In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how to preserve zucchini noodles” and discuss the different methods of preserving zucchini noodles.
How to preserve zucchini noodles
Globally, a 1% increase in per capita income in developing countries is associated with a 0.5% increase in per capita vegetable availability. It follows that the bulk of the global supply of fruit and vegetables (77% of total value) is produced in populous middle-income countries. China accounts for 45% of the global value of vegetable production and 24% of fruit production (1).
Zucchini noodles are preserved by:
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 (2).
How to prepare zucchini noodles for preservation
Zucchini noodles can be either store-bought or made at home. All it takes to make zucchini noodles are zucchinis and a spiralizer, peeler or mandolin.
Always select small zucchinis to make zucchini noodles. Zucchinis do not have to be peeled as the green skin will add a colorful tone to the zucchini noodles.
To make zucchini noodles:
- Wash the zucchinis and dry using a paper towel.
- Use a spiralizer, vegetable peeler or mandolin to cut the zucchini into the desired shape and thickness.
- Dry the zucchini noodles with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
- Eat or cook the zucchini noodles immediately or preserve them in one of the methods discussed below.
Preserving zucchini noodles by refrigerating
Zucchini is a highly perishable vegetable that deteriorates rapidly after slicing. Due to firmness loss, browning and decay, its shelf life is limited to 1–2 days. In fact, pre-cutting induces excessive hydrolases activity resulting in softening and the enhanced respiration causes overall acceleration of senescence (3). Refrigerating will keep zucchini noodles fresh for about 4 days. If you want to preserve zucchini noodles for a longer time, consider freezing or dehydrating.
To refrigerate zucchini noodles:
- Place the noodles in a ziplock bag and squeeze out all the air.
- Label and place it in the refrigerator.
- Make sure not to place any heavy items on top of the zucchini noodles as they are delicate and may break apart.
A study showed that cut zucchini could be better preserved when packed in oriented polypropylene-based bags under refrigeration, where the overall acceptability was kept for about 4 days (3).
Preserving zucchini noodles by freezing
For vegetables, freezing is widely recognised as the most satisfactory method for long-term preservation, and it is an important segment of the frozen food market. Raw vegetables contain large quantities of water in proportion to their weight and, consequently, the water phase change occurring in freezing makes these products more susceptible to ice crystal formation and thawing than other types of food. Consequently, nutrient losses occur due to preparing, freezing and thawing of vegetables, as well as significant changes in their texture. Blanching is a thermal treatment, commonly applied to a variety of vegetables, with different objectives, the most important being to preserve and stabilize the products through enzyme inactivation (6).
Freezing preserves zucchini noodles for about 1 year (4). However, freezing affects the flavour and texture of zucchini noodles, so it is best to use them within 3-5 months (5).
Frozen zucchini noodles do not need to be thawed or defrosted. Simply add them to a dish or eat them cold with a topping of your choice.
To freeze zucchini noodles:
- 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. Kneading will also firm up the zucchini noodles. It is recommended to knead the zucchini noodles for about 5 minutes.
- 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. Zucchini has a high content of water so drying them will prevent them from becoming soggy when frozen.
- Pack the zucchini noodles into a ziplock bag and squeeze out all the air.
- Label and place it in the freezer.
Preserving zucchini noodles by dehydrating
Dehydrated zucchini noodles can be stored for about 1 year.
Dehydrated zucchini noodles can be straightaway added to most dishes without being rehydrated. If you need to cook them pasta style or stir-fry, they can be rehydrated by soaking in a small amount of water.
To dehydrate zucchini noodles (7):
- Blot out the excess moisture from zucchini noodles by using paper towels or wrap the zucchini noodles in a thin cloth and twist gently.
- Place the zucchini noodles as little nests on the dehydrator tray. This will make them easier to store and save up more storage space.
- Dehydrate at 135 degrees F until the zucchini noodles are completely dry.
- Break one noodle to check if there is any remaining moisture. If there is no moisture left, you can now store the zucchini noodles.
- Transfer the zucchini noodles into an airtight container. Add a desiccant pack into the container to absorb the moisture from the air and to prevent the zucchini noodles from rehydrating.
- Label and store the zucchini noodles in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
How to cook preserved zucchini noodles
The main purpose of drying is to decrease water activity of the food to extend its shelf life. In addition, drying minimizes packaging, storage and transportation costs by substantially reducing the weight of the product. Open sun-drying is the traditional dehydration method. However, issues related to hygiene, very long drying time and low final product quality has led researchers to investigate different types of drying methods such as solar cabinet dryers, tray dryers, fluidized bed dryers and vacuum freeze dryers (8).
Zucchini noodles are cooked very differently from wheat-based noodles. Zucchini is 95℅ water so cooking the noodles would make them soggy and mushy.
Zucchini noodles are best eaten raw with vegetables and sauce, microwaved or stir-fried. If you are planning to boil them, make sure to add the noodles after boiling the water and turning off the stove.
Both refrigerated and frozen zucchini noodles can be eaten straight out of the fridge while dehydrated zucchini noodles can be added straight to a dish of your choice.
Other FAQs about noodles that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “how to preserve zucchini noodles” and discussed the different methods used to preserve zucchini noodles. We also looked at how to cook preserved zucchini noodles.
If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.
- Schreinemachers, Pepijn, Emmy B. Simmons, and Marco CS Wopereis. Tapping the economic and nutritional power of vegetables. Global food secur, 2018, 16, 36-45.
- Smith, J. Get in-spiralized by zoodles. University of Illinois.
- Lucera, Annalisa, et al. Influence of different packaging systems on fresh-cut zucchini (Cucurbita pepo). Inn Food Sci Emerg Technol, 2010, 11, 361-368.
- Home Food Storage. University of Nebraska Lincoln.
- 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.
- Silva, Cristina LM, Elsa M. Gonçalves, and Teresa RS Brandao. Freezing of fruits and vegetables. Frozen food science and technology. 2008, 165.
- Holmes, E. Making Dehydrated Cucumber and Zucchini Chips. 2021. University of Maine.
- Kutlu, Naciye, and Asli Isci. Drying characteristics of zucchini and empirical modeling of its drying process. Int J Food Stud, 2017, 6.