How do I preserve zucchini from my garden? This is a very common question I get from people with zucchini in their garden. So I decided to write a bit on how to store zucchini from the garden.
Fresh zucchini should be used within a few days, but can also be pickled or frozen. As a gardener, you’re probably overwhelmed with zucchini right now. It seems like every time you go out to the garden there is another giant zucchini waiting for you! What do you do with all these zucchini?! Well, here are some great ideas on how to store zucchini from the garden and enjoy it throughout the year! —here’s how to keep zucchini from going mushy before their time.
Keep the zucchini in the fridge. It will keep for a long time. You may then make zucchini pasta, fritters, vegetable meatballs, and more with it. Freezing is the most convenient method, but pickling is considered superior by many chefs because it doesn’t degrade the vegetable’s texture. Pickling changes the flavor of zucchini and gives it a distinctive taste, but not as easy to preserve as Lacto-fermentation. It can be canned or dried instead. Lacto-fermentation preserves zucchini without needing to be frozen and makes it easier to digest.
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Keep it in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped.
The best way to keep zucchini fresh for longer is to make sure it stays as dry as possible. This indicates you should not wash the squash until right before consumption. If you’d like to take it a step further, pat the zucchini down with a paper towel to get rid of any extra moisture. Then place it in a ventilated plastic bag (you may either make holes in a sealed bag or leave the top open), and put it in the crisper drawer.
If you buy your summer squash at the store instead of growing it yourself, chances are that they’ve been treated with a wax coating to protect them. Unfortunately, this makes the natural waxy moisture on the skin even more difficult to remove—and can lead to rot being trapped inside after refrigeration.
Be sure to always peel off (or scrub off) the waxy coating before storing it in your crisper.
Store in a breathable container (not plastic!)
The second most important step is to make sure you use a breathable storage device so that the resulting ethylene gas released by ripening vegetables can escape. If left enclosed in airtight containers, there’s no way for the gas to escape, and rot is inevitable. If you’re wondering what kinds of storage containers are safe for food, use a glass or steel container that has been washed with soap and water, then dried thoroughly.
Paper bags, paper towels, aluminum foil, or plastic wrap CANNOT be used as breathable storage devices! If you want to get a jump on things and prep your Zucchini for storage, make sure you remove the ends of the squash (which are prime spots for rot) and cut them into chip-sized slices. Then, sprinkle them with salt to draw out some of the moisture—this will help prevent any mold growth!
Prepare in advance and store in single-serving sizes
Zucchini and summer squash (and other vegetables, for that matter) continue to release ethylene gas after harvesting. To prevent mold or rot from growing on your vegetable stash, you can prepare it ahead of time and store it in small batches for every use. This way, the amount of ethylene released by the vegetables is limited to the number of vegetables you take out at a time—instead of one massive batch all at once!
Use frozen zucchini and summer squash
If you want to extend your garden harvest as long as possible, consider freezing whole zucchinis or summer squash after preparing and cutting them. This way, you can store them for up to a year, and pull out only the amount you need each time. Here are some easy instructions for freezing your summer squash.
If you have too much zucchini to manage before it goes bad, give some away or donate it! Remember that kids in need would be grateful for fresh vegetables—so why not leave them on a stoop or in a community garden, with a quick note explaining that they’re free for the taking? Make sure you mention that you’ve inspected them and they’re not too dirty to eat, though—you want to avoid any liability issues.
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Zucchini and other summer squash varieties are extremely versatile vegetables that can be adapted to just about any dish—from chips to muffins. If you have a lot on your hands, consider pickling some of it. Since fermentation breaks down the natural sugars in zucchini, this process gives the vegetable a sweet-and-sour taste that goes very well with sandwiches and salads!
If you’re looking for a holistic way to store your garden goods, consider using the ancient practice of Lacto-fermentation. It’s easy and doesn’t even require any fancy equipment—just some basic ingredients and a bit of planning.
Blanching and Storing Zucchini In the freezer
You may freeze zucchini in its entirety or cut it into inch-long pieces for a more convenient method of preparation. Freezing zucchini degrades its texture, so it won’t hold well for dishes that require fresh or grilled squash (such as ratatouille). Instead, utilize frozen zucchini in sauces, soups, or stews, and baked goods (like this easy zucchini bread). If you don’t intend to utilize it within the next few days, you should freeze it.
How to Prepare Zucchini for Freezing
To blanch and store in freezer: Chop into 1-inch pieces, blanch in boiling water for one minute, plunge into ice water. Dry thoroughly and freeze in airtight containers or freezer bags. Cut into 1-inch pieces, blanch in boiling water for one minute, and plunge into ice water. Dry thoroughly and freeze in airtight containers or freezer bags. Blanched/prepped zucchini can be frozen for up to 6 months.
Blanching in boiling water keeps the zucchini’s texture firm when it is frozen. Drying thoroughly ensures there is no moisture in the zucchini when it comes out of the freezer. Finally, storing in an airtight container or freezer bag keeps the zucchini fresh.
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Remember to follow the steps below:
- Wash the zucchini, then remove the ends and cut into 1-inch slices or spears
- Remove the skin and cut it into slices
- Blanch in a large pot for anywhere from 5-10 minutes
- Layer it in a freezer bag or airtight container, then store in the freezer
- No matter which method you choose, take out what you need when it’s time to cook!
- For use as chips, thaw and dry with paper towels before baking at 250°
You can easily freeze or dehydrate your excess zucchini and use it in soups, breads, muffins and more during those cold winter months when fresh produce isn’t available. There are even recipes for pickling your extra veggies! So don’t let that huge pile of summer squash go to waste – check out these tips today!