean chili recipes!
You might need to partially defrost frozen zucchini before adding it to bread or other baked items to break up the clump of shredded pieces for simple mixing. You don’t need to strain the squash again because much of the additional moisture was removed before freezing (unless it seems incredibly soggy).
However, it’s preferable to defrost the zucchini to drain off the extra liquid before using it if you’re cooking lasagna, a casserole, a quiche, or another recipe where more moisture won’t be welcome.
Which Part of a Zucchini is the Healthiest?
Antioxidants, which are abundant in zucchini and may offer several health advantages. According to a study, the plant’s epidermis has the highest quantity of antioxidants. The amount in light green zucchinis may be slightly higher than in yellow zucchinis.
The skin of the fruit contains the highest amounts. Although eating raw zucchini is generally safe, there are times when it can be unpleasant. This indicates that it contains a lot of cucurbitacins, which are compounds that could be dangerous. On the other hand, commercial varieties of cucurbitacin poisoning are incredibly unlikely.
Because of its high fiber content, zucchini may also be good for your heart. Observational studies have shown that people consuming more fiber have a lower risk of heart disease. Pectin, a soluble fiber found in zucchini, seems to be particularly helpful in reducing levels of both total and “bad” LDL cholesterol. A review of 67 studies found that consuming as little as 2–10 grams of soluble fiber daily for 1–2 months reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol by 2.2 mg/dl and total cholesterol by 1.7 mg/dl.
Additionally, potassium, which dilates blood arteries and lowers blood pressure, is found in zucchini. Better blood pressure is associated with decreased heart disease and stroke risk.
Zucchini also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Research suggests that these antioxidants can accumulate in your retina, improving vision and reducing your risk of age-related eye diseases. This could include a decreased risk of macular degeneration, the main factor in older adults’ irreversible visual loss. Additionally, diets rich in carotenoids, also found in zucchini, seem to guard against heart disease.
How can You Spot a Bad Zucchini?
Up to 9 pounds of zucchini can be produced by a single Cucurbita pepo (zucchini) plant, a prolific plant. This annual warm-season squash produces long vegetables with edible skin and luscious flesh in as little as 35 days. Although there are numerous varieties of zucchini, some green and others yellow, it is crucial to be aware of the warning signs of subpar squash when carrying zucchini from the garden to the table to ensure food safety.
Zucchini spoils when it has reached the end of its shelf life when improperly stored. Its dull, lifeless skin can easily recognize as rotten zucchini squash. The veggie may feel mushy, and the skin may be wrinkled or withered. If you cut into a decaying zucchini, its interior flesh may be stringy and filled with large seeds. Avoid eating a zucchini if it has rotting patches or other signs of decomposition.
There is a Bad Zucchini in the Garden
Zucchini will rot in the garden if it is not harvested when it is young. When zucchini is not picked right away, its quality starts to deteriorate; if it is left on the plant for too long, it stiffens and loses its flavor.
When zucchini begins to rot on the plant before it is ready to be harvested, it may have been improperly pollinated or experienced blossom-end rot. In areas with high rainfall, incorrect pollination is common since bees and other pollinators are less active in the rain. Uneven watering and excessive fertilizer both contribute to blossom-end rot. The plant won’t be able to absorb calcium if it gets too much nitrogen, which will cause the zucchini to rot on the plant.
Selecting the Best Zucchini
Some zucchini grow longer, but most are ready to be picked, washed, and eaten when they reach 6 to 8 inches. A great zucchini should have flesh that is somewhat yellow, greenish-white, and nearly buttery in texture when cut open. The vegetable should feel strong but delicate, and the skin should be glossy or slippery. Zucchini should have a mild, juicy flavor suitable for grilling, sautéing, and baking, among other culinary techniques.
Cucurbitacins are naturally occurring substances in all plants in the Cucurbita genus, including cucumbers and zucchini. These substances give vegetables their bitter taste. Although there are very small amounts of cucurbitacins in zucchini, the flavor is rather bitter if there are sufficient concentrations. Zoodles with a bitter taste are rare and are brought about by genetic problems in the plants.
Retention and Exceptions
If only a bit of the zucchini is harmed, mushy, or wrinkled, remove it as long as the remaining zucchini retains its vibrant color, firm texture, and delicious flavor. If the zucchini is only slightly overripe but still acceptable, think about cooking it instead of serving it raw. The refrigerator’s crisper drawer is a good place to keep zucchini because it is cool and dry. If properly preserved, fresh zucchini from the garden can be kept for one to two weeks. In contrast to canned or pickled squash, which can keep two years, frozen zucchini can be stored for up to ten months in the freezer.
How Should Squash be Stored to Increase Shelf Life?
In a great, dark place like the pantry, winter squash (produced in the summer but often used in the fall or early winter) stores nicely. Although winter squash can be stored in the refrigerator rapidly, it is not advised because of the flavor and texture change.
As a long-term option, cooked squash freezes admirably for 6 to 8 months (but raw squash does not freeze well).
Learn how to peel butternut squash by following these detailed instructions.
- Practical food storage has several benefits, including healthier eating, lower food costs, and less waste, all of which are good for the environment.
- Cure pumpkins and squash by keeping them in a warm, dry place for approximately a week after harvesting. If there is good air movement, the storage life will be extended. Please maintain them in an area where the humidity is between 70 and 80 percent and the temperature does not go below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Summer squash should be gently cleaned with a wet towel and placed in a perforated plastic bag before being placed in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper (to preserve humidity). A maximum of four days should pass before removing summer squash from the refrigerator.
To maximize the freshness of your zucchini, store it in the fridge. Zucchini stored at room temperature will retain its quality for about 2 to 4 days. At the same time, zucchini stored in the fridge can last up to two weeks. If you cannot refrigerate your zucchini, store it in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. Unfortunately, zucchini degrades quickly without refrigeration. Use it as soon as possible to get the most life out of your zucchini.
Zucchini should be firm and vibrant and weigh less than eight inches. It should have a stem with a moist end and shiny skin. If you plan to freeze it, make sure to slice it thinly. Once you have sliced it, you can pack it in a freezer bag and then use it in recipes as needed. Make sure to wash it thoroughly before storing it. Then, place it in an airtight container or zip-top bag.