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How to Freeze Summer Squash
(Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Crookneck, Pattypan, Straightneck, White Scallop, etc.)

If you like frozen squash in the winter, just imagine how good it would taste if you had picked a firm, fresh squashes yourself and then quickly froze them at home!  It is also one of the simplest ways to put up a vegetable for the winter. Here's how to do it, complete instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. The squash will taste MUCH better than anything you've ever had from a store.

Directions for Freezing squash - Ingredients and Equipment

  • fresh summer squash - any quantity.  I figure one medium sized squash per serving (it does cook down)
  • Vacuum food sealer or "ziploc" type freezer bags (the freezer bag version is heavier and protects better against freezer burn.
  • 1 Large pot of boiling water
  • 2 large bowls, one filled with cold water and ice.
  • 1 sharp knife
   

Instructions

Step 1 - Get the squash!

Start with fresh squash - as fresh as you can get.  If there is a delay between harvesting and freezing, put it in the refrigerator or put ice on it. Harvest before the seeds become mature and when color is still uniformly dark

 

Step 2 - Wash the squash!

I'm sure you can figure out how to rinse the squash in plain cold or lukewarm water using your hands and possibly a gentle brush..

 

Step 3 - Slice the squash

Just take a sharp knife and cut of both ends (about 1/4 of an inch, or half the width of an average woman's little finger)

Slice 1/2-inch thick slices.

Prepare quickly, (if you leave it sit out cut up for more than a half hour, it will start to discolor). Do enough squash for one blanching at a time.

NOTE: If you want grated zucchini for later baking, instead of slicing them, grate them. Then instead of water blanching them, steam blanch them in small quantities 1 to 2 minutes until translucent. Pack in measured amounts into containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool by placing the containers in cold water. Seal and freeze.

 

Step 4 - Get the pots  ready

Get the pot of boiling water ready (about 2/3 filled). Also get a LARGE bowl of ice and cold water ready to receive the  squash after blanching.

Step 5 - Blanch the squash.  

All fruits and vegetables contain enzymes and bacteria that, over time, break down the destroy nutrients and change the color, flavor, and texture of food during frozen storage. squash requires a brief heat treatment, called blanching, in boiling water or steam, to destroy the enzymes before freezing. Cook (blanch) the squash for 3 minutes.

Begin counting the blanching time as soon as you place the squash in the boiling water. Cover the kettle and boil at a high temperature for the required length of time. You may use the same blanching water several times (up to 5). Be sure to add more hot water from the tap from time to time to keep the water level at the required height.

 

Step 6 - Cool the squash

Remove the squash from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place in ice water to cool for about 5 minutes (until cold).  Cooling them quickly prevents overcooking. Keep adding more ice as needed.   Drain thoroughly (2 or 3 minutes)

 

Step 7 - bag the squash

I love the FoodSavers with their vacuum sealing!   If you don't have one, ziploc bags work, too, but it is hard to get as much air out of the bags.  remove the air to prevent drying and freezer burn. TIP:  If you don't own a vacuum food sealer to freeze foods, place food in a Ziploc bags, zip the top shut but leave enough space to insert the tip of a soda straw. When straw is in place, remove air by sucking the air out.  To remove straw, press straw closed where inserted and finish pressing the bag closed as you remove straw.

Note: If the squash is very wet, after draining it, just put it in the food saver bag and freeze it (unsealed and upright) in your freezer. THEN, several hours later or the next day, when it is frozen, you can seal it with no mess!

 

Step 8 - Done!  Pop them into the freezer, on the quick freeze shelf, if you have one!

To later use the squash : Any frozen vegetable will be mushy when thawed, so obviously it's best to use in cooking, rather than attempting to use it raw.  You can let it thaw in the refrigerator, the microwave's defrost setting or just add t frozen to cooking.  I like to use it as a sautéed vegetable, so I partially thaw it, then sautee it in a pan with onions, red peppers and some seasoning .

Tips:

  • Harvest the squash at its peak maturity (firm, not limp or old)
  • Process promptly after harvesting, or keep cooled in the fridge or with ice until then.
  • If the squash is watery when thawed, discard the liquid before using.
  • An alternative method is to cook the squash first - using your favorite recipe for a zucchini casserole, or sautéed squash, etc., and then simply freeze the cooked squash!  Of course, it does take up more room in your freezer.

 

 

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