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How to freeze zucchini

Make squash season last forever with these easy tips.

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Sliced fresh zucchini courgette vegetables with green and yellow skins in a frying pan.

Photo by: Mint Images / Getty Images

Mint Images / Getty Images

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By Regan Cafiso for Food Network Kitchen

Zucchini is a great vegetable to keep on hand. But when it comes into season — especially if you have a garden — you can end up with too much of a good thing. While zucchini is versatile and delicious, it can be a challenge to find enough uses for this bountiful squash before it starts to go bad. Luckily you can preserve your extra zucchini (or any other summer squash) by freezing it.

Here are our tips on how to freeze zucchini.

Don’t Freeze Raw Zucchini

While freezing zucchini is a great way to extend its life, it’s not as simple as just popping a few squash into your freezer. Raw zucchini gets weepy and watery after thawing. To effectively save it, you should chop and blanch it first. This helps set the texture and color and makes it last longer.

How to Chop Zucchini for Freezing

Our favorite way to freeze zucchini that thaws well is to cut it crosswise into thick slices — at least 1/2-inch thick — which allows the skin around each slice to stay intact, helping protect its shape during blanching and freezing.

How to Blanch Zucchini

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a rapid boil. This is one of the few times you should NOT add salt to your blanching water. Salt draws out moisture and can make the zucchini mushy. While the water comes to a boil, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and cold water. Also grab a colander and a slotted spoon and line a baking sheet or plate with a thick layer of paper towels.

When the water boils, drop in the zucchini rounds, working in batches if you have a lot. Let the water return to a boil and cook until until they are bright green and still firm, 1 to 3 minutes. Don’t overcook.

Immediately transfer the zucchini to the ice bath using a slotted spoon. Gently stir the ice water to cool the vegetables, then drain well. Lay the zucchini in a single layer on the lined baking sheet and blot with more paper towels to dry well.

How to Store Frozen Zucchini

When your blanched zucchini is cool and dry, put the slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until completely solid, about 2 to 4 hours. When the vegetables are frozen, transfer them to resealable freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as possible and seal tightly. Label the bags and stash in the freezer for up to 6 months.

How to Freeze Zucchini in a Recipe

Another great way to extend the life of your zucchini is to make a freezeable recipe that uses it. Zucchini helps keep dishes moist, so many recipes that include it, like muffins, quick breads and soups, are perfect for freezing.

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How to Freeze Zucchini Whether grated, diced or sliced into rounds, freezing zucchini is easy and enables you to enjoy that fresh summer produce all year round! We’ll show you how to blanch zucchini and prepare it for freezing so that it lasts longer and retains its nutrition, texture and flavor!

How to freeze zucchini

What do you do with all that zucchini before it goes bad?? Every year I hear that question asked by people seeking advice on how to use up their bumper crop of zucchini. And you can only make so much zucchini bread, right? The answer: Freeze it!

Zucchini is a delicious, nutritious and versatile vegetable. I grow loads of it every year in my garden to enjoy throughout the summer and then I freeze a bunch of it to last our family through the winter. Whether you found a great deal on zucchini at the store or farmer’s market, were gifted a bunch by a gardening friend, or have a bumper crop of your own, freezing zucchini is a great way to preserve this vegetable that otherwise only has a short shelf life in the fridge.

Can You Freeze Zucchini Raw?

You can but you shouldn’t. It will negatively impact color, texture, flavor and length of storage time. To prevent all of that zucchini needs to be blanched first before freezing it.

Do You Have to Blanch Zucchini Before Freezing?

Blanching is an important step when it comes to freezing most vegetables for several reasons: Blanching stops enzymes that lead to spoilage and cause the veggies to become mushy. It also enables the vegetables to retain their vibrant colors, their texture, and their nutrients. If you skip blanching and freeze zucchini raw they will develop dull, faded colors, off flavors and poor textures. So however tempting it might be don’t skip this step!

How Long Can You Freeze Zucchini?

Fresh green beans only keep 3-5 days in the fridge before they become limp and start to spoil. Frozen green beans however will keep for a minimum 6-8 months so you can enjoy them any time of year!

How to Use Frozen Zucchini

Zucchini is so versatile, here are just a few ideas:

  • Zucchini Bread (try our Lemon Zucchini Bread and Lemon Lime Zucchini Cake and Chocolate Zucchini Cake)
  • Creamy Zucchini Soup
  • Frittatas
  • Stir fries
  • Soups & Stews
  • Casseroles

How to Freeze Zucchini

Let’s get started!

Slice, dice or shred the zucchini, according to how you plan on using it. (When I’m freezing zucchini to add to soups/stews or to puree for soups and sauces I dice the zucchini. If I’m freezing it to use in muffins or zucchini bread I shred it.)

How to freeze zucchini

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Fill a large bowl with water and ice cubes.

Carefully dump the zucchini in the pot of boiling water and cover with the lid. Immediately set the timer for 2 minutes. For shredded zucchini set the timer for 1 minute.

Once the time is up immediately pour the zucchini in a colander.

How to freeze zucchini

Immediately after pouring the zucchini in the colander to drain, plunge the zucchini in the ice water bath. Let it cool in the ice bath for 2 minutes.

How to freeze zucchini

Drain the zucchini again.

Lay the zucchini out in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and blot with paper towels.

How to freeze zucchini

Place the baking tray in the freezer and freeze for 1-2 hours or until the zucchini is frozen.

How to freeze zucchini

Remove the zucchini from the tray and place it in freezer bags or containers.

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!

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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.

How to freeze zucchini

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.

How to freeze zucchini

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.

How to freeze zucchini

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 freeze zucchini

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.

You can spiralize it, bake it, sauté it, fry it, and turn it into bread. But in the middle of zucchini season, even using all those beloved techniques may not be enough to eliminate the piles of uncooked zucchini overtaking your garden or CSA box.

If this is your situation, we're happy to say there's an easy solution: Just freeze it. By freezing zucchini you'll have access to this fresh veggie year-round and won't have to worry about your bounty going to waste.

Follow these four easy steps to freeze zucchini so you can have a little taste of summer any time you want.

How to Freeze Zucchini

1. Rinse

Make sure your zucchini are properly rinsed (and scrubbed if they're particularly dirty) before anything else. You won't be able to clean them post-freezing. Also use this time to cut off any bruised or damaged spots.

2. Prep

How you prep your zucchini depends on how you plan to use it. If you're wanting to mix zucchini into soups and stir fries, then chopped is the way to go. If you're looking for a more bold bite of zucchini, simply slice them for dishes like ratatouille. And for baking zucchini bread, the veggie can easily be shredded.

3. Blanch

Blanching is a necessary step to keep zucchini from turning mushy in the freezer. This technique deactivates the enzymes that spoil the texture and color of zucchini.

To blanch zucchini, simply bring an unsalted pot of water to a boil. Toss in the zucchini, and cook for 1 minute. Then, scoop it out and place into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Once your zucchini is cooled, it's time to move onto freezing.

4. Double Freeze

If you're in a rush, or really don't mind a little extra cooking time after freezing, you can simply tuck your blanched zucchini into zip-topped plastic bags and stick them in the freezer. This will result in a solid piece of zucchini when you pull it out again.

If you want zucchini that's easier to divide, do a double freeze. Spread out the blanched zucchini on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and stick in the freezer. Once the veggie is frozen solid, you can scoop it into a plastic bag and put it back in the freezer. This keeps the individual pieces of zucchini loose. It will be easier to scoop out precisely what you need for your meal or baked good.

How to freeze zucchini

Zucchini and summer squash are easy vegetables to grow in a backyard garden and are often in excess at farmers markets in the summer. If you have an abundance of zucchini or summer squash and have the freezer space, you might want to freeze the surplus. It's very easy and will allow you to enjoy farm fresh zucchini or squash all year long.

If you have a lot of vegetables, you can freeze it in a variety of cuts, depending on how you think you’ll use it. Freeze the squash cubed or sliced if you plan on preparing the zucchini or squash as a side vegetable, casserole, soup, or stews. You can also grate it and freeze it in 1- to 2-cup portions for zucchini bread, muffins, and cakes. Feel free to combine zucchini and summer squash when you freeze them. The taste is very similar and since much of the difference lies in the outside skin color, the combination of the two will not be very different. If you truly prefer one over the other, freeze them separately and label them before putting the vegetables into the freezer.

Preparation and Blanching

Follow these steps to prepare the zucchini and/or summer squash for freezing:

  1. Wash the squash and cut off the blossom and stem ends. There’s no need to peel the squash.
  2. Slice or cube the squash.
  3. Fill a large bowl or container with ice and water.
  4. Fill a large stockpot or kettle with 1 gallon of water; bring it to a boil over high heat.
  5. Put about 1 pound of the prepared squash in the boiling water. If you have a wire basket, you can put that in the water and then place the vegetables in the basket. Using a wire basket in the water will make it easier to lift all of the squash out at the same time, but it’s not necessary. Once the water has returned to a rolling boil, begin timing.
  6. Follow these blanching times, depending on the cut: Grated: 2 minutes; cubed or thinly sliced (1/4 inch): 3 minutes; thick slices (1 1/4 inch): 6 minutes
  7. Immediately immerse the blanched squash in the ice water to stop the cooking.
  8. Drain the squash thoroughly and then transfer to freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace (leave at least an inch if using narrow-mouth glass jars).
  9. If freezing in zip-close storage bags or if you’re using a vacuum sealing system, first freeze slices or cubes on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Seal the vegetables in bags using a vacuum sealing system or by removing as much air as possible from a freezer bag before sealing.
  10. Label the containers or bags with the name of the vegetable, the cut, and date. Once sealed and frozen, it can be stored for up to 3 months or up to a year or more if vacuum sealed.

Note that 1 to 1 1/4 pounds of zucchini or summer squash will yield about 1 pint of frozen vegetables.

Cooking Frozen Zucchini or Summer Squash

To cook, place about 1/2-inch of water in a saucepan and bring to a full boil. Add a pint of frozen vegetables, cover the pan, and cook until just tender. Defrost grated zucchini before using it in a recipe. Blot away excess moisture with paper towels before adding to the batter for cake, bread, muffins, etc. Note that the texture and color may change from the deep freeze, so defrosted zucchini or summer squash will not look or taste the same if eaten raw.

Follow these steps and enjoy nutritious zucchini any time.

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How to freeze zucchini

Zucchini

©2013, Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

2013, Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

For the home gardener, zucchini is often a first-round pick when planning the summer garden, and with good reason. Easy to grow and with a long growing season, zucchini is an easy home run when looking to fill the gathering basket.

And fill it you will. Harvest begins in early summer and does not let up until summer is over. Depending on your growing zone, that can mean a whole lot of zucchini.

Or maybe you just have a lot of zucchini from the grocer and not enough time to eat it all? Freezing is the answer you are looking for.

Zucchini bread, sauteed zucchini, grilled zucchini, zucchini muffins, marinated zucchini salad, zucchini pancakes, zucchini fries, zucchini lasagna, zucchini frittata, zucchini pizza, zucchini quiche, zucchini in zucchini sauce, zucchini stuffed zucchini, zucchini zucchini…

Needless to say, it is a prolific vegetable.

By mid-summer, the ideas have run out. Bags of zucchini begin to appear in the office break room or are left on your front porch as other intrepid gardeners also face zucchini burnout, desperate to clear the counter before the only choice is the compost pile.

Sure, you’re sick of them too. But take them all. Every last one. Don’t worry. We have a plan.

Believe it or not, there will come a day when a zucchini muffin is going to sound pretty good. Added to a hearty winter soup, that zucchini heft and flavor might be just the ticket. And we’ll be ready.

Zucchini (and summer squash, for that matter) freezes well. With a little preparation up front, zucchini and squash can become a welcome "go to" for fall and winter cooking.

Preparing to Freeze

Consider how you will use your zucchini or squash. Do you love it sliced into a stir fry? Chopped and steamed? Grated for baking? Do you love zucchini noodles? Shredded zucchini? Sliced, chopped or grated, it all freezes the same and come winter you will appreciate being able to thaw and dump without having to fool with it a second time.

Once your vegetables are prepared, we have one more stop before hitting the big freeze.

How to freeze zucchini

The end of the zucchini season has seen an abundance of very cheap zucchini at our local greengrocer.

While we enjoy our zucchini, it doesn’t keep for very long in the crisper and buying it in 3kg lots can mean mushy, mouldy waste if we don’t freeze it or use it quickly.

Freezing zucchini is easy to do and means less chopping at meal times.

If you’re wanting to freeze an excess of zucchini, either bought or from your own harvest, here’s how to do it.

What you need:

  • Pot for boiling zucchini
  • A steamer that submerges in a pot or slotted spoon to remove zucchini
  • Bowl of ice water (this will need to be refreshed for each batch)
  • Colander or strainer for draining zucchini
  • Clean tea towels for drying zucchini
  • Tray or two that fits in your freezer for tray freezing zucchini
  • Containers, jars or freezer bags to store frozen zucchini
  • Masking tape and pen or similar for labelling frozen zucchini

the Steps

1. Wash your zucchini

Give the zucchinis a light wash to get rid of any dirt that may be attached. Some may need a very light scrub if there’s mud clinging to the skin.

2. Put a pot of water on to boil

To make this step quicker, you can boil the water in the kettle. I chop the zucchini while the water is coming to the boil.

3. Chop your zucchini as desired

You can cut the zucchini in rounds or dice or however you like. Keep in mind that the smaller you cut your zucchini, the less time it will need to be blanched.

How to freeze zucchini

If you would like to grate your zucchini instead, throw it in the food processor to make light work of the process, squeeze out extra moisture and then go straight to the tray freezing step – skip the blanching. Sprinkle the grated zucchini over the tray to avoid it freezing in big lumps. Once frozen, package, label and date.

4. Blanch

Place the zucchini in a pot of boiling water and bring back to the boil. Depending on how much zucchini you are processing or how big your pot is, you may want to do this in batches. It should only take a few seconds for the water to return to the boil.

Blanch the zucchini for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the size you cut it. I blanched mine for about 30 seconds.

Blanching, by the way, kills off the enzymes that cause the vegetable to break down and discolour, even in the freezer.

5. Shock

Remove the zucchini from the boiling water and place it straight into the ice water. This is to stop the cooking process.

If you are using a steamer basket, don’t place the basket in the ice water as it will make the temperature of the ice water rise to much.

How to freeze zucchini

6. Drain and dry

Remove the zucchini from the ice water once cold and drain in a colander or strainer.

How to freeze zucchini

Zucchini tends to hold a lot of moisture so I dry it a little further by placing on a clean tea towel and very gently patting dry.

How to freeze zucchini

7. Tray Freeze

Place the zucchini in a single layer on a tray or several trays to freeze. This prevents the zucchini from freezing in a single lump.

How to freeze zucchini How to freeze zucchini

8. Pack and label

Once the zucchini is frozen, package it in your desired container, label and date it.

How to freeze zucchini

How to use frozen zucchini

Boil or steam until desired tenderness like you would for any other frozen veg ie. don’t defrost. You will only need to cook frozen zucchini for a minute or less, it will be quite soggy otherwise.

You can also throw the frozen zucchini pieces into casseroles, soups, stir fries, curries etc.

Grated zucchini can be used in zucchini bread, fritters, nuggets, rissoles, meatloaf, veggie patties or your favourite zucchini recipe.

This time of year it’s like feast or famine with these green beauties. Here are some ways of preserving your bountiful harvest to enjoy later.

What to do with excess supply:

Zucchinis are great in soups, stews, stir-fry, casseroles, and of course chocolate zucchini cake, even though you’re probably a bit tired of it right now, in the winter you’ll probably be so happy you learned how to freeze zucchini, that you can just pull out of your freezer.

So, here’s what you need to know so you can freeze your zucchini and enjoy it year-round!

How to Freeze Zucchini – Prep with a plan, very important.

First, start by preparing it for the purpose that you’ll be using it for.

How to freeze zucchiniSlices

How to freeze zucchiniChunks

If you have a lot of zucchini, it’s nice to prepare it in a few different ways so you can use it for different things throughout the winter. You’ll probably want a few larger slices for baking into casseroles, and some nice chunks for soups, stews, and stir-fry.

If you plan on making zucchini muffins, breads, or cakes, you should grate it now and portion it off into 1-2 cup amounts, so you can grab exactly what you’ll need for your recipes.

Blanch It

Once you’ve got your zucchini all prepared, it’s a good idea to blanch it in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. This helps deactivate the enzymes that naturally discolour zucchini over time and turn it mushy. Once the 2-3 minutes are up, plunge your zucchini into a big bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Don’t worry about blanching for your grated portions of zucchini because you kind of want it to turn to mush and break down into your cake anyway.

Freeze It

For the actual freezing part of the process, lay the zucchini out on cookie sheets in your freezer so the pieces don’t all freeze together in a clump. Once everything’s nice and frozen, you can transfer it to plastic containers, zip lock bags, or whatever you’ll be using to store it in the freezer.

Knowing how to freeze zucchini is key for preserving the extras from your summer garden to use during the cooler months. Our Test Kitchen tried several of the most popular methods for how to preserve zucchini. And now we’re sharing our secrets, from the answer to “can you freeze zucchini?” (spoiler: yes!) to details about freezing shredded zucchini, freezing zucchini noodles, and the best way to freeze zucchini to prevent freezer burn. Simply follow our instructions and you can thank yourself in advance for making dinners easy—and delicious—in a few months when you have tasty summer squash ready to toss into your recipes.

How to Freeze Zucchini

No matter your preferred way to cut zucchini for freezing, you'll follow the same four steps.

Step 1: Cut Zucchini

Using a sharp knife ($65, Bed Bath & Beyond), carefully slice the zucchini into whatever shape you like for freezing. Depending on how you’re planning to use the zucchini later, we recommend choosing one of these three cuts:

  • Bite-size pieces or slices
  • Shredded  cut with a spiralizer ($42, Target)

We’re sometimes asked, “Can I freeze a whole zucchini?” You certainly can, but it will be much more challenging to thaw and use later. (Imagine trying to shred a soggy whole thawed squash.) We recommend tackling the shape in advance so you can put the frozen zucchini to quick use when you’re ready.

For reference, 1 pound of zucchini will usually yield between 2½ and 3½ cups, depending on how you chop it. In general, you can expect:

  • About 3½ cups coarsely chopped zucchini
  • About 3¼ cups ¼-inch-thick zucchini slices
  • About 3¼ cups loosely packed, shredded zucchini
  • About 2⅔ cups packed shredded zucchini
  • About 2⅔ cups coarse zucchini spirals

If you’re seeking solutions for how to freeze zucchini for baking bread, muffins, or cakes, freezing shredded zucchini is your best bet. For soups, stews, pasta sauces, and more, try slices or chopped. And if you’re all about lower-carb noodle soups and pasta tosses, try zoodles.

Step 2: Blanch Zucchini

Blanch the zucchini in boiling water 30 to 60 seconds, depending on the size of your pieces. We recommend using a stockpot with a pasta insert ($43, Target) to boil the zucchini, which makes it easy to lift the zucchini from the boiling water in one step. Immediately add the zucchini to a bowl of ice water.

Test Kitchen Tip: Wondering how to freeze zucchini without blanching? You certainly can freeze it as-is after Step 1, but a quick hot water bath and ice dunk deactivates enzymes that would make it more likely for you to end up with mushy discolored zucchini once you freeze and defrost it. Simply put, blanching helps the frozen zucchini stay firmer (and prettier).

Step 3: Dry Zucchini

Drain and thoroughly pat the zucchini dry using paper towels. You can also use a salad spinner to dry the zucchini or help remove excess water after drying with paper towels. Getting all the excess moisture out helps prevent freezer burn.

Step 4: Freeze Zucchini

The last step to master in how to preserve zucchini: Place the blanched, dried squash in a single layer on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and freeze overnight. Once frozen, transfer the zucchini to freezer bags or airtight freezer containers. Seal, label, and date the packages, and store them in your freezer up to 3 months.

The Best Ways to Use Frozen Zucchini

While frozen zucchini won’t work well as a swap for fresh in raw preparations or for stuffed zucchini boats, you can use frozen zucchini in most cooked or baked recipes just as you would use fresh zucchini. If you shredded your zucchini before freezing it, try using it to bake zucchini bread or a Chocolaty Zucchini Loaf Cake. For zucchini noodles, try making Zucchini-Noodle Lasagna, serving it with your favorite pasta sauce, or even adding a handful of them to other spaghetti dishes, like our Summer Spaghetti Salad. If you froze zucchini slices, try grilling, air-frying, or sautéing them for a healthy, delicious side dish. No matter how you choose to serve them, you'll be thankful you saved some zucchini for later.