How to Freeze Zucchini and Other Summer Squash
When you have more zucchini than you know what to do with it, freeze the extra! Just chop and blanch first. You'll be happy to have a taste of summer later in the year!
An abundance of zucchini is not an uncommon problem during the summer produce season. We wait for it all year long and then suddenly there is so much available, we’re searching for any recipe we can find to use it all up!
When you have more zucchini than you know what to do with it, freeze the excess. Here's what to know.
Can I Freeze Uncooked Zucchini or Do I Need to Blanch It?
It’s always best to blanch vegetables before you freeze them. This may feel like an inconvenient step adding more work to your plate, but quality is greatly improved when you blanch first.
Blanching destroys enzymes that can break down vegetables, make them mushy, and make them taste unappealing once you get around to using them. When used in recipes, your zucchini will be much more enjoyable if you put in the work to blanch it before freezing it.
Chop Your Zucchini Before Freezing!
Zucchini is best frozen once it’s been chopped. Trim the ends, cut the zucchini lengthwise, then each half again lengthwise so you have four long zucchini quarters. Next chop it into medium-sized zucchini chunks.
How Long It'll Last
Zucchini will keep in your freezer for up to 3 months.
If you follow the steps of blanching the vegetables, pre-freezing the pieces, and storing them in freezer-safe packaging such as a zip-top bag, shown below, your zucchini should maintain flavor and as much texture as possible for this amount of time.
Does Frozen Zucchini Need to Thawed Before Using?
For most uses, there is no need to thaw your zucchini before you use it. Similar to how you might add a bag of stir-fry vegetables from the freezer straight to the skillet or soup pot, your zucchini can be cooked in the same way. It also works well when stirred into casserole fillings while still frozen. Just extend your baking time if necessary to account for the temperature of the pan due to the frozen zucchini.
However: If you plan to bake with the zucchini by stirring the pieces into a bread or muffin batter, then yes, it’s best to thaw and drain the zucchini first so you won’t add unwanted moisture to the recipe. It’s also a good idea to thaw before using zucchini as a filling in a quick-cooking recipe, like this quesadilla pie.
How to Use Frozen Zucchini
Blanching your zucchini helps it to maintain its texture when freezing, but it will still be less firm than chopped fresh zucchini. Despite this, it can be used in just about anything that uses fresh zucchini: stir it into vegetable soups or puree into a cream soup or a tomato sauce. It makes a terrific veggie-packed enchilada or burrito filling, or swap it for the green beans in a green bean casserole.
Substitute frozen zucchini in these recipes:
- Sweet Corn and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
- Summer Squash Green Chile Stir Fry
- Weeknight Pasta with Zucchini Eggplant and Peppers
- Dad’s Ratatouille
- Spicy Zucchini Soup
How to Freeze Zucchini: Instructions
- Chop the zucchini. Trim the ends of each zucchini. Cut in half lengthwise. Then cut each piece in half lengthwise again so you have four long quarters of zucchini. Position each piece next to each other, then cut across the strips to create 1/2-to-1-inch chunks of zucchini.
- Blanch the zucchini. Fill a large stock pot 3/4 full with water. As a general rule, use about one gallon of water for each pound of vegetables. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. While it comes to a boil, fill a large bowl with ice and water. It should be large enough to hold all of your chopped zucchini with ice and water. If your pots and bowl aren’t big enough, just work in batches to blanch your zucchini. Use a slotted spoon to carefully add the zucchini to the boiling water. Boil for 1 to 3 minutes.
- Remove from pot and place in cold water. You don’t want the zucchini to appear mushy, but it needs to cook long enough to destroy the enzymes. After 1 to 3 minutes, remove the zucchini from the boiling water with a slotted spoon or spider spatula and place the pieces in the ice water for the same amount of time that you boiled it.
- Pre-freeze the zucchini pieces. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the zucchini out on the baking sheet in a single layer. Pat dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel. Freeze for one hour or until firm.
- Freeze the zucchini. Transfer the frozen pieces to a freezer-safe zip-top bag, filling the bags to allow a one-inch headspace at the top once the bags are sealed. Label with the date and freeze for up to 3 months.