Mick Telkamp

Mick Telkamp

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.

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.

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.


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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.

29 Comments About this Article

  • Connie Mollison
    I don't blanch the stuff I grind up for zucchini bread. It's always been fine. For those of you wondering...

    Posted 1 month ago

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  • Mick Telkamp
    Hi Darlene. If you are grinding your zucchini for zucchini bread, etc., you can probably skip blanching (texture and color issues not such a big deal). Good luck!

    Posted 3 weeks ago

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  • Kalissa Bach Wilson
    Hi Mick! Do you blanch the zucchini whole? I'm assuming it doesn't matter but if I'm already prepping I was going to prep it entirely if I can. Thanks!

    Posted 3 weeks ago

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  • Vicki Walsh
    Can you freeze zucchini whole and will that keep it from being watery when thawed

    Posted 2 weeks ago

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  • Mick Telkamp
    Hi Kalissa and Vicki - I generally discouraging working with whole zucchini for blanching or freezing. Blanching whole zucchini doesn't effectively knock out the enzymes within without the zucchini actually cooking and zucchini frozen whole usually ends up pretty mushy when thawed. Good luck!

    Posted 2 weeks ago

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  • Vicki Walsh
    Hi again, are you suppose to remove seeds from the zucchini before frying or freezing it, as you can tell I"m not up on this kind thing but love zucchini and is our first year growing it Thanks for all the info

    Posted 1 week ago

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  • BrianandLya Chapman
    Hi! What do you think of baking zucchini chunks, tossed in a bit of olive oil first, and then cooling and freezing that way? I tend to use zucchini for certain dishes that start out that way. Thanks!

    Posted 1 week ago

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  • Peggio K
    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am so grateful for this info as we are at the zucchini overload point here and I know it will be a welcome vegetable come wintertime when I defrost.

    Posted 1 week ago

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  • Vicki Walsh
    Can you safely eat zucchini that has not been blanched before freezing

    Posted 7 days ago

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  • Nicki Ruiz-Call
    Another opinion re: freezing without blanching. I try to read a few of these and make informed decisions based on the sum of the opinions. I will be freezing _without_ blanching my quartered zucchinis this year: http://vwriter.hubpages.com/hub/freezing-vegetables-without-blanching-really

    Posted 4 days ago

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