Zucchini is nutritious, delicious and easy-to-use in a myriad of ways (hello, zucchini and ricotta galette). For all these reasons and more, we typically haul home more summer squash than we can handle. Fortunately, we have an action plan so not a single squash goes to waste. Here’s how to freeze zucchini so you can indulge in your favorite vegetable fruit all year long. (Fun fact: Zucchini is technically a fruit.)
1. Set up your station
Before you freeze any fruit or vegetable, blanching is a must. Don’t skip this step because if you do, your food will lose its luster (and nutrients) in the freezer. Instead, make the process easy-peasy by setting yourself up for success from the start. Fill a large stockpot with water (about two-thirds full) and add two tablespoons of salt before setting it on the stove over high heat.
While your pot heats up, set up an ice bath nearby so you can cool things down quickly. Blanching involves partial cooking, but the zucchini will continue cooking unless you and a few trays of ice come to their rescue. To prepare the ice bath, fill a large bowl halfway with ice cubes. Add cold water to the bowl until it’s nearly full, and set aside next to the stove or sink.
2. Wash and prep
Rinse zucchini under cold water, making sure to remove any surface grime. When your veggies (er, sorry—fruits) are squeaky clean, cut off and discard both ends and start chopping the zucchini into rounds or cubes. The pieces should be chunky and of roughly equal size so they don’t cook too quickly or inconsistently.
3. Blanch the zucchini
Once the pot of water reaches a rapid boil, the summer squash is ready to roil along with it. Carefully add the cut zucchini into the boiling water using a mesh straining basket or slotted spoon (make sure to stand back to avoid any hot splashes). Start a timer as soon as your rounds make contact with the liquid. Zucchini need to scald for only a few minutes, though exact cooking time depends on how thick you cut them. Bigger slices (about one-inch thick) will need six minutes to finish blanching while thinner slices or cubed pieces will be ready in three minutes.
4. Cool and drain
When the zucchini is done blanching, pull them out of the pot as fast as you can. We recommend straining the whole stockpot into a colander in the sink—it’s more efficient than chasing the pieces around with a slotted spoon, and you don’t have to worry about some zukes staying in hot water longer than others. Once out of the boiling water, be sure the zucchini board an express train to the ice bath you so wisely prepared in advance.
After a couple of minutes, the squash should be cool and the cooking process halted. Send them (back) to the colander to drain; remove excess moisture by patting them dry with a paper towel and tossing gently to reach all sides.
5. Freeze, store and freeze
Nope, that wasn’t a typo: Your zukes are going to have a meet and greet with the freezer before settling into their new home. Now that you’ve blanched and dried your summer squash, they should be bright and vibrant. Spread those beauties out on a sheet pan and pop them in the freezer for one to two hours. As soon as they have frozen solid, remove the sheet pan from the freezer and start packing those succulent pieces of summer away in plastic bags, squeezing out as much air as possible before sealing. Don’t forget to add a date to each bag before tucking it into the icebox. The fruit (of your labor) will last for a full year when stored this way, so bring on the summer galettes.
My Freezer Is Fully Stocked…Now What?
Time to whip up one of these tasty recipes, that’s what.
- Zucchini ricotta galette
- Zucchini and tomato ragu
- Mini Spanish tortilla with zucchini
- Low-carb zucchini enchiladas
- Ina Garten’s baked spinach and zucchini
- Easy zucchini bread
Author: Emma Singer