How to Freeze Zucchini
Knowing how to freeze zucchini can be a superbly useful skill to have in the kitchen.
There are countless tasty recipes that you can incorporate zucchini into. You can use it as a stuffing for a casserole or serve up sautéd zucchini as a side dish. Spiralized zucchini can even be eaten as a type of noodle (called “zoodles” by some).
There are two problems, though.
Firstly, although zucchini are typically available year-round, they are best when they’re in-season during the summer. And secondly, fresh zucchini only lasts around one to two weeks in the fridge.
If you want to preserve your zucchini for longer than two weeks, freezing is the way to go. Here’s a guide on how you can do that.
Can You Freeze Zucchini?
Zucchini can be frozen just fine. When done properly, they will retain their color, texture, and taste for up to three months.
One thing that you should know about frozen zucchini is that its nutritional content isn’t the same as when it’s fresh. This nutritional loss is attributable to the blanching process that the zucchini has to undergo before freezing. The heat from the process eliminates a few key nutrients and minerals like Vitamin C from the fruit.
The longer the zucchini spend inside the freezer, the more nutrition is lost from oxidation. So make sure that you consume your frozen zucchini well within three months. If you froze, packaged, and stored them properly, they would still be good for consumption past three months. However, they may not taste as good and certainly won’t be as nutritious.
What Kind of Zucchini to Freeze?
When you plan to freeze anything — be it fruits or veggies — it’s important to select the correct type with the best quality possible.
Take into consideration what you plan to do with the frozen zucchini in the future.
If you plan on freezing them as slices, halves, or want to turn them into zoodles, young zucchini are best.
You can distinguish them from more mature zucchini by their size. They’re around 2 to 3 inches in diameter and about 7 to 9 inches long.
When pressed or squeezed gently, they should feel firm (not solid, you should expect to feel a bit of give in the zucchini’s flesh).
On the other hand, if you’re hoping to make shredded or puréed zucchini, matured zucchini are preferable. Their large size yields more flesh. In return, though, matured zucchini are tougher and have more seeds.
Visually inspect the chosen zucchini for any visible defects, blemishes, or discolorations.
The latter is especially important as it can say a lot about the quality of the zucchini. The skin ought to have a bright, deep green color. Avoid those with a muted, dull skin tone.
If you grow the zucchini yourself in your garden, it is best that you freeze them immediately after harvesting. If possible, you should refrain from freezing zucchini that have spent more than three days off the vine.
How Do You Freeze Zucchini?
There are two popular methods of freezing zucchini: either blanched or unblanched.
If you haven’t heard of blanching before, it involves scalding zucchini in a vat of boiling water. After a couple of minutes, they are fished out and rapidly cooled in an ice-water bath.
Blanching can eliminate natural enzymes found within the fruit. These enzymes are the primary reason why zucchini lose their color and texture over time. Now that these enzymes are removed, the quality of your zucchini can be maintained for longer.
You can also opt to freeze them as they are without blanching.
Unblanched zucchini will lose their color, texture, and nutritiousness quicker. However, if you’re certain that you can use them up quickly (in around three to four weeks), freezing them without blanching will be fine.
Not having to blanch each zucchini is going to be more convenient and less time-consuming, too.
Another way you can freeze zucchini without blanching is by shredding.
Shredded zucchini is way too fragile to be blanched. Besides, shredded zucchini will maintain their quality without being blanched. They last just as long as blanched zucchini when properly stored, too (around three months).
Carefully wash the zucchini to eliminate dirt spots and other residue from the outer skin.
You can choose to blanch the zucchini either peeled or unpeeled. If you want to go the former route, use a vegetable peeler to take off the skin.
At this stage, think of how you want to freeze your zucchini (in slices, halves, large chunks, or diced). Cut up the fruit accordingly.
Next, boil water in a pot large enough for the zucchini to be fully submerged. While the water is boiling, prepare a bowl of ice water for cooling later.
Dip the zucchini into the pot of boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Take them out of the water using a pair of tongs or a netted spoon then immediately dunk into the ice water bowl. Allow the zucchini to cool for 10 minutes.
Once the zucchini are sufficiently cooled down, use a dry towel to wipe as much moisture from the outer skin of the fruit as you can. If there’s excess moisture on the zucchini when they are placed into the freezer, frost can form.
Place the zucchini onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Arrange them so that none of the pieces touch one another. If they do, they can stick together and form frozen zucchini clumps.
Put into the freezer for around 5 to 6 hours until the pieces are frozen solid.
Take them back out and put each individual piece into a resealable plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag by either squeezing it or sucking it out with a straw. The less air there isfr in the bag, the slower oxidation occurs.
Label the bags by name and freezing date before putting them back into the freezer.
Cooked zucchini can be frozen like normal. Since it has already been cooked, there really is no point in blanching or doing any preparation.
Just put the cooked fruits into a resealable plastic bag and squeeze as much air out of the bags as you can. After that, place into the freezer for the standard 4 to 5 hours.
When they are fully frozen, labeled, and placed back into the freezer for storage.
Like we mentioned earlier, if you want to freeze your zucchini unblanched, one of the best ways is to shred them up.
Wash the zucchini with cold tap water while gently rubbing the outer skin to remove dirt and residue.
Cut off each end of the zucchini and slice into large pieces. Assess the center of the zucchini. If there are a lot of seeds, use a large spoon to remove all of them. Some zucchini have a spongy, soft area at the core. This should also be removed.
Next, you can either make use of a box grater or a food processor to shred up the zucchini.
Pour the shreddings into resealable plastic bags. Place into the freezer for around 4 to 5 hours.
Remove from the freezer to give them an overall inspection. If everything is in order, label the bags and place them back into the freezer.
The shreddings will stick together, so don’t worry if it feels like a frozen mass. The block will break up once it is thawed.
As you can see, freezing zucchini is fairly easy and simple. You will be able to get the hang of it after trying it out once or twice.We hope this guide on how to freeze zucchini has served you well.