Freezing Zucchini

Although zucchini is often thought of as a vegetable, it is actually a fruit. Zucchini is considered to be a summer squash, which is part of the Cucurbitaceae family. According to the West Virginia extension office, it contains approximately 94 percent water, is low in calories and is a good source of vitamin A as well as potassium.

In the United States, Florida and California are the major commercial producers of zucchini. However, it can be grown in the backyard garden in many states throughout the country. Zucchini is a bountiful fruit, producing ample amounts yearly. After you've enjoyed multiple dishes of sauteed zucchini, fried zucchini and loaves of sweet zucchini bread, consider freezing this succulent garden treat to enjoy it year-round.

Zucchini can be frozen easily and then enjoyed later in many of your favorite zucchini dishes. Freezing zucchini is simple and can be done in a few easy steps.

Selecting the zucchini

While you can't always choose the perfect specimen for freezing, it does help to select fruits with skins that have a shiny appearance. Dull skins can mean the inside of the zucchini may be dry, making this choice not the best for freezing.

Preparing the zucchini

Wash and cut your zucchini into one-half inch cubes or one-half inch slices. You do not have to peel or skin the zucchini, but be sure to wash it thoroughly. Before freezing zucchini, it needs to be blanched. Blanching is a cooking process achieved through boiling or steaming. According to the Utah State University extension office, certain enzymes can continue to be active in the zucchini during frozen storage if not blanched correctly. Time is critical when blanching. Underblanch and the enzymes are not stopped. Overblanch and you will lose flavor.

Blanching the zucchini

To blanch the zucchini, bring one gallon of water to boil in a large pot. One gallon of water is enough for one pound of zucchini. When the water hits its boiling point, add the zucchini. Cover the pot and set a timer for three minutes. As soon as the three minutes have passed, remove the zucchini from the water. Place it into a strainer and immediately run cold water over it. You also can prepare a large bowl of ice water to submerge the zucchini in. Submerging hot zucchini into ice water will halt the blanching process. Whatever method you choose, be sure to cool the zucchini in the cold water for three minutes. Drain the zucchini thoroughly.

Freezing the zucchini

Label freezer-safe bags or containers with "zucchini" and the current date. Place the drained, cooled zucchini into the freezer-safe packages. It is easiest to portion the zucchini into one-cup servings. This makes it easier to grab measured amounts later when preparing meals. Be sure to squeeze any excess air out of the freezer bag before sealing.

Steaming alternative

Grated zucchini is ideal for baking breads, muffins and more. Grated zucchini can also be frozen; however it is best to blanch it using a steaming method versus the boiling method. You will need a pot that a steamer basket can fit in. Make sure that the steamer basket sits about three to four inches above the bottom of the pan. A tight lid also is needed. Place about two inches of water in the pan and bring it to a boil. Add the grated zucchini to the basket, being careful not to overfill it.

Cover the basket and pan with the lid and set a timer for two minutes. The steam will blanch the zucchini. After two minutes, remove the basket from the pan and plunge it into a bowl of ice water for two minutes. Drain thoroughly and place it into a freezer-safe bag. You may have to prepare several batches depending on how much zucchini you have.

Frozen zucchini will last about ten months if properly packaged.

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