A good friend of mine once described August in Maine as a time of “random acts of zucchini.” In her small town where people did not necessarily lock the doors of their cars, people would come out of church or the bank or the local cafe to find anonymous bags of zucchini in their front seats. I found myself envious of those hapless holders of bulging bags of squash. When we first moved to Vancouver Island one of our neighbors had a bumper crop of zucchini and cucumber, and would offer us bulging bags of produce whenever Little Man and I came walking by. I would cruse by her house as often as possible with the hopes of catching her eye.
Now that we have our garden of dreams I made sure to plant zucchini, as well as a variety of summer squash called Sunburst (aka Patty Pan). I had been warned about the size that these plants could achieve, so I wasn’t as surprised by the size of the plant as I was about where the zucchini grew. At first neither Dave nor I could find the actual zucchini, partly since I imagined zucchini growing like pumpkins stretched out along a long vine. Instead, they grow like octopus arms, branching out from a central stalk-like structure. Once we discovered where our squash actually grew, we were off to the races with trying to keep up with preserving and eating our crop.
I’ll be sharing some of my favorite zucchini recipes soon, but first I want to share a simple way to preserve your zucchini for those times when your garden or farmers’ market may not be producing. I have been experimenting with (and loving!) pickling and preserving, but I have to say that my favorite method for saving my harvest is my freezer. Zucchini freezes really well, particularly when it is shredded.
If you have a food processor with a shredding attachment this is going to be the easiest food storage ever. If all you have is a handheld shredder, that works too. It just takes a little more elbow grease. The key to freezing the zucchini is to measure out the portions. So here’s what I did…
Using my food processor with the shredding disk attachment, I shredded enough zucchini to fill my large mixing bowl.
I then used my 1 cup measuring cup to portion out mounds of shredded zucchini onto my parchment paper lined baking sheets. The parchment paper keeps the zucchini from freezing/sticking to the baking sheet. I was able to fit 6 1-cup mounds on each sheet. As I unmolded each scoop I would gently press it down to slightly compact the zucchini and to make storing the frozen zucchini easier. Then I covered the sheet with plastic wrap, gently pressing down between the mounds of zucchini to remove some of the air. I then placed the entire baking sheet in the freezer overnight.
The next morning we took our little zucchini hockey pucks out of the freezer and put them into bags for their long sleep in the freezer. Now that they are frozen in 1 cup increments, I can pull them out whenever I want and I’ll know exactly how much I need to thaw.
Stay tuned for an amazing zucchini bread recipe… and an even better zucchini brownie recipe… where you can use these frozen zucchini in the dead of winter when nothing is stirring in your garden beyond the snow flakes.