In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How to preserve zucchini in the freezer”, and discuss in-depth the correct method to preserve zucchini in the freezer.
How to preserve zucchini in the freezer
Zucchini must be sliced, shredded or made into noodles and then frozen. Sliced zucchini must be blanched before freezing.
Frozen zucchini slices will retain their quality for about 3-4 months. After about 4 months, frozen zucchini slices will start to lose their flavor and texture. Frozen shredded zucchini stays good for about 1 year.
During the freezing process, ice crystals are produced from the extracellular and intracellular water of the food itself, which can break down cell walls and consequently develop losses in the quality of the vegetable. The formation of ice in the damaged cellular structures triggers oxidation reactions that limit storage time due to the degradation of compounds such as vitamins (1).
Frozen zucchini will not retain the crunchiness of fresh zucchini, but they can still be used for soups, pasta, casseroles and even for baking.
- Freezing zucchini cut into small pieces: Zucchini pieces can be used in many dishes such as noodles, soups etc.
- Freezing shredded zucchini: Shredded zucchini can be used in baking. Some bakery products made from shredded zucchini are zucchini bread and zucchini muffins.
- Freezing zucchini noodles: Zucchini noodles, also known as zoodles, are simply zucchini cut into noodles. Zucchini noodles are gluten-free and are a healthy alternative to anyone looking to cut down on carbohydrates and gluten.
How to prepare zucchini for freezing
Choose a young and tender zucchini. The zucchini must be green and firm to the touch.
Always wash and clean the zucchini before cutting. Wash the zucchini in cool, running water and rub to remove any debris. Then dry the zucchini using a paper towel.
Trim off the blossom and stem end of the zucchini. Then slice or shred the remaining part.
It is better to blanch sliced zucchini before freezing. Blanching is the process of immersing a fruit or vegetable in hot water and then in an ice water bath. Blanching deactivates the enzymes that cause changes in color and flavor. Blanching zucchini will also reduce the mushiness when it’s defrosted. However, blanching will not prevent decrease in hardness and adhesiveness or the formation of large ice crystals of the extracellular and intracellular water of the plant, leading to the breakage of its cell walls, which leads to the solubilization and depolymerization of polysaccharides, and consequently affects the hardness of vegetables (1).
How to blanch zucchini slices
- Immerse zucchini slices in boiling water for 1 minute.
- Transfer the zucchini slices into an ice bath for a few minutes. Remove the zucchini slices from the water bath once the slices feel cool to touch.
- Dry the slices using paper towels.
Once zucchini has been blanched, it can be frozen in the method discussed below.
How to preserve zucchini slices by freezing
- Arrange the zucchini slices on a tray lined with parchment paper. Make sure that the slices are not touching each other.
- Place the tray in the freezer for a few hours until all the slices are frozen.
- Transfer the frozen zucchini slices into a ziplock bag.
- Squeeze out the air.
- Label and place it back in the freezer.
How to preserve shredded zucchini by freezing
Shredded zucchini does not have to be blanched before freezing.
- Shred the zucchini with a box grater.
- Use a cheesecloth to wring out the excess moisture. This will prevent the zucchini from becoming mushy when thawed.
- Pack the shredded zucchini into a ziplock bag. You can also portion out the shredded zucchini into the quantities needed for baking. For example, you can pack 1 cup of zucchini into one small ziplock bag. This will enable you to thaw only the amount you need for a recipe.
- Squeeze out the air.
- Label and place it in the freezer.
How to preserve zucchini noodles in the freezer
Making zucchini noodles is a great way to freeze zucchini. Some tips and tricks for making zucchini noodles can be found here.
To freeze zucchini noodles:
- Dry the zucchini noodles with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
- Sprinkle the zucchini noodles with kosher salt. Kosher salt will act as a preservative and extend the shelf-life of zucchini noodles.
- Lightly knead the zucchini noodles. Kneading will produce a white soapy mixture that covers up the noodles.
- Remove moisture for the zucchini noodles by blot drying from a paper towel. Alternatively, wrap a thin, clean cloth around the zucchini noodles and gently twist it to drain out the water.
- Allow the zucchini noodles to air-dry for at least an hour before freezing them.
- Pack the zucchini noodles into a ziplock bag and squeeze out all the air.
- Label and place it in the freezer.
How to thaw frozen zucchini
Frozen shredded zucchini and zucchini slices must be thawed before being used in dishes. Thawing frozen zucchini will release a lot of excess liquid which has to be discarded.
Frozen zucchini can be thawed by placing it overnight in the freezer. You can also microwave the frozen zucchini to thaw it quickly. Make sure to use microwaved zucchini then and there as it cannot be refrozen.
Other FAQs about Zucchini that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “How to preserve zucchini in the freezer”, and discussed in-depth the correct method to preserve zucchini in the freezer.
If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.
- Tejada, Luis, et al. Nutritional and sensorial characteristics of zucchini (Cucurbita pepo L.) as affected by freezing and the culinary treatment. Int J Food Prop, 2020, 23, 1825-1833.
- Paciulli, Maria, et al. Impact of the industrial freezing process on selected vegetables—Part I. Structure, texture and antioxidant capacity. Food Res Int, 2015, 74, 329-337.