You really have to love zucchini. It's been so hot and dry here in Vermont and my garden isn't the best it's ever been but those squash plants keep putting out without even the slightest fuss. I've learned to love the burdenous bounty and I thought I would share some of the ways that I preserve and use my zucchini with you.
First up is the good old fashioned shred. If you have a gigantic zucchini or a pile of "average" size zucchini that are staring you in the face but you're just not in the mood to do anything with them, grab your coarse grater and just have your way with them. When I am grating I grate around the seeded part so I am left with a small core of seeds. That I just feed to my very grateful chickens. And now, from here, you can really go anywhere.
Let's start with Zucchini Bread. Perhaps you have a favorite recipe? If it calls for 1 or 2 cup portions of grated zucchini just measure out those size portions, place them in a freezer bag, label the bag with the measurement and stick it right into your freezer. I love to flatten out my freezer bags so they are stackable. It makes me feel good to have a neat stack of measured out frozen zucchini, that's just the kind of girl I am.
Speaking of Zucchini Bread. I love this recipe for Lemon Zucchini Bread.
Often times I will just bake up extra loaves, slice them, freeze the slices flat and then transfer the slices to a gallon size freezer bag. Then, you can pull a slice when you want it, anytime! And if you're the only one in the mood for zucchini bread it's no big deal. Alternatively, you can bake little mini loaves like the ones I did above and freeze those. Just be sure to reduce your baking time by almost half if you are using a mini loaf pan. While we're on the topic of zucchini bread. I also love this recipe for chocolate zucchini bread. It's just outstanding. You could make it in a cake pan, slap some frosting on it and have yourself one delicious chocolate cake as a matter of fact. It also freezes well. But, if you don't get around to baking extra loaves of bread and you have a hankering for some this winter, don't worry! Because you already preserved those perfect portions of grated zucchini in your freezer, right?! We're all feeling really smart now.
Edited: To make either of these breads Gluten Free just sub in your favorite GF flour mix. I use Bob's Red Mill AP Mix.
But since we have piles of zucchini that's all grated up why not can up some very impressive and super simple Zucchini Relish?
That's what I've been doing a lot of lately (of course, in the middle of a heat wave, hence my punchy tone). My kids really love this relish. Use it on burgers and hot dogs etc. all summer long. During the winter and fall add a tablespoon or two to tuna salad or slather your favorite sandwich with it. When I can it I use half pint jars instead of full pint but that's just my preference. If you do the same just make sure you process the jars for the same amount of time. This relish also makes a really special gift to pass out to teachers, friends, host/esses etc. Put some up. You'll be happy you did.
Yet another way that I love to preserve zucchini is to just clean them and then slice them into 1/4" rounds. Freeze those flat on a parchment lined cookie sheet and then transfer to a gallon size freezer bag. The frozen rounds can be used in Zucchini Parmesan Casseroles or Veggie Bakes all year long. I don't defrost them first. I just layer them frozen as you can see in the picture below.
To sum it up, zucchini freezes really well. You can cube it for stews and soups and freeze those. Grate and freeze it for breads, relish, omelets, fritters. Slice it into rounds for casseroles or the grill before your garden gets hopping next season. Whatever suits your fancy. Oh, and when I am pickling and I have extra brine I'll throw some sliced zucchini in a jar, pour the leftover brine over them and let them chill out in the fridge for a day or two. Zucchini makes great fridge pickles!
If you happen to find yourself with a cup or two of extra shredded zucchini that you're not preserving do not hesitate to make some of these!
I really can't stop making these. They are so good. You can find the recipe for Zucchini Fritters here. I've been eating these for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I just squeeze the bejesus out of the mixture instead of waiting for it to drain like the recipe calls for. On one occassion I was clever enough to mix it up the night before and let it drain in a colander over a bowl in the fridge overnight. I feel like whipping some up right now.
I'd love to hear your favorite ways to use or preserve zucchini. Please do share.
Hope you're having a lovely summer!