How to Store Zucchini So It Lasts
Not sure how to store this versatile summer favorite? We have everything you need to know about fridge and freezer storage, plus the best recipes for enjoying it.
Zucchini may be available year-round at the supermarket, but fans of this summer vegetable know summer is when it's at its peak. Fans also know that zucchini is not just versatile but also easy to cook and enjoy. You can sauté zucchini, steam zucchini, roast zucchini, grill zucchini or even eat zucchini raw. Zucchini can also be layered into lasagna, simmered in soup or even shaved into ribbons or cut into noodles (aka zoodles).
Related: How to Cook Zucchini
As with all produce, to get the most out of this summer squash, it needs to be stored properly, whether that's for a day or two, a week or more long-term. Thankfully, keeping zucchini in tip-top shape is easy, and we have everything you need to know. Read on for the do's and don'ts of storing zucchini.
How to Store Zucchini
Do Shop Smart for Zucchini
Being able to keep zucchini fresh begins at the market. Look for zucchini that is firm, with smooth, shiny vibrant green skin—wrinkles, not surprisingly, are a sign of age. If possible, opt for small to medium zucchini, no more than 6 inches long and 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Larger zucchini tends to be pulpier and may spoil more quickly. Also look for zucchini with some of its stem attached, which is a good indication that it will last longer.
Don't Wash Zucchini (Until Ready to Use It)
One of the keys to keeping zucchini fresh is to keep it as dry as possible, which means it's best to wash it just before using. To go a step further, you can pat zucchini down with a paper towel to absorb every bit of moisture before storing.
Do Store Fresh Zucchini in the Fridge
If properly stored, zucchini will last up to a week. The best way to store zucchini is in the refrigerator, preferably in the crisper drawer where humidity is kept to a minimum. Depending on the freshness of the zucchini, it may start to soften or wrinkle before that, so if you notice wilting, use that squash right away—perhaps smashed and topped with Parmesan or baked into zucchini fries.
Do Let Zucchini Breathe
Good ventilation is essential for keeping zucchini fresh. You can store zucchini in either a plastic or paper bag but make sure one end is open so air can circulate. Or, if you use a sealed plastic bag, poke a few holes to let air in and out.
Don't Be Afraid to Freeze Zucchini
If you have more zucchini that you can use, freezing is the best long-term storage option and it's easy. Here's how to freeze zucchini: Wash zucchini and cut it into small pieces—1/2-inch-thick rounds work well—then blanch in boiling water until brightly colored and just slightly tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the zucchini, then plunge it into an ice bath to cool and drain again. Pat the zucchini dry, then pack it into freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as possible, and freeze for up to 3 months. For ease, freeze zucchini in quantities you'll use and be sure to label and date the freezer bag.
Don't Freeze Zucchini Noodles
While some spiralized vegetables can be frozen, zucchini noodles tend to turn mushy, so it's better to use them right away.
Do Defrost and Drain Zucchini
The easiest way to defrost frozen zucchini is in the refrigerator and it will only take a few hours, but if you are in a hurry, place the sealed bag in a bowl of cold water to speed up the thawing process. You may find extra water in the bag, which can simply be drained off. If you freeze grated or shredded raw zucchini, squeezing out or patting dry the zucchini is particularly important, as it tends to have a lot of moisture.
Don't Let Any Zucchini Go to Waste
Fresh zucchini that's stored in the refrigerator can be used in almost endless ways, including in stuffed zucchini, baked into a zucchini gratin or tossed with pasta. Frozen zucchini won't be quite as crisp as fresh, so it's better for sauces, soups and casseroles.