Had I known that National “Sneak Some Zucchini onto your Neighbor’s Porch” Day was on August 8th, I probably could have rid myself of my surplus. There are zucchini’s hiding in all of the crevasses of my fridge (and probably rolling around rotting in my car). Last year, we got maybe 2 zucchini and summer squash from our plants before the first frost. They were decimated by the little cucumber beetle and took all summer to regain enough strength to put out a few measly fruits. This year though, I planted a few extra, just in case the little buggers wanted to return. Well, they didn’t return until recently and my plants are so massive that even a few chewed leaves wouldn’t tame those beasts! I pick about 8 vegetables every other day. There is no way we can eat 4 a day all summer, so here-in lies the conundrum of what to do with them. After some googling, I found a few ways to cook, store, and enjoy this obscene bounty for months to come.
1. Shred and Freeze. Using a food processor’s shredder attachment will make this process quick and easy. Once shredded, drain extra liquid out in a strainer while pushing heavily on top of the zucchini. Place in freezer bags, remove all of the air, and freeze.
2. Chop, Blanch, and Freeze. Dice or slice squash and zucchini in 1/2 inch thick chunks. Drop pieces into boiling water for 2 minutes and then immediately move to a bowl of ice water for 2 minutes. Drain the excess water, lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and freeze for an hour or two. Once the pieces are frozen, place them into freezer bags, remove the air, and store.
3. Dehydrate. There are multiple ways to dehydrate (shredded, chunks, slices, chips, etc.). I started with sliced zucchini and chunks. I have read that if the zucchini is sliced thin enough, blanching is not necessary, but when dehydrating chunks or thick slices, it is recommended to blanch for 3 minutes before laying on the dehydrator trays.
4. Pickle. I found a few recipes for bread and butter zucchini pickles. As I have never canned these before, I don’t really know how they will turn out for a few months, but the reviews for various recipes make them seem pretty foolproof!
5. Bake. Who doesn’t love a good Zucchini bread? How about Zucchini cookies?
6. Cook. Zucchini and yellow squash have a sweet, but mild flavor. You can add it to virtually everything. From omelettes to pasta to fajitas, it will add substance and nutrients to almost every meal!
So, be on the lookout in the coming week(s) for various ways to cook, dry, can, and freeze that bountiful vegetable. In the meantime, plan to plant less next year!