During the summer season you may have more Zucchini on your hands than you know what to do with. But, cut Zucchinis are notoriously hard to store and keep the texture intact. Being a mildly flavored squash, Zucchini is an ingredient to include in both savory dishes and sweet baked goods.
Fresh cut zucchini should be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for 4 to 5 days to prevent it from going bad. Fresh zucchini must be stored in a well-ventilated manner to prevent moisture build up. The 3 best techniques for storing cut zucchini are fresh, frozen or pickled.
Make the most out of your favorite summer squash by storing it the right way to keep it fresh and edible as long as possible – saving on kitchen time and simultaneously preventing food waste. Here are some ideas.
How Do You Store Fresh Cut Zucchini?
As zucchini is not generally available year-round, if your favorite recipe includes this delicious squash, why not buy in bulk during the season and store in smaller portions for using later in the year?
Storing zucchini to eat later is possible if you take the time to prepare and store it well. This may seem like a daunting task, but, with a few tricks and a bit of hard-work, you can store your favorite zucchini squash for when you need it!
Refrigerating Cut Zucchini
Differently cut Zucchini are stored differently. Freshly cut pieces can be kept in the fridge for a few days before use.
How to Store Fresh Cut Zucchini
Store cut Zucchini in the fridge for up to five days. Wash the whole Zucchini, dry it off well with a paper towel and chop or slice as needed. To store, use an airtight container or Ziplock bag. The best storage place in the refrigerator is in the crisper drawer.
Spiralized Zucchini noodles, also known as zoodles or spaghettini, are best kept exclusively in the fridge. They do not freeze well at all. This way, you avoid excess moisture building up and the entire thing becoming a soggy mess.
- Line a large glass or another bowl with a paper towel.
- Place Zucchini in container and seal.
- Eat within 2 to 3 days.
If you need to store them for additional days, it’s best to switch out the paper towels to avoid moisture build-up.
Whole Zucchini can be kept in the crisper drawer for up to 3 weeks. Place the dry Zucchini in a perforated plastic bag, open on the top.
How to Make and Store Cut Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles
For a fun, easy, tasty, and different way to store Zucchini, try pickling them. With this method, you can add the pickles to your next meal within 24hrs of making it. Eat within 2 weeks.
Note: This method is different from water canning. Items needed for refrigerator pickling are readily available at the store if you don’t already have them in the pantry.
Here’s a basic explanation of the concept; detailed recipes can be found after a quick online search:
All pickles start with some sort of seasoned brine. A simple brine consists of water, distilled white vinegar, sugar, and coarse sea salt brought to a boil. Once boiling, the hot brine is poured right into the jars over the Zucchini.
An overview of how to do it:
- Get the brine going while preparing the jars.
- Set out heatproof glass jars, then add herbs and spices for extra flavor. Black peppercorns, mustard seed, dill or coriander seed, and some halved cloves of garlic give a good taste. Divide these directly into the jars before adding the ribbons. You’ll have evenly distributed flavor.
- Following the spices, add the raw cut Zucchini to the jar, leaving some headroom. Rounds or ribbon cuts work well.
- Fill up the jars with brine, seal, and leave to cool slightly before refrigerating.
Zucchini Shelf Life
Zucchini freezes well over a lengthy period but should be used within a few days of cutting when refrigerated raw.
|Blanched – 10 months Frozen fresh – 3 months
|Cooked, cut Zucchini
|2 – 3 Days
|N/A unless the dish is frozen use within approximately 6 weeks
How to Store Whole Zucchini
As cut Zucchini are so difficult to store, the alternative is to store them whole in the refrigerator and cut up for the recipe as needed. When stored whole, they could last for 2 3 weeks in the crisper drawer. Wash and then dry them well before refrigeration. Placing Zucchini in a plastic bag, open to the top, helps to keep them fresh. Remove any condensation every few days and keep checking for mold.
How to Freeze Cut Zucchini
When blanched, Zucchini keep well deep frozen for months without loss of quality, or if you know you will use frozen Zucchini in under 2 months, freeze directly from fresh.
The best way to use frozen Zucchini is in cooked dishes as the texture will be softer than expected. It can be added to most dishes while still frozen. For baking you’d need to defrost it first.
Freeze Using the Blanch Method
To freeze Zucchini for the longer term, blanch them first to stop naturally occurring enzymes from spoiling the bounty. Freeze Zucchini for up to 10 months in quantities you’ll use in a single sitting. Be sure to label and date the freezer bag/container.
Slice the Zucchini into coins, blanch, and then seal it in freezer-friendly containers or freezer bags. In addition to coin rounds, it can be frozen in other cut formats, including shredded or cut into long thick Zucchini noodles. Don’t cut noodles too small and thin, or they will defrost into mush.
How To Blanch Zucchini
Blanching is an easy technique but can be somewhat time-consuming:
- Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil
- Have a large bowl with ice water ready nearby
- Place your clean, cut Zucchini into the boiling water for up to 2 minutes (time this – much longer, and the rings will be too soft)
- Dain the Zucchini immediately and transfer them to the ice water to stop the cooking process
- Remove the Zucchini from the ice bath after they have cooled enough, approximately 2 – 5 minutes
- If working in batches, top up with ice-cold water every two to three dunks.
- Drain the Zucchini thoroughly and let sit on a kitchen towel for about 15 minutes.
- Transfer into containers/bags, squeezing out as much air as possible.
Tip: To prevent them from sticking together when frozen, freeze the slices separately. Spread the rounds on a lined cookie sheet in a single layer. Place in freezer. After an hour, the Zucchini should be frozen solid, and you can portion them into bags or containers.
If you need to thaw Zucchini, place the frozen container in the fridge the day before you need it. Before adding it to the dish, drain any excess water from the container.
Freezing Zucchini Without Blanching
Zucchini can absolutely be frozen without blanching, although the shredded cut gives the best results. The quality of the frozen Zucchini is best preserved in a very cold freezer (deep freezer) and keeps them frozen completely with no thaw cycles.
It’s easy to do – and faster than blanching.
- Shred Zucchini with a box grater or food processor (there are some other alternatives to a grater that you can try as well).
- Wring out moisture from the Zucchini by using a cheesecloth.
- Measure and store in the amount most suitable, e.g., 1 cup size.
Use directly from frozen or thaw out first, depending on its use. For cooking warm dishes, just add the frozen vegetable. For baking purposes, thaw the ingredient.
Does Zucchini Need to Be Thawed Before Use?
If adding Zucchini slices to hot dishes like soup, you don’t need to thaw it out before using it as an ingredient.
Nonetheless, if you are sautéing it or adding shredded Zucchini to bread or muffin batter, you want to thaw it before using it.
Place the frozen Zucchini in the fridge overnight, soak it in a bowl of normal cold tap water, or pop it in the microwave on the defrost setting. Remove excess moisture by first draining it through a sieve, then wringing it out in cheesecloth.
Can Zucchini Be Canned?
Zucchini is a low acid food and should not be canned in a hot water bath canner or a steam canner. This has to do with the uncertainty about amounts of Zucchini placed into the jar and length of heating time to destroy potentially harmful pathogens*.
Canned Zucchini would become very soft, therefore best used in soups or bread recipes. The better, more reliable option is to freeze the Zucchini in portioned batch sizes.
Rinse and Clean Zucchini Before Cutting
Before preparing the Zucchini for later use, give them a good thorough clean.
- Fill a bowl with water and carefully wipe any dirt from each piece with a cloth or a very soft brush.
- Give them a final rinse under running water.
- Wipe with a paper towel to ensure all the earthiness has lifted off.
Young baby and medium-sized Zucchini have delicate skin; larger-sized specimens are tougher on the outside, able to handle rougher treatment.
It’s seldom necessary to peel this squash. if the skin is damaged and starts turning from green to yellow on older, larger Zucchini may benefit from being peeled.
Zucchini can be turned into a variety of meals, just by changing the way you cut it. The cut can determine the way it’s stored. Lets go through the most common preparation methods.
There are definitely multiple ways to cut a Zucchini. How you cut will determine how you use it and, sometimes, how you store it.
How to Cut Zucchini into Rounds
One way is to cut rounds from the Zucchini. To do this, cut off the top and blossom ends of the Zucchini, then make cuts across the Zucchini to create slices that look like coins. A good average size is ½ inch slices.
You can also use a mandolin. Drag the Zucchini across it. It’s not always faster than cutting with a knife, but the coin sizes will be evenly cut.
The riffled side of a box grater cuts wavy rounds making for a more interesting shape.
How to Cut Zucchini into Fries-Size Sticks
From a food prep perspective, raw sticks can be added to the lunchbox as part of a snack with dip or fry them up as an alternative to potato chips.
Rinse, top, and tail medium-sized Zucchini. With a knife, now slice the Zucchini in half lengthwise. Continue cutting ½ inch thick slices lengthwise.
Cut each slice into equally sized pieces, keeping their intended use in mind. Cut to length, and they are ready to become fries-sized sticks.
How to Make Zucchini Noodles
Zucchini noodles or Zoodles are a favorite low-carb pasta alternative. The best way to create evenly sized Zoodles is to run them through a spiralizer.
Cut the top and blossom ends from the Zucchini. This provides a flat surface for the tabletop spiralizer to catch the vegetable.
With even pressure, spiralize the Zucchini. Choose a blade that will give you a spiral about the same size as fettuccini if you want to cook the zoodles. Anything thinner will probably become mushy in texture. If serving raw or just flash heated, the spaghetti-sized blade is a good choice.
How to Slice Zucchini into Thin Strips
Slicing strips of Zucchini is easy with the help of a mandolin or a standard vegetable peeler.
After top and tailing the vegetable, run it carefully across the mandolin lengthwise. These are ideal for gluten-free lasagne recipes as a replacement for lasagne sheets. Another idea is to pickle them.
Thinly slice with a freshly sharpened knife if you have a steady hand.
How to Shred Zucchini
There is no need to peel a Zucchini, even when shredding. Shredded Zucchini is ideal for soups and baked goods, for instance, Zucchini bread.
To shred Zucchini, cut the bottom end off but leave the small stem attached to safeguard fingers. Run it down your box or plane grater. Cut the last bit before the stem small with a knife if needed.
Fun Facts About Zucchini
- Fruit or vegetable? Zucchini is a squash. It grows from the flower, and itself contains seeds. It is therefore botanically classified as a fruit.
- Main health benefits are cholesterol-free, low-fat, low-sodium powerhouses
- Packed with vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium
- Low calorie food. Around 21 calories per cup of chopped Zucchini.
- It shares its parent with the watermelon.
- It was first described for eating in Milan, Italy, in the early 1900s and was introduced to America in the 1920s. But, researchers have traced it’s ancestral roots back to Mesoamerica.
- Picking smaller is better as the flesh is firmer with less seed.
- The lovely yellow flowers are edible.
- The word Zucchini originates from the Italian word ‘zucchino’ that translates into ‘little gourd’. Courgette means the same, only in French.
- Zucchinis are available in at least 14 interesting variations.
Eaten fresh, they make great vegetable sticks partnering with carrots, celery, and dip. As a staple in stir fry, stews and soups, they bring a lightness to the dish.
Batter and fry as a French fry alternative, or shred and use as part of moist Zucchini bread or muffins. Or spiralized as a spaghetti substitute. Who knew this little summer squash could tick so many boxes?
But, one can only eat so much squash at a sitting. Have you ever grown Zucchini and become despondent as to how to preserve the inevitable glut of baby summer squash?
In that case, it’s best to start refrigerating, freezing, and pickling to extend the taste of summer through the seasons to come.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.