Zucchini is one of those garden vegetables that often outperforms a gardener’s wildest expectations. Despite learning the same lesson year after year, I always plant too much, by which I mean more than one plant. Even if you don’t garden, the prices for this veggie go way down in the summer time, a great way to catch a bargain.
Freezing is a great means of preservation because it is much faster than drying, and does not add the salts and sugars that are required with pickling. (To be fair, both of those methods also have their place!) You can take your harvest well into the winter months if you follow some simple tricks and guidelines offered in this article.
Can Zucchini Noodles be Frozen?
Well…yes and no.
Because zucchini has such a high-water content, freezing takes a toll on this delicate gourd. The water inside each cell of the plant expands when frozen, breaking through the cell walls and turning this once vibrant garden favorite into mush.
For zucchini noodles good enough to dress with your favorite pasta sauce, only fresh will do.
If you plan to use your zoodles in a future recipe that calls for baking, the texture won’t be critical. For me, being able to bake fresh zucchini bread year-round is one reason to freeze some portions of my spiralized zukes to squirrel away for winter.
Another option is to salt and drain your zukes before freezing. This will yield zucchini noodles that are good enough to add to a casserole or soup, although the salty flavor will make them useless for baking.
To freeze for recipes that will not tolerate added salt (such as baking), you will want to use this method. Before you get started, check your recipes to see what portions will work. For example, my bread recipe calls for 2 cups, so I make sure that I pack and label my freezer bags accordingly.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (At least a pint for every cup of zukes.)
- Thoroughly wash, trim and spiralize.
- Fill your sink or a large bowl with icy water. It needs to be large enough to submerge your colander in. You can also use your salad spinner for this in a pinch.
- Once your water is at a rolling boil, add your spiralized zucchini in batches that are small enough to not cool the water down too fast.
- Boil for 30 seconds.
- Immediately drain and submerge in ice water.
- Stir around until completely cold.
- Pat dry with paper towels.
- Pack into portion labeled freezer bags, squeezing out any excess air.
Despite what you may read on the internet, this method will not work miracles. Although salting zukes will give you a slightly better texture after freezing, it still won’t be nice enough to dress with sauce and eat. However, this method is a good if you want to use as an accent in savory recipes like soups, stews or casseroles.
- Clean and spiralize your zucchini noodles into a large bowl.
- Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of zucchini. Toss so that they will be coated evenly.
- Drain in a colander for 1 hour.
- Rinse with cold water. Don’t overdo it here – just enough to rinse the excess salt off.
- Doing no more than 2 cups at a time, place your zoodles over a triple layer of cheesecloth. Pull the corners together and twist and squeeze the ball of zucchini. The more you twist, the more moisture you will get out of your noodles before freezing.
- Remove from the cheesecloth and pack tightly into freezer bags, pressing out as much air as you can before sealing. Make sure to use portions that make sense for a single recipe, such as one or two cups.
Either way you decide to go, both of these methods will help you take advantage of this abundant summer vegetable so that you can enjoy it year-round!