Zucchini doesn’t get the credit it deserves. This underrated vegetable is incredibly versatile. It can be used as a healthy pasta alternative, baked into muffins, zucchini bread, pancakes, pizza, and quiche.
From zucchini fries to zucchini salad, this is a great vegetable to have on hand at any time.
Being a moisture-rich vegetable, zucchini does not have a long shelf life, and once cut, it starts to spoil quickly. Despite being sensitive to changes in temperature, zucchini can be frozen, however, certain steps will need to be followed to avoid it from turning into mush once thawed.
Here is a full guide to successfully freezing zucchini.
Types of Zucchini
Zucchini is a type of summer squash also commonly called courgette, marrow, or baby marrow. The long green vegetable is harvested when immature at about 15 to 25 cm long, although it can grow longer. The thin skin is edible and generally left on when cooked.
On cooking, zucchini softens significantly. Zucchini can be baked, stuffed, fried, steamed, boiled, sauteed, crumbed, and even turned into spiralized noodles.
Can Zucchini Be Frozen?
Yes, zucchini can be frozen, however, it is not as simple as just chopping it and placing it in the freezer. Raw zucchini contains a lot of moisture. Zucchini that has not been properly treated before freezing will become soggy once thawed.
There are 2 ways to pre-treat zucchini for freezing.
- The salt-rub preparation method aims to get rid of as much moisture as possible prior to freezing. This is used when freezing zucchini noodles to ensure that the thawed zoodles hold their shape and texture, with loads of flavor.
- Blanching kills the active enzymes in the vegetable which causes gradual loss of flavor, texture, and color. This method is best used for freezing chopped and sliced zucchini. This will prolong the shelf life of the zucchini especially if you are planning to freeze it for longer than 2 or 3 months.
Follow the steps below for the best result when freezing zucchini and shredded zucchini noodles
How To Freeze Zucchini
Step 1: Clean and Cut
Before you even start the freezing preparation process, make sure you choose zucchini that is fresh, firm, and has no blemishes or soft spots. Wash the zucchini and cut off the ends. Spiralize, peel, or slice the zucchini into the desired shape and size.
Use the preparation method below depending on how you have cut the zucchini
Method 1: Blanching Sliced or Chopped Zucchini
Step 2: Blanch
Bring a pot of unsalted water to a boil on the stovetop. Place the chopped zucchini in the pot while the water is boiling for 2 to 4 minutes depending on the size of the slices.
Step 3: Cool and Dry
Immediately remove the slices and place them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. The zucchini should still have a firm texture and not be cooked through.
Once the zucchini is completely cool, place it on a clean, dry dishtowel and pat it dry to remove any excess moisture.
Step 4: Flash Freeze
To prevent the zucchini pieces from sticking together on freezing, spread them out on a lined baking sheet in a single layer. Place the baking sheet in the freezer just until the pieces are frozen.
Once frozen, remove the tray from the freezer and move onto Step 5 below, working quickly so that the zucchini does not start to defrost.
Method 2: Zucchini Noodle Salt-rub
Step 2: Salt
Place the shredded zucchini in a bowl. Using one tablespoon of salt for every 2 cups of zucchini, sprinkle the salt over the zucchini in the mixing bowl and gently mix the salt through the entire batch making sure that everything is well coated. Add a little more salt if necessary.
Step 3: Drain
As you lightly rub the salt throughout the spiralized zucchini, moisture will be released and bubbles will appear. Once you are certain the salt is fully mixed throughout the entire batch, place the zucchini in a colander lined with a clean, thin cloth.
Let the colander sit for an hour over the sink to allow all the moisture to drain.
Step 4: Dry
Wrap the edges of the cloth to cover the full batch of zucchini and squeeze tightly to force any remaining moisture out of the zucchini.
If the cloth is too wet, use a fresh cloth as you want to ensure all the moisture is removed and stops dripping from the cloth entirely. Let the zucchini sit to dry for a while on the cloth.
Step 5: Portion and Pack
Regardless of whether you have prepared slices or noodles, divide the zucchini into the portion sizes you may want to defrost at any given time. Pack each portion into a separate resealable freezer bag.
Doing this allows you to only defrost a single portion at a time without having to thaw an entire large batch and not being able to use it all. Smaller portions also allow for better preservation of the texture during freezing.
Step 6: Seal
Lie the bag flat on the counter and press out any air as you seal it.
Step 7: Label and Freeze
Label the bag with the date of freezing to keep track of the freezer storage time and place it in the freezer.
How To Thaw Frozen Zucchini
Zucchini does not need to be thawed when used in cooked dishes such as soups, stews, and stir-fry. Remove it straight from the freezer and boil it on the stovetop or add to a pan or wok to pan-fry.
When baking with zucchini, it is best to thaw it first to prevent the liquid that is released on thawing from changing the consistency of the batter. Put the bag of frozen zucchini in a bowl to catch the water while thawing. Place it in the refrigerator for a few hours to defrost.
Alternatively, place the bag in a bowl of water to defrost it quickly. Drain and lightly squeeze out excess liquid from the defrosted zucchini before adding it to your batter.
Zucchini noodles are a delicious good-for-you pasta substitute. Not only can they be used in place of spaghetti or lasagna, but they make for a great addition to Pad Thai, pho, and stir-fry. Zucchini can also be used in cold salads tossed with a dressing or as a side vegetable dish.
Regardless of whether you are planning to use your zucchini as noodles, for baking, or adding to a stew, freezing is the most effective way to prolong the vegetable’s short shelf life.
The best part is that zucchini does not need to be thawed before cooking, so you can literally pull your zucchini out of the freezer and place it on the stovetop for cooking for a quick-fix, healthy, and delicious meal! Eating healthy has never been so convenient.
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