Anyone who has nurtured a zucchini plant recognizes the feeling of being suddenly overwhelmed by an abundance of fleshy green fruit; even a single plant can feed an entire family and several neighbors!
Most gardeners joke that the biggest problem with zucchini is figuring out where to put it all. If you find yourself in this enviable position, consider freezing the excess produce.
While fresh zucchini lasts just a few weeks, the same vegetable lasts up to a year in the freezer if properly prepared, and it can be incorporated into various recipes in every season! Take a look below to find out how to freeze zucchini and use it anytime.
Should You Freeze Zucchini?
Is it worth it?
Freezing is a technique that allows you to take advantage of summer’s abundance all year long. With a stash of zucchini in the freezer, a slice of moist zucchini bread, healthy green smoothies, or quick vegetable stews are never more than minutes away.
Zucchini is 95% water, so freezing causes many of its cells to rupture, softening its texture. However, if you use the frozen zucchini in cooked dishes, like casseroles and stews, the resulting texture will not be considerably different from cooked fresh zucchini.
How to Freeze Zucchini
- 1Before you begin, make sure the zucchini is clean, and you have removed all the dirt and debris from the garden. Next, chop off the very top and bottom of the zucchini since these parts can be tough and bitter.
- 2Zucchini freezes well whether it is grated, sliced, spiraled, or chopped; think of how you plan to use the zucchini and choose the method that most closely matches recipes where you are likely to use it. Keep in mind that smaller pieces may be preferable overall because they thaw and cook more quickly.
- 3To keep the zucchini pieces in top condition while they languish in your freezer, blanch the zucchini before freezing. Blanching will inactivate the enzymes that cause it to become discolored and mushy; this step extends the shelf life of your zucchini in the freezer from about three months to a full year! However, keep the blanching step brief since cooking for too long can also induce softening and discoloration.
- 4A quick one-minute dunk in unsalted boiling water is all you need to preserve your zucchini’s color and texture while it is in the freezer. After one minute, use a slotted spoon to transfer the zucchini to an ice water bath. Blot it dry with a paper towel before spreading it on a parchment-lined baking sheet to freeze.
- 5Note that it is very difficult to blanch grated or shredded zucchini; for this reason, most people choose to freeze it fresh (without blanching). As such, it has a shorter shelf life in the freezer, and you should use it within three months. After three months, it will begin to develop signs of freezer burn and discoloration.
- 6When the zucchini has frozen solid, transfer the pieces, slices, or spirals to sealed, portion-sized bags labeled with the date. A date label ensures that you will use the zucchini within one year while still fresh and top quality.
How to Thaw Zucchini
- It is usually unnecessary to thaw frozen zucchini before adding it to recipes; its high water content means that it will incorporate easily into a dish.
- One exception to this rule is if you plan to use grated zucchini in cookies or quickbreads. In this case, thaw the grated zucchini overnight in the refrigerator, then drain it, squeeze it, or blot it with a towel before adding it to your recipe. It will leach quite a bit of moisture; this is normal, and you should allow any excess water it releases to drain away before using the zucchini in baking.
Uses for Frozen Zucchini
Frozen zucchini softens upon thawing due to its high water content, so you should not plan to use it when you require crisp pieces of fresh vegetable (such as a salad or stir-fry).
Still, it is convenient for tossing directly into stews, soups, smoothies, or any other recipe where it will become cooked or blended. Grated frozen zucchini, in particular, makes a quick and easy zucchini bread; simply drain the thawed grated pieces and add the appropriate amount to your recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can you freeze zucchini bread?
If you double-wrap zucchini bread in plastic wrap, then add a final layer of foil or a plastic bag, your zucchini bread should last up to three months in the freezer. When you thaw the zucchini bread to enjoy it, make sure to leave it wrapped until it has fully thawed!
How long can you freeze shredded zucchini?
Shredded zucchini can last up to three months in the freezer because it is usually frozen without the benefit of a blanching step. Just make sure your zucchini is clean, then grate or shred the zucchini before freezing it in date-labeled portion-sized bags. Take a look at the suggestions above to learn how to thaw it for baking.
For many of us overachieving gardeners, freezing zucchini is the way to go. If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to leave a note below!