Summer zucchini is a wonderful thing...sometimes we have too many wonderful things in the garden! Do you have an abundance of this fresh vegetable? I will share with you the best techniques to preserve this gem for use in your fall and winter recipes. If we have learned anything from this pandemic, it is always a good idea to be prepared for anything, right?
For freezing, it is best to pick and freeze smaller zucchini, no bigger than 2" x 8". The bigger they get, the more seeds, less flesh and more water they have.
For soups, stews, casseroles and sauces:
If you are planning to use your abundant zucchini haul in your favorite minestrone soup or tossed in a spaghetti sauce...
First, trim off the ends. Next cube the zucchini in large 1" chunks. Then blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute to remove the enzymes that tend to make the zucchini mushy.
After one minute, remove the cubes with a slotted spoon or spider (the tool not the bug) and place the cubes in a ice water bath to stop the cooking. Place them on paper towels to drain. Blot them with additional paper towels to remove the excess water.
Next, line a large baking sheet (make sure it will fit in your freezer) with a silicone mat (my preference) or parchment paper. Spread the cubes on the baking tray in an even layer. Freeze for about an hour until they are very firm. Remove the tray from the freezer and place the frozen zucchini into freezer Ziploc bags. They will keep for 3 -5 months.
When you are ready to use them, do not thaw! Place them in your recipe frozen and cook with the rest of the ingredients. You will have a better texture!
For bread and muffins:
Most baking recipes call for shredded zucchini. I suggest you shred the zucchini with the skin on using your largest grater or food processor. Place the zucchini in a paper towel lined bowl and let rest 20 minutes. Use a few layers of paper towels please!
Then gather the towels together and squeeze out the liquid into the bowl. Measure the zucchini into 2 cup portions. (you may want to check your favorite recipe and freeze the quantity your recipe calls for!)
I do not blanch shreds! Place the 2 cups of zucchini in a freezer bag and squeeze out all the air. Freeze the bags flat.
When ready to use...remove the shreds from the Ziploc bag and place them in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Let it thaw and squeeze out additional liquid. Proceed with your recipe.