Knowing this technique to preserve zucchini is very useful to enjoy it in perfect nutritional and flavor conditions for a long time. We explain the steps and the considerations to have.
This vegetable is in the market throughout the year, but did you know that its best time is the months of July, August, and September? If you have your own garden with a large production or you want to enjoy its optimal flavor and quality for longer, you can choose to freeze the zucchini.
In this way and in a few simple steps it is well preserved and ready to be prepared at any time it is needed. A very interesting option, since it is light food, very versatile in the kitchen, and with a relevant contribution of vitamins, fiber, and minerals. In the following article, we explain how to do it safely.
How is it better to freeze it: whole or cut?
One of the first questions about how to freeze zucchini refers to the convenience or not of cutting it. There are some practical reasons why it is advisable to chop it up earlier . On the one hand, this gives the option of packaging in smaller portions that take up less space.
But in addition, freezing the cut zucchini allows calculating much better the quantities that are necessary in the preparation of a dish and adapt them to the people who are going to eat. Thus, only what is going to be used is defrosted and waste is avoided.
The cutting possibilities are endless, whether in strips, sticks, cubes or slices. It all depends on the subsequent use you want to give it.
To these comfort, issues must be added safety and food quality reasons. As indicated in the United States Department of Agriculture, before freezing vegetables it is advisable to subject them to a previous blanching to fix some nutrients and avoid their subsequent decomposition.
Blanch and freeze
As the experts recommend, the most recommended method to freeze zucchini is with a small previous blanching. In this way, the enzymes that cause deterioration are inactivated and it remains in better condition and with a bright color.
This whitening allows reducing the initial loss of nutrients, especially of water-soluble vitamins, according to different studies. However, keep in mind that keeping food frozen does not preserve it indefinitely.
To carry out this technique successfully, follow these steps:
- Wash the zucchini and remove the remains of soil and dirt well. Cut into the desired shape.
- Prepare a large bowl with water and ice to cool later.
- Put water in a saucepan over the fire (about three-quarters of the capacity). Do not add salt, as otherwise, they decompose more easily.
- When it starts to boil, add the vegetables to the water and cook for just a few minutes. The time depends on the size of the cut, but about 3 minutes is sufficient.
- Remove from the heat, strain, and transfer to a bowl of cold water to stop cooking. Leave another 3 minutes, drain the vegetables and dry very well with a cloth or kitchen paper. This step is important, as this prevents it from softening.
Once the blanching is done, it is time to pack. One trick to prevent the pieces from sticking together is to spread them well on a tray suitable for the freezer and put them in for about 2 hours. Afterward, they are ready to put into the chosen bags or containers.
Freezing raw zucchini
Although it is preferable to previously subject the food to a little cooking, raw zucchini can also be placed in the freezer. However, the low temperatures stop the deterioration of the food while the freezing lasts, but this accelerates quickly when defrosting.
Then, a loss of flavor and nutritional properties appears more quickly. Taking the proper steps can minimize these consequences:
- Wash and dry the vegetables carefully to avoid any traces of moisture.
- Cut into the desired pieces and shape.
- Put on a tray in a single layer to avoid that they are all together and glued. Put about two hours in the freezer.
- After this time, store in the desired containers, either glass jars or freezer bags.
Tips to defrost it
Once the zucchini is frozen in one of the two ways explained, it remains in good condition for about two months. It is advisable to mark the dates of freezing on the containers in order to have the times under control. Thus, vegetables are available in conditions very similar to those of fresh specimens.
When you want to use the zucchini, it is only necessary to go to the refrigerator and let it defrost. The time depends on the size of the pieces and the quantity. It is not advisable to defrost food at room temperature, as this way the risk of contamination is greater.
Final recommendations for freezing zucchini safely
Keeping temperatures below zero is one of the different food preservation techniques. It is a good method to store them when they are in abundant quantities and are not going to be used in a short time. It also allows to extend the optimal season.
The quality of frozen vegetables depends largely on the quality of the product at the source. It is necessary to choose firm pieces and with a bright color without damage to the surface. It is also important to freeze while it is still in good condition. Otherwise, its flavor, appearance, and nutrients may be diminished.
Pre-blanching is the best way to avoid nutrient loss. In the same way, when cut into pieces it is kept ready for easier later use. The suitable containers avoid the appearance of cold burns in the food.
As indicated by basic food safety regulations, once defrosted it cannot be refrozen, as the risk of contamination increases. It is preferable to cook as soon as possible, especially if the zucchini is raw.
Fortunately, zucchini admits a great number of preparations and varied recipes. In addition, its mild flavor and easy digestion make it a perfect food for all ages and suitable for consumption, even if you suffer from gastric problems.