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.

21 Comments About this Article

  • Mick Telkamp
    Hi, Rori - You should be able to blanch your spiralized zucchini, but it will take less time in the pot (perhaps 30 seconds to a minute). The goal is to kill those enzymes without cooking the zucchini. Good luck!

    Posted 1 month ago

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  • Sylvia Walker McKoy
    I was hoping I could get out of blanching them. But upon reading about the enzymes, I will be blanching away today. Thanks....love this page!

    Posted 1 month ago

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  • Sylvia Walker McKoy
    If they turn out to be rubbery, then where did I go wrong. I have heard of others saying theirs were rubbery??

    Posted 1 month ago

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  • Mick Telkamp
    Hi, Sylvia. Texture issues are not an uncommon, often a result of freezing zucchini that has been left too long before harvesting. Oversized zucchini becomes bland and has a rubbery texture that seems to be exacerbated by freezing. The mammoths will do fine in zucchini bread, but I tend to skip them when preserving the harvest. If you're facing zucchini overload like many of us this summer, you've probably got plenty of others to choose from!

    Posted 1 month ago

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  • Audrey
    We love to make zucchini bread. How is it possible to freeze with it already grated without the fear of freezer burn?

    Posted 1 month ago

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  • Rori Homme
    Thank you Mick!

    Posted 1 month ago

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  • Brenda w
    Have a bunch of zucchini and yellow squash to freeze but not sure if I should. i hate mushy veg and wondering if that will happen when I am ready to use them. Thanks for the great tips, would not have thought to blanch.

    Posted 4 weeks ago

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  • Darlene Marquart-Hulsey
    Mick - I "grind" up my zucchini when making it for bread...would I just take the ground up portion & blanch it or do I need to blanch it before grinding it up?

    Posted 1 week ago

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  • 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 week 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 days ago

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