Summertime means squash season. Even in a drought, it seems like squash is the cockroach of the vegetable garden – it can survive anything. This time of year, we’re all up to our ears in it, throwing squash and zucchini on the grill every other night, making squash casseroles, baking zucchini bread, and pawning it off on our friends and neighbors.
So this year, I decided to take a lesson from my mom and try freezing squash. “Putting up” vegetables, as we say here in the South, always sounded so intimidating to me, but it’s actually quite simple!
I’ve always had a freezer stocked with squash from my mom’s garden. I use it in pasta sauce, vegetable soup and general sautés, but it can be served by itself with some olive oil and garlic for an easy side dish, or use it in squash casserole or dressing. The possibilities are endless – enjoy these step-by-step instructions of how to blanch and freeze summer squash (and zucchini).
- Wash your squash. I had several different varieties from my mom, but the instructions are the same for any type of squash, whether it’s crookneck, zucchini or something else.
- Cut the squash into rounds about 1/4-inch thick. If you plan on using it for zucchini bread, you could grate it instead.
- Blanch the squash by steaming or boiling them for about 3 to 5 minutes (less time if grated). I use an inexpensive metal steamer, since that’s what my mom uses, but you can also just plop it straight into boiling water. This destroys the enzymes and bacteria that would, over time, remove nutrients and flavor from the squash.
- Cool the squash. Once it’s done steaming or boiling (should be tender when poked with a fork), immediately throw the squash into a prepared bowl of ice water, adding additional ice if needed. Moving the squash quickly from heat to cold ensures the squash aren’t overcooked.
- Drain the squash. This will remove excess moisture and prepare the squash for freezing.
- Put it in a zip-close freezer bag (I used pint-sized bags), and get out as much air as you can. Then stick it in the freezer for use any time of the year!
SEE MORE: Preserving and Freezing Fresh Produce