How to Freeze Zucchini (Two Methods)
I’m not always the person who will tell you the right way to do something or how you’re supposed to cook. The world has professional chefs for that. I’m always interested in learning better methods for my cooking, but I’m not a professional chef, nor am I ever likely to start cooking in a five star restaurant.
What I can tell you is how I make cooking work in an apartment sized kitchen on a fairly strict grocery budget and with chronically low energy. I like shortcuts in my cooking. If you ask my how to freeze something, my instinct is to say “Put it in a ziploc bag and put it in the freezer.”
I frequently google “how to freeze ______” about whatever I have excess of at the moment, but what I really want to find out is “can I get away without blanching this food” or “Please tell me this is one I can just throw in the freezer and it will be fine in a year”.
My google search on zucchini turned up split results, so I’m sharing two methods with you today. I found a lot of people who are freezing grated zucchini for zucchini bread don’t blanch their zucchini, and it works perfectly fine. However the right answer seemed to be blanching the zucchini for better quality. This led me to the conclusion that grated zucchini is fine to just freeze, but sliced zucchini is probably better off blanched.
I use grated zucchini for zucchini bread and sliced zucchini for zucchini casseroles, reminiscent of lasagna, but with zucchini instead of pasta.
Grate zucchini. (If you have a food processor and a lot of zucchini, I recommend the food processor method of grating.)
Label quart sized bags with ‘shredded zucchini’, the date, and any other info you’ll want later, such as how much zucchini is in each bag or the average cost of each bag of zucchini based on your price paid per zucchini.
If you have a specific recipe in mind for the zucchini, measure out the amount for your recipe and put that much into each bag, otherwise just fill the bags 1/2 to 3/4 full depending on preference.
Squeeze out as much air as possible from the bad, then seal.
Boil a gallon or more of water in a large pot. I like to use my stock pot that came with a pasta insert for this sort of thing–the pasta insert makes draining the vegetables a simpler process. My pot is very similar to this, except I got it deeply discounted. This one would be a less expensive but still high quality option. (affiliate links)
Slice zucchini. (Again, if applicable, food processor is very handy here.)
Plunge zucchini into boiling water. If you have a pasta insert or steamer basket, but the zucchini into the insert first, then put the insert into the already boiling water. Otherwise, just dump the zucchini straight into the pot.
Let ‘cook’ (technically, blanch) for 3-5 minutes. You don’t actually want the zucchini to be soft or cooked when you’re done, just hot enough to kill off the enzymes that change the texture of the zucchini over time.
As the zucchini blanches, label quart sized bags (or gallon sized if you plan on making very large quantities of your selected zucchini dish) with ‘sliced zucchini’, the date, and any other info you might want when you pull it out of the freezer.
Remove the zucchini from the heat and plunge it into an ice bath. If you’re using a pasta insert here, you’ll want to carry the whole pot to the sink and remove the insert over the sink. The pasta insert or steamer basket with allow you save your boiling water for a second batch of zucchini, if desired. If you don’t have a pasta insert, just pour out the zucchini into a colander, then plunge the colander into ice water.
OR, if you take shortcuts (as I tend to do), skip the ice water and just run cold tap water over the zucchini until it’s lukewarm. (Just like you would do to stop pasta from cooking.)
Let the zucchini drain for a few minutes.
Put the zucchini into the labeled freezer bags.