Mick Telkamp

Mick Telkamp

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Zucchini Well Suited to Growing in Containers
Surplus zucchini crops lend themselves well to freezing.

For the home gardener, zucchini is often a first round pick when planning the summer garden. With good reason. Easy to grow and with a long growing season, zucchini is an easy home run when looking to fill the gathering basket.

And fill it you will. Harvest begins in early summer and does not let up until summer is over. Depending on your growing zone, that can mean a whole lot of zucchini.


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Zucchini bread, sauteed zucchini, grilled zucchini, zucchini muffins, marinated zucchini salad, zucchini pancakes, zucchini fries, zucchini lasagna, zucchini frittata, zucchini pizza, zucchini quiche, zucchini in zucchini sauce, zucchini stuffed zucchini, zucchini zucchini…

Did I black out there? Needless to say, it is a prolific vegetable.

By mid-summer, the ideas have run out. Bags of zucchini begin to appear in the office break room or are left on your front porch as other intrepid gardeners also face zucchini burnout, desperate to clear the counter before the only choice is the compost pile.

Sure, you’re sick of them too. But take them all. Every last one. Don’t worry. We have a plan.

Believe it or not, there will come a day when a zucchini muffin is going to sound pretty good. Added to a hearty winter soup, that zucchini heft and flavor might be just the ticket. And we’ll be ready.

Zucchini (and summer squash, for that matter) freezes well. With a little preparation up front, zucchini and squash can become a welcome “go to” for fall and winter cooking.

Preparing to Freeze

Consider how you will use your zucchini or squash. Do you love it sliced into a stir fry? Chopped and steamed? Grated for baking? Sliced, chopped or grated, it all freezes the same and come winter you will appreciate being able to thaw and dump without having to fool with it a second time.

Once your vegetables are prepared, we have one more stop before hitting the big freeze.


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Blanching

Like all vegetables, zucchini has enzymes within that will soften, discolor and deplete nutrients in the produce over time, even when frozen. Blanching — a quick bath in boiling water — will destroy the enzymes and any bacteria that may be lurking.

Bring some unsalted water to boil in a pot deep enough to completely submerge manageable batches. I use my colander to determine batch size, as the processed zucchini will go back in there once blanched and cooled.

Once a rolling boil is reached, drop the zucchini into the pot for 3 to 4 minutes. When it comes out, the zucchini should still be firm.

Transfer into a very large bowl or pot of ice water using a slotted spoon to suspend cooking.

Move the zucchini into a colander to drain for a few minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.

Packaging

Sure, using gallon-sized Ziploc bags works just fine and makes quick work of filling them. But consider using pint or quart bags instead. It makes freezer space management more tolerable and allows you to thaw only what you’ll need. Pack bags as full as possible and push as much air out as possible before sealing.

Now into the freezer they go until a time when fresh zucchini is not at every turn.

Winter you says thanks.

10 Comments About this Article

  • Katherine
    Do I blanch whole or cut up. Can I shredd before freezing after blanching whole. Thanks.

    Posted 10 months ago

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  • Donna Cohen
    Great question - May we do this, as shredded are usually soggy and not appetizing for breads?

    Posted 10 months ago

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  • JoMary
    I have always pureed and frozen zucchini in the amounts necessary for our favorite bread and muffin recipes. This works great and is available all year, especially at holiday time, when it is very expensive in the stores.

    Posted 9 months ago

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  • Karinna Figueredo
    If I purée it in a blender, do I still need to blanch it prior to putting it in the blender and if so, I'm assuming I would cut it up into manageable pieces before dropping in the boiling water to blanch right?

    Posted 9 months ago

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  • JoMary
    No, I don't blanch or peel the skin off. I do cut it up in small pieces. My food processor works better than my blender when grinding it for puree.

    Posted 9 months ago

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  • Mick Telkamp
    Cutting in to pieces to blanch is always a bit easier, but be sure not to go much past that 3 minute mark or you'll risk overcooking. If you plan to puree, blanching zucchini first will cut down on some discoloration over time, but if you're going to use it in baked goods, for example, you may not care about that and you can get away with freezing without blanching.

    Posted 9 months ago

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  • Mick Telkamp
    It's worth mentioning too that if you expect to use use frozen zucchini within a few months, you can consider skipping blanching altogether. It takes about 4-6 months for the impact of those pesky enzymes to reach a point where it is especially noticeable. Blanching is always the safe play, but admittedly, it's a bit of a hassle.

    Posted 9 months ago

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  • Tiffany M
    Can I take the extra large zucchinis and freeze them too? I'm on a special diet that cuts out wheat and gluten and I love stuffing the extra large zucchini which will soon vanish when the weather changes. Would I cut them in half and scoop out the insides or is it just best to cut up the zucchini?

    Posted 8 months ago

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  • Mick Telkamp
    Hi, Tiffany. You can freeze your oversized zucchini without chopping. Your instinct to slice lengthwise and scoop out the seeds is a good one (large seeds will become brittle when frozen). Zucchini is a great choice when managing a gluten-free diet. Good luck!

    Posted 8 months ago

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  • Donna Gould Carsten
    My frozen sliced zucchini from last year (blanched as it should have been) was very rubbery when we ate it. What did I do wrong?

    Posted 8 months ago

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