Can you freeze zucchini?
Yes you can. But there are a couple of things to consider.
- Zucchini are over 90% water by weight. That means whether you slice them, dice them or shred them, they will get soggy and limp when frozen. Do not expect lovely zucchini slices or shreds that hold their shape when frozen. But that’s okay, frozen zucchini is great in baking, casseroles or mixed into rice, soups, spaghetti sauce, etc.
- The National Center for Home Food Preservation, (NCHFP) the most credible source for preserving produce, recommends blanching zucchini slices (3 minutes) and shredded zucchini (2 minutes) before freezing. Blanching destroys aging enzymes and helps preserve color and flavor for much longer than if you don’t blanch zucchini. Expect unblanched zucchini to be tasty for 3 months, while blanched zucchini will last 6-12 months.
If you’ve read any of my other articles on freezing vegetables you know I’m obsessed with blanching and will do so for all veggies. Zucchini are the one exception. Even though the NCHFP says to blanch, I choose not to blanch shredded zucchini. WHAT?! Yup, I freeze fresh shredded zucchini as is. Crazy right?! But here’s the thing. I use shredded zucchini mostly for baked goods or in soups or dishes where the zucchini is masked by other ingredients. In other words, the flavor and color loss is not noticeable because zucchini is not the star of the show.
Knowing all this, here is how we freeze zucchini.
How to Freeze Zucchini
1.Use fresh, beautiful zucchini to freeze. Remember the quality of frozen food is only as good as the quality of the food you put into the freezer!
That said, you can use larger zucchini just try to keep it under 3 feet!
2. If seeds have started to develop in your zucchini, scoop out the core of the zucchini. Take out the seeds and the spongy center.
3. Shred zucchini using a grater or a food processor. Use the large holes to make large shreds, avoid making tiny shreds as these will turn into a soupy mess once frozen.
4. Drain and squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the zucchini shreds. This will reduce the amount of water when thawing.
Use a straw inserted into a small opening in the zipper of the bag to suck out as much air as possible. And don’t forget to label your bag!
6. Place in freezer and use within 3-6 months. As noted above, if you want it to last even longer, blanch your zucchini.
How to Use Frozen Shredded Zucchini
To Thaw or Not to Thaw
Thaw for baking, don’t thaw for cooking is a good rule of thumb.
If you’re making soup or spaghetti sauce, add frozen zucchini shreds towards the end of the cooking time. They do not need to be cooked for long, just long enough to heat through.
To thaw, simply place in fridge overnight or soak the bag of frozen zucchini in a bowl of warm water. Or, use the microwave on half power so it thaws but doesn’t cook.
To Drain or Not Drain
Sooo, here’s the thing. Most baking recipes that use zucchini rely on some of the moisture in the zucchini. But when zucchini freezes additional moisture builds up in the bag so when you thaw it, there is more moisture than the equivalent amount of fresh zucchini would have. Therefore, yes you should drain thawed, frozen zucchini – but you don’t need to wring it out completely. Hope that makes sense.
1 cup before freezing or 1 cup thawed and drained
This is another tricky one and one I haven’t been able to find a definitive answer to. Frozen zucchini takes up less volume than fresh zucchini. So even though you put 1 cup of fresh zucchini in the bag, it may come out as 3/4 cup or less once thawed. Should you add more frozen zucchini to make 1 cup? What do you you do? I typically do not add more zucchini and just use whatever I pre-measured and froze.
My favorite zucchini baking recipes:
For more ideas check out the 21 Zucchini Recipe Roundup