Wondering what to do with all that zucchini?
Turns out, you can easily write a short book about zucchini. And I think I actually have. But I guess that just means I have lots of ideas for you
General Zucchini Prep & Tips
At a certain size and age, the zucchini start to become spongy in the center and the seeds become prominent. This is always the case for me on the ones that got away, you know, the small zucchini you didnt see that quadrupled in size overnight.
Later in the season, it seems thateven the smaller zucchini get spongy in the center.
Get it out of there! Even if shredding the zucchini, this middle spongy part isnt good eating. Unless you are a chicken, then coincidentally it is VERY good eating. You will be able to tell if your zucchini has this because: A. you will see larger seeds, and B. there will be a difference in the color from the center core to the outer flesh.I use a spoon to scrape out this middle spongy seedy part. It comes out easily and cleanly separates from the good outer flesh.
Preparing and Freezing Shredded Zucchini
If youve cut your zucchini in half to remove the seeds, you will want to grate the zucchini with the skin-side down. Otherwise the skin doesnt grate well and you will end up with a big flap of zucchini skin that doesnt make it into your grated zucchini.
Its really that simple; no blanching, no salting, no other prep needed. Some people will choose to do those things andswear by them, but I think they are absolutely not necessary. And plus, theyre a lot of extra work.
Unnecessary extra work? Not on this homestead.
I highly recommend measuring out the zucchini in each bag and labeling the bag with that amount. I like to put four cups in a quart freezer bag. If you have a specific recipe that you use frozen shredded zucchini for, consider measuring out the amount called for in the recipe- that way it is ready to go, and when you thaw it youll have exactly what you need.
Food saver, shmood saver. I just squeeze out as much air as possible and seal up the bag quickly. I like to spread the zucchini out in the bag as flat as possible. This makes them easier to store.
Consider freezing portions of zucchini in a silicon muffin pan to make pre-measured zucchini pucks. I like this idea because you can really pack the zucchini firmly into the muffin cups in ½ or 1 cup portions, freeze them, then pop them out and store them in a bag in the freezer. And you have small amounts of pre-portioned zucchini ready to go!
Dont like to freeze things in plasticbags? Try these, my favorite containers for freezingeverything from eggs, to soups and garden veggies! They are made for the freezer, are BPA free, quite affordable and reusable. I use these all the time and love them. I have the 16oz as well as the 32oz sizes. They dont become brittle when cold, and they dont take on odors or stains, even tomato-based things. I have frozen chili and marinara sauces with no problems.
Thawing Frozen Shredded Zucchini
If I am lazy, I just throw the whole thing- bag and all into the colander and let it thaw that way in the bag.
And if I am really, really lazy, I put the bag of frozen zucchini in the dish drying rack in the sink.
If you didnt plan ahead and need zucchini RIGHT NOW, you can quick thaw it. If it is in a freezer bag you can bring a pot of water to almost a boil (but not quite!) and pop the whole bag in the warm water for 10 minutes.
How Much Frozen Zucchini do I Use in a Recipe?
But really, just use your logic. When zucchini is thawed it looses volume, and if you squeeze out the water it looses moisture. Keep these things in mind when making your recipe.
And since you pre-measured the zucchini before you froze it, using that measurement (rather than measuring it after it has thawed) will give you the most accurate results.
What to do with Frozen Shredded Zucchini
Italian Layered Casserole| Think lasagna-esque. In a casserole pan add cooked and drained ground turkey or pork sausage and then top that with a thick layer of shredded zucchini (really press as much water out as possible). Next, a layer of fried onions and bell peppers, as much marinara sauce as you like, and topped with cheese if youre so inclined. Bake until bubbly and then top with fresh basil. Add any other ingredient layers youd like!
Breakfast Casserole/Frittata| Eggs and zucchini are great friends. I think a frittata is one of the easiest and best things to make with zucchini. In a medium-sized oven proof skillet (like this one), sauté your veggies, then add in your precooked breakfast meat and brown it up slightly. Turn the heat off and add in beaten eggs. Season with salt and pepper, add any cheeses you wish, and put it in a 350° F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the middle is set. Reheats beautifully too!
Try these Breakfast Casserole/Frittata flavor combinations:
Savory Breads| We all think of sweet zucchini bread, but have you considered savory? Would you liketo make zucchini dill scones in the middle of winter? Zucchini stuffing for Thanksgiving, zucchini and cheddar sourdough loaf, garlic zucchini biscuits, jalapeño and zucchini cornbread
Fritters| You really, really have to squeeze the livin daylights out of the thawed zucchini in order to make good fritters, but it will be well worth it. This is usually just zucchini mixed with something to bind it together (like egg and some type of flour) plus whatever seasonings you like. Pan-fried until crispy and golden!
Outside the Box| Add shredded zucchini to meatloaf or chicken burgers. Stir it into spaghetti or alfredo sauce. Sneak it into chili for an extra vegetable boost, or any other soup for that matter. Add it to your taco meat or enchiladas. And my favorite: in pancakes or waffles!
Freezing the Finished Product: Another Option|Baked zucchini bread freezes wonderfully. So in the summer when you have a plethora of zucchini and also a overload of fresh eggs, make zucchini bread and freeze it! Make a dozen loaves if thats what youll eat in a year.
To freeze the loaves I wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap and then in freezer paper. I adore freezer paper, and buy it by the giant-roll full. I actually cut the loaves in half for freezing (because for just two people, I dont usually want to thaw a whole loaf at a time).
Some people swear by frozen sliced zucchini. I could take it or leave it- as I prefer my zucchini to still have some body to it, andI much prefer shredded for freezing.
And Ill try not to let my shredded zucchini bias get in the way of giving you some good ideas for using frozen sliced zucchini.
The bottom line is that no matter how you prepare it, when you freeze zucchini it will thaw and be on the mushy side. It will still hold its shape, it will taste good and add volume to your meal. It will still have many of its vitamins and nutrients, and it might even remind you of summer. But, it will not be crisp. And if youre okay with that, by all means go for it!
Preparing and Freezing Sliced Zucchini
Slice the zucchini how you normally would for eating. If you like it in small chunks, freeze it in small chunks. If you use half-moon slices, freeze it like that.
I like to make 1/2 slices. If it is a small zucchini I will cut it as is, into circles. If it is a medium-sized zucchini I will cut in half lengthwise and then slice into half-moons.
Load the slices into freezer bags, squeeze out the air and seal.
Freeze in meal-sized portions, whatever amount your family will eat at a meal.
Alternately, you can freeze the zucchini slices individually on a baking sheet and then store them in a large bag so you can just take out a small amount at a time if that is what you need. If you do this, first line your baking sheet with wax or parchment paper, lest your zucchini freeze to the pan and make youangry.
What to do with Frozen Sliced Zucchini
Soups & Stews| You can throw the frozen chunks right into the soup and let them thaw that way. I make a hearty Italian soup with spicy sausage, onions, peppers, kale, green beans and zucchini in a light tomato-y broth. Chicken soup is also a good one for zucchini. Really, any soup or stew that you want to stretch or add extra veggies and nutrients to is a good candidate for frozen zucchini.
Stir Fry| Because of all the other textures and big flavor in an Asian stir-fry, I think that a-little-on-the-mushy-side zucchini fairs well in it.
Sautéed or Roasted| You can also prepare thawed sliced zucchini just like you might if it were fresh. For many people, that means just frying it up in a pan with a little oil, salt and pepper. Maybe a touch of garlic or some onions An easy side dish for any meal.
Preparing Shredded Zucchini for Dehydrating
If your dehydrator trays are stiff, rigid plastic- you should strongly consider using a fruit leather sheet. In my experience, the dried zucchini sticks to the trays and is really hard to remove if the trays are not flexible.
If your trays are flexible (like the ones in my Excalibur) I would recommendnotusing a leather sheet. The zucchini dehydrates faster on the mesh tray without a fruit leather liner, and the faster you can dehydrate it, the better the taste andquality.
Spread the shredded zucchini onto the trays- I shoot forbetween 1/2 and 1 thick.
In my dehydrator, several full trays of zucchini only takes 4-6 hours to completely dehydrate.
One other tip- sometimes my zucchini is done dehydrating at an inconvenient time, like right before bed or right before I am leaving the house for a while. If the dehydrated zucchini isnt sealed up right away, it will suck some moisture back from the air. This is okay, but I prefer my dehydrated zucchini crispy. So, what do I do? Turn the machine off when it is done dehydrating, and if I cant package the zucchini within 30-60 minutes, I turn the dehydrator on again for about 30 minutes right before I can package it, to crisp it up again.
It will come off of the trays in sort of a tangled, stuck together sheet. You can tear it apart with your hands. If you rehydrate it in water or throw it in soup it should come apart naturally.
How to Rehydrate Dehydrated Shredded Zucchini
Torehydrate, add the dehydrated zucchini to really hot or boiling water and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Give it a stir to make sure that all of the zucchini is submerged. Drain off any excess water.
What to do with Dehydrated Shredded Zucchini
Soups & Stews| Shredded zucchini will rehydrate nicely in soup. After adding it, it needs at least 10 minutes to perk up.
Topping| Just top things with it, dried that is! Dont rehydrate it. Sprinkle on salads, on oatmeal, mashed potatoes, or yogurt. Anything you want. Versatile little thing, aint it.
In Baked Goods| I dont mean in the same way you would use zucchini to make a sweet zucchini bread (frozen is much better for that). But rather, adding it in its dehydrated state as a seasoning and color or flavor addition think of adding dehydrated zucchini in the same light that you would add chocolate chips, nuts, or herbsto a recipe. Zucchini chocolate chip cookies or whole wheat sandwich bread with little flecks of zucchini in it. If using in this way, I would recommend finely chopping the dehydrated zucchini first.
Outside the Box| A pizza topping! Nestled into the sauce, it will rehydrate as the pizza bakes. Add it directly to meatloaf, or rehydrate and add to taco meat or hamburgers.
To slice, a mandolin is indispensable. Another one of my favorite kitchen tools. I like to slice the zucchini as thinly as possible so they end up crisp and not chewy.
In my opinion, dehydrated zucchini slices arent good for as many things as the other preservations methods are. Although there are a few unique things you can use your dehydrated zucchini slices for
How to use Dehydrate Zucchini Slices
Slice the zucchini thinly and then place all the zucchini in a large bowl. Drizzle with the oil of your choice, add in the seasoning and then use your hands to make sure all the slices are separated and coated with oil and seasoning.
Zucchini Chip Flavor Ideas:
Healthy Low Carb Lasagna| In my opinion, rehydrated zucchini slicesare a little bit rubbery. But, this makes them a good candidate for a lasagna noodle substitute. Unlike using fresh zucchini, the dehydrated slices wont make your lasagna watery plus they hold their shape well. Consider slicing the zucchini lengthwise (instead of in circles) to make longer, noodle-like sheets. And do rehydrate them in water before you use them to make the lasagna.
Zucchini Flour| After you have dehydrated zucchini slices, you can turn them into a powder, or flour by whizzing them up in a high-speed blender. You will likely need to have a fairly good blender to do this. As far as what to do with zucchini flour well, youre a little on your own there. I would feel comfortable subbing 1/4 of the flour called for in a recipe with zucchini flour. Maybe a tad more, depending on what it is.
Ideas for Making Zucchini Pickles
Zucchini pickles can be cut into spears or slices. If you want them to look fancy, consider a crinkle cutter!
They can be sweet, like a bread & butter pickle, or really lip-puckering, eye-squinting sour.
Consider these flavoring options:
How to Use Zucchini Pickles
Use them on a relish tray and impress your holiday guests.
As an afternoon pick-me-up or lunchtime sandwich accompaniment.
Um, homemade tartar sauce with finely chopped zucchini pickles.
In the best Bloody Mary youve ever made.
The big benefit is that when you eat these fermented foods, you get an incredible dose of good bacteria to your digestive system along with your zucchini.
The vessel you make your ferment in and the way that you cover it can have an impact on the quality of your finished product, whether fermenting zucchini or any other vegetable. People have been fermenting foods for centuries without any special gadgets or containers. However, there is one special gadget I will highly recommend.
Thisnifty gadgetturns your mason jar into a fermenter! These provide an airtight seal on any wide mouth mason jar, butallow fermentation gasses to escape, and prevent air and bacteria from entering your jar and spoiling your goods.
You can use a mason jar with a regular plastic lid, or a glass clamp-top jar you just have to remember to burp it, that is, to let the gasses out every day, so your jar doesnt explode. Some people simply cover their jars with a towel clamped with a rubber band, but this can let bacteria in and it is more likely that your zucchini will turn moldy with this method.
By the way, dont be intimidated- fermenting is actually really simple and easy!
Simple Fermented Zucchini Slices
Wash the zucchini well, and then slice to your desired thickness and layer the slices in a jar.
In a small bowl combine the sea salt, whey and 1 cup of water. Pour the mixture over the sliced zucchini in the jar. Add more water to the jar until the zucchini slices are covered with liquid and the jar is full.
Cover the jar and store in a dark, cool place; allow it to sit for several days.
When the zucchini has reached your desired level of fermentedness (usually between days 3-6), store in the fridge to greatly stop the process and preserve it.
*I always find whey in my yogurt container. It is the liquid that sits on top, or forms in the dips left after youve scooped some yogurt out of the container. Use high-quality plain yogurt. If you dont see much whey, try eating a few spoonfuls of yogurt, stirring the yogurt all around in the container and then letting it sit for a few hours- that should get you some.
Or, try this method from Instructables.
*Chlorinated water will kill the good bacteria we are trying to breed, dont use it.
This is about as easy as it gets.
In a jar, layer 1/2 cup of shredded zucchini followed by a light sprinkle of salt. Repeat this until the jar is full except for the top two inches.
Cover the jar and store in a dark, cool place; allow it to sit for several days.
Taste every day until the zucchini reaches your desired fermentation level.
Once it is perfect, store in the refrigerator to slow the fermentation and enjoy for weeks.
Spicy Zucchini Relish by Taste of Home
Zucchini Relish by Lindseys Luscious
How to Use Zucchini Relish
Mixed into tuna salad for sandwiches or on top of greens.
In potato salad, macaroni salad, or in egg salad or deviled egg filling.
On top of grilled chicken or roast beef.
Want More Preserving?
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