My 'farmers market' had yellow squash and the hilariously billed "Italian Squash" (aka: zucchini) on sale the other week. (Actually, the store is a retail chain, but it's funny that they call it a 'farmers market' since everything's imported. My town's actual farmer's market doesn't start until May for heaven's sake. And then they don't have much in the way of fresh and local...for example, one guy sells frozen salmon. I'll pass, thanks.) Anyway, I bought a bunch so I could freeze it. I'm hoping my squash will produce enough this summer that I'll laugh at having bought some to store now, but I'm not gonna count on it.
So, freezing squashes is great because you don't have to blanch them. Blanching kills the enzymes that lead to spoilage. There's a lot of science involved that I'll skip. The point here is, you don' t need to for summer squashes unless you want.
For now, just wash...
slice or grate...
and lay-out flat on a baking sheet.
Laying them out flat is optional, but it's nice since it helps avoid having one giant frozen mound of squash. You can just pour out what you need like from a store-bough bag.
Notice, I also pre-bag mine. I do this mostly because I'm lazy and I will forget to come back after 30 minutes or so to bag up the slices. If I don't, I'll open up the freezer hours later and curse beause I have trays of loose veggies that I forgot about and now I have to stop what I was really doing and fumble around with a bunch of hard, roly discs that skitter across my kitchen floor. Pre-bagging is just easier.
But be sure label the bags BEFORE putting the veggies in.
Now press out the air...
and place flat in the freezer...
(Have I mentioned how much I love my bottom-freezer with the pull-out drawer?)
Once they're frozen more or less, just slide the trays out and you're good to go. Cook these as you would any frozen veggie. They won't be super crisp like fresh, but they're still great in soups or sauted if you don't mind them a bit soft.
(In case you're interested, you probably can get fairly crisp veggies if you freeze these fast enough. It's the ice crystals that break down the cell walls and make plants mushy. The slower something freezes, the bigger the crystals. If you used, say, dry ice for super-fast freezing and then put them in the bottom of a deep-freeze, you might have a chance. Good luck with that.)
A few tips for the shredded stuff:
- if you have one, use a measuring spoon with rounded edges on the bottom, it makes nice mounds that don't cling to any crevices inside the cup. If yours leads a double life living on the floor as a baby toy, be sure to wash it well first.
- pre-bag on a cookie sheet (see above). Be sure to leave some space between the mounds but gently press out as much air as you can around them.
- check your recipe to see how much you need. For zucchini bread, I know that I'll need 2 1/2 cups of zucchini, so I made 5 half-cup mounds.
- these will take longer to freeze than the slices, so leave them undisturbed a few hours before taking them off the cookie sheet.
- when you're ready to use, just pull them out to thaw. You could probably thaw them in the microwave but I've never tried it.