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
- 1 sharp knife
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
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.
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
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
- 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.