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Zucchini contains large amounts of water. Freezing causes the water crystals to break down cell walls yielding a watery product when thawed and heated. As a result, frozen and thawed zucchini works best in products that are baked.
Zucchini can be sliced or grated for freezing. If watery when thawed, discard the liquid before using the zucchini. Grated zucchini that is frozen without blanching will continue to experience enzyme changes and will become tough.
Canning and Pickling Zucchini
As a low acid food, plain zucchini would need to be processed in a pressure canner. However, the high temperatures in the pressure canner would cause the watery squash to disintegrate. Because of this, no canning procedures or processing times have been established for processing plain zucchini or other types of summer squash. The National Center for Home Food Preservation does have a research based recipe for canning Tomatoes and Zucchini.
Adding vinegar to zucchini makes it a high acid food suitable for water bath canning as pickles or relishes. The sugar and the vinegar in the recipes help to keep the zucchini firm. Zucchini is frequently an ingredient in end of the garden pickles or chow-chow. It is often difficult to distinguish these products from ones made with cucumbers.
Research tested recipes for zucchini pickles and relishes include Summer Squash Relish and Pickled Bread-and-Butter Zucchini.
Prepared Zucchini Products
Baked zucchini products such as zucchini bread or a chocolate zucchini cake freeze well. Cool the baked product completely before wrapping tightly to freeze. Because the zucchini adds so much moistness to baked products, they freeze solidly and need to thaw before serving.
Dried zucchini and summer squash make nice vegetable chips for dips. However, dried squash absorbs moisture from the air and quickly loses its crisp quality. Therefore, do not remove the dried squash from its storage container until you are ready to serve it.
To dry any type of summer squash:
- Wash trim, and cut in ¼-inch slices before steam blanching 2½ to 3 minutes.
- Cool to 120°F, drain, and place on drying trays.
- It will take 10 to 12 hours to dry slices until they are brittle or crisp.
- Store in an airtight container or in the freezer.