I will review two methods for keeping some zukes for the winter months. First, blanching and freezing which is great for adding summer squash to winter stews, soups and casseroles. Blanching is a process where you immerse the vegetable of choice in boiling water for a set period of time and then immerse it in ice water. This is great when serving them fresh, but it is a really great way to preserve them as well. Click here to see Method II: Grating and Freezing.
Method One - Blanching and Freezing
- Sharp kitchen knife
- Cutting Board
- Large Pasta Pentola
- Large bowl
- Ice packs
- Ziploc freezer bags
- Cookie sheet
1) Harvest zucchini when it is 6-8" (to 10") long for this method. I will have another way to keep it if it is longer.
2) Rinse zucchini clean with fresh water.
3) Using a sharp kitchen knife, trim off ends and cut the rest into 1/4" slices.
4) Prepare your ice bath by placing clean ice packs in a bowl. I like to use ice packs because they seem to melt slower than ice.
4) Fill a pasta pentola 2/3 of the way full of water. I like using a pentola because I can remove the squash immediately from the water when the time is up and add more squash to the already boiling water to keep the processing going.
5) Once your water is boiling add your sliced squash to the pentola. I would suggest processing one type at a time.
6) Wait for 3 minutes and remove the strainer of the pentola and give it a few, quick shakes over the pot to remove excess water.
7) Pour your squash into the ice water. Gently run cool water over the hot squash to cool the temperature and then place the ice packs on top. Wait at least 5 minutes. This will stop the cooking process.
8) Pour cooled squash into a strainer. I suggest labeling your bags before filling them. Make sure you include veggie type, processing date, and amount. At this point you can use a FoodSaver to preserve your squash or you can place it into a single-ish layer in your Ziploc bags.
9) Zip bags shut except for a small hole at the end. Stick straw in at least 3 inches and suck air out of bag. Quickly slide the straw out and zip 'er shut!
11) Place flat bags on a cookie sheet in a freezer that is at most 0 degrees F. After a couple of hours, you can remove the cookie sheet and you will have beautiful, easy to stack and store bags of your freshly grown summer squash.
Frozen squash is good for up to one year when kept in a freezer that is 0 degrees or cooler. After defrosting, drain the excess liquid before adding the squash to your recipe.