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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Preserving The Harvest - Freezing Zucchini Squash

I recently posted instructions for freezing yellow summer squash. While the instructions are the same for both vegetables, I am posting them separately because the size to harvest is different.

You will need the following items:

Knife & Cutting Board
1 large empty Bowl
1 large Pot of water
1 Colander
1 large Bowl of very cold water
Large Cookie Sheet lined with Paper Towels
Freezer bags in the size of your choice (I use quarts for squash)
Marker for recording the date on the bag

I harvest Zucchini Squash at between 8 and 10 inches long but no bigger around than my fist.

The first thing I do is wash the zucchini in cold water, removing any dead blossoms which are still clinging to the blossom end and scrubbing lightly to remove any stubborn dirt particles.

I cut the ends off, cutting at least 3/8" of the blossom end off because this is where the enzymes are stored which begin the rotting process of the zucchini. Then I cut the entire zucchini into 1/4" to 1/2" slices, placing them into the empty bowl. I believe this is a personal preference as to how thick or thin you'd like your squash to be. Also, if you plan to fry it you may want it a bit thinner than if you plan to stew it or cook it in a casserole. This is your call.

I bring the water to a boil as I slice the last few zucchini. Once it is boiling I place part of the zucchini slices into the water and blanch (boil) them for 1 minute. This kills any remaining enzymes which may be working to rot the vegetable and kills any other germs which may be hanging around. This is the best way to prepare some vegetables for long term storage in the freezer.

After the 1 minute blanching period I use my colander to remove the zucchini from the boiling water, shake them a bit and drain the excess hot water off for only a few second.

Then I immediately plunge them into the bowl of very cold water (or ice water) to shock the vegetable and stop the cooking process immediately.

Once I am satisfied the vegetable slices have cooled to my desire, I remove them with the colander, draining them again and spread them out on the paper lined cookie sheet to drain further and to cool down completely.

I repeat this process in portions until all of the sliced zucchini squash has been blanched, cooled and drained. You may find it necessary to add ice to the shocking water in order to keep it cool, depending on how many batches you have to blanch.

The final step is to pack the squash for the freezer. I use quart size freezer bags, marking on the front what the bag contains and the year that I prepared it. I don't necessarily pack the bag full, I simply estimate how much my family needs for one meal and pack accordingly. Zucchini Yellow Summer Squash should keep in the freezer for up to one year.

I hope some of you found this to be helpful in one way or another.

Have a blessed day!

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