Preserve Your Zucchini!


zucchiniWhen fall and winter get here, one of the things I miss is eating freshly-picked zucchini from my garden. We gardeners all know they are far superior to the ones you can buy at grocery stores, which are often rubbery and shriveled up.

While listening to one of Joe Lamp’l’s podcasts recently (Preserving the Harvest with Theresa Loe), I learned of a way to preserve zucchini by freezing it.

Now, I have to admit I tried freezing it years ago and wasn’t all that happy with the results. For one thing, I had placed frozen, grated zucchini into a large freezer bag. When I needed, say, 2 cups of it later, it was a nuisance trying to remove that amount from the huge mass inside the bag.

So when I heard Theresa’s method, I knew I had to give it a try. She grates her zucchini, then places it into muffin tins, and puts the tins into the freezer until the zucchini is frozen solid. Then she takes each muffin-sized mass of frozen zucchini and pops them into a freezer bag.

After grating my zucchinis, I added an extra step to try to reduce the moisture that we all know is in summer squash: I put everything into a large colander, sprinkled a small amount of salt over the gratings, and let the moisture seep out. When I was ready for the next step, I wiped down the gratings with a paper towel to remove even more of the moisture, as well as the salt. (side note: since there might be a teensy bit of salt residue, I plan to omit the salt from any recipes I use the frozen zucchini in)

zucchiniTheresa uses a muffin tin that holds 1 cup in each muffin cup. I don’t have that size of a tin — mine holds 1/2-cup each — but that’s a great size when you consider a lot of zucchini bread recipes call for 1 1/2 cups.

I recently froze my grated zucchini in the muffin tin. The following morning, I was nervous about how difficult it might be to remove those masses of zucchini from each muffin cup. Actually, it was quite easy: I just grabbed a butter knife and popped them out. (I love it when things like that are easy!)

Then I placed my little pre-frozen zucchini “muffins” into a freezer bag and am quite excited to see how future recipes will taste with them. The whole idea of freezing a portion of grated zucchini separately is so you can easily grab the exact amount you need — without first having to potentially thaw out way more than your recipe calls for.

So thank you, Theresa Loe, for sharing such a simple and useful tip with all of us! By the way, her website, Living Homegrown, includes a blog, podcast and plenty of helpful resources on canning and preserving the harvest.