Ideas for using and storing zucchini

If you find yourself with excessive zucchini this season, consider this preservation method and recipe.

Are the zucchini plants in your garden going crazy producing zucchini? Maybe you have a friend or family member trying to get rid of their abundance of zucchini? This summer vegetable can be enjoyed in a variety of ways or preserved for use during the cold winter months. If you have many zucchini, you might be looking for some new ideas for using or storing your produce. The National Center for Home Food Preservation and Michigan State University Extension do not recommend canning as a method for preserving summer squash. Zucchini, also known as summer squash, is a low-acid vegetable. There is uncertainty in determining processing times that would destroy bacteria that cause botulism. Instead, summer squash can be frozen easily by following the process below.

To freeze your summer squash, choose young squash with tender skin. Wash and cut in ½-inch slices. Water blanch for 3 minutes. Cool promptly, drain and package, leaving ½ inch headspace. Seal and freeze.

Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water for a short time) is necessary for almost all vegetables to be frozen. It stops enzyme actions that can cause changes of flavor, color and texture. Blanching time is crucial and varies with the vegetable and size.

Looking for a new recipe to enjoy your fresh zucchini? Try this easy skillet recipe from the USDA:

Zesty Zucchini Skillet

Servings: 6

Ingredients

½ cup tomato juice, low-sodium

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 onion (medium)

1 tomato (medium)

1 cup mushroom (canned)

2 zucchini (medium)

1 teaspoon basil

Directions
    1. Wash hands thoroughly
    2. Peel the onion. Chop it into small pieces.
    3. Chop the tomato.
    4. Drain the water from the can of mushrooms.
    5. Cut each zucchini into thin slices.
    6. Put the tomato juice and pepper in a skillet or pan. Cook on high heat for 3 minutes.
    7. Add the onion, tomato, and mushrooms.
    8. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
    9. Add the zucchini. Cover and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.
    10. Eat or serve over whole wheat pasta or brown rice

There are plenty of ways to use and enjoy zucchini. Pick some up at the farm market today if you don’t already have some growing in your garden.

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