Zucchini is one of the most used vegetables in Spanish cuisine . It belongs to the same family as cucumber, watermelon or pumpkin and is very versatile, since it can be consumed raw or cooked. Low in calories and with a large amount of nutrients, we can choose it, without any doubt, as a perfect ally in a healthy diet .
If you have a garden at home and you have collected so many zucchini that you don’t know what to do with them, we will show you different methods of preserving raw zucchini. One of them is freezing it, so if you have never done it before, we show you in detail how to freeze zucchini.
And we must take into account the way to preserve food to keep it in optimal condition for much longer, as each has its own characteristics. Keep reading this article and discover the best ways to preserve raw zucchini. Let’s go there!
Can zucchini be frozen?
The answer is yes, you can freeze the zucchini, it is also a highly recommended option to preserve them before they spoil. The first step after harvesting or buying them will be to wash the zucchini with cold water to remove any dirt and dirt they may have. Let them drain or pat dry with a clean cloth until the zucchini skin is very dry.
Next, cut the zucchini as you prefer : slices, strips, dice … Everything will depend on the use you want to give them after freezing, you can even freeze the zucchini cut in different ways to always have it ready regardless of the recipe you want to make.
You should also know that before freezing the zucchini you must scald it to cancel the enzymes that cause its deterioration, although below we show you some tricks to be able to freeze the raw zucchini as well.
Put water in a large saucepan over the fire and, when it begins to boil, add the chopped zucchini. The time you have to leave them in the water will vary depending on the size of the pieces, but it will not take more than a few minutes to blanch not very thick zucchini slices. Never add salt to the blanching water, otherwise the zucchini will spoil quickly.
When you turn off the heat, cut the cooking of the zucchini by placing it in a bowl with cold water and ice. If you don’t, the heat will continue to cook them and they will end up well done. Once cool, put them on absorbent kitchen paper to remove excess water.
Before freezing them, it is very important that you spread the zucchini pieces on a tray or similar suitable for the freezer, because if you put them all together in a bag they will stick together . After two hours, the zucchini will be completely frozen and you can place it in freezer bags or wherever you want to store them frozen.
How to freeze raw zucchini
It’s clear that the most popular way to freeze zucchini, as well as most vegetables, is by scalding it. In this way, the enzymes that cause the aging of the vegetable are inactivated, slowing the deterioration and the partial or total loss of its nutritional contributions. However, you can freeze fresh zucchini and have it retain all its nutrients.
However, you must bear in mind that as soon as you thaw it, the deterioration process will accelerate very quickly, something that would happen more slowly if you cook it previously. In any case, if you decide to freeze raw zucchini, you should prepare and consume it immediately. These are the steps to follow:
- First, wash the zucchini very well and dry them carefully.
- Chop the zucchini any way you like.
- Put them on a tray stretched out so that they do not become caked or stick when frozen. Afterwards, you can put them in a normal freezer bag and store them until you need them.
- The adequate temperature to keep them in perfect condition is -18 ºC inside the freezer,so they will remain intact for up to two months.
- Finally, when you thaw the zucchini you should cook them as soon as possible, otherwise the enzymes of the decomposition process will be activated and they will lose color, flavor and nutritional properties, so do not freeze it again.
Tips for preserving zucchini
In addition to freezing the zucchini to have it when you need it, you can preserve it through vinaigrettes and pickles or preserved zucchini. However, to make it last as long as possible in the fridge, you can follow the following tips:
- Store it whole in the refrigerator,if you cut it it will damage faster.
- Avoid washing the zucchini until you are ready to consume it, as excess water accelerates the rotting process.
- If it is wet because you just collected it, dry it very well until any trace of moisture is removed. Do this gently with a clean cloth, as excess moisture will trigger the growth of mold.
- Then put it in a plastic or paper bag, since if you keep the raw zucchini in a bag, its decomposition process will slow down. Remember that the air needs to circulate in the bag,so make a few holes in it before sealing it or you can simply leave it open.
- Store the zucchini bags in the crisper drawer of the fridge. In this area you can better combat humidity, and of course it must be very clean so that it is not contaminated with other products.
- Never store raw zucchini next to fruits that release ethylene, that is, bananas, melons, peaches and others, otherwise it will acquire a bitter taste.
- To conclude, don’t keep the zucchini for more than five to seven days. Sooner or later they will start to wilt, so the fresher you eat them, the better.
And if you still need to do something to preserve your surplus raw zucchini, you know, you can resort to freezing it or canning zucchini. It is delicious, but remember not to overcook it when you go to use the zucchini preserve, as it is already cooked, it will lose all its nutrients .
Benefits of zucchini for health
Zucchini is very rich in vitamins, antioxidant compounds and fiber, which play a fundamental role in health. It stands out, especially, its content in lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds that help strengthen our eyes.
In addition, it is rich in B vitamins, which contributes to the development and repair of tissues in the body, as well as the formation of red blood cells. It is also a source of vitamin C and vitamin A, powerful antioxidants that help us maintain healthy skin and fight against harmful free radicals . Free radicals are responsible for causing aging of the skin, causing the appearance of spots and wrinkles . So to prevent the symptoms of aging, nothing like zucchini.
As for its minerals, zucchini are rich in phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, although they are better assimilated when cooked.