How to Freeze Summer Squash - Easily! With Step-by-step Photos, Recipe, Directions, Ingredients and Costs

This month's notes: July 2014: Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries tomatoes, corn and most vegetables are being picked in most places; strawberries are finishing or done; Peaches are in and early apples will start in late July. Find a local blueberry festival and blueberry picking tips here. See how easy it is to make strawberry jam or strawberry-rhubarb jam! Make your own homemade strawberry ice cream including low fat, low sugar and other flavors))  Have fun, eat healthier and better tasting, and save money by picking your own locally grown fruit and vegetables, and then using our easy canning and freezing directions!

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How to Freeze Summer Squash (Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Crookneck, Pattypan, Straightneck, White Scallop, etc.)

Click here for a PDF print version

If you like frozen squash in the winter, just imagine how good it would taste if you had picked a firm, fresh squashes yourself and then quickly froze them at home!  It is also one of the simplest ways to put up a vegetable for the winter. Here's how to do it, complete instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. The squash will taste MUCH better than anything you've ever had from a store. And you might like this recipe, too: How to make Grilled Summer Squash with Feta - which you can freeze for the winter, or serve fresh!

Directions for Freezing squash

Ingredients
  • fresh summer squash - any quantity.  I figure one medium sized squash per serving (it does cook down)

Equipment

  • Vacuum food sealer or "ziploc" type freezer bags (the freezer bag version is heavier and protects better against freezer burn.
  • 1 Large pot of boiling water
  • 2 large bowls, one filled with cold water and ice.
  • 1 sharp knife

Directions for Freezing Summer Squash

Step 1 - Get the squash!

Start with fresh squash - as fresh as you can get.  If there is a delay between harvesting and freezing, put it in the refrigerator or put ice on it. Harvest before the seeds become mature and when color is still uniformly dark

 

Step 2 - Wash the squash!

I'm sure you can figure out how to rinse the squash in plain cold or lukewarm water using your hands and possibly a gentle brush..

 

 

 

Step 3 - Slice the squash

Just take a sharp knife and cut of both ends (about 1/4 of an inch, or half the width of an average woman's little finger)

Slice 1/2-inch thick slices.

Prepare quickly, (if you leave it sit out cut up for more than a half hour, it will start to discolor). Do enough squash for one blanching at a time.

NOTE: If you want grated zucchini for later baking, instead of slicing them, grate them. Then instead of water blanching them, steam blanch them in small quantities 1 to 2 minutes until translucent. Pack in measured amounts into containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool by placing the containers in cold water. Seal and freeze.

Step 4 - Get the pots  ready

Get the pot of boiling water ready (about 2/3 filled). Also get a LARGE bowl of ice and cold water ready to receive the  squash after blanching.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5 - Blanch the squash.  

All fruits and vegetables contain enzymes and bacteria that, over time, break down the destroy nutrients and change the color, flavor, and texture of food during frozen storage. squash requires a brief heat treatment, called blanching, in boiling water or steam, to destroy the enzymes before freezing. Cook (blanch) the squash for 3 minutes.

Begin counting the blanching time as soon as you place the squash in the boiling water. Cover the kettle and boil at a high temperature for the required length of time. You may use the same blanching water several times (up to 5). Be sure to add more hot water from the tap from time to time to keep the water level at the required height.

Step 6 - Cool the squash

Remove the squash from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place in ice water to cool for about 5 minutes (until cold).

Cooling them quickly prevents overcooking. Keep adding more ice as needed.

Drain thoroughly (2 or 3 minutes)

 

 

 

 

 

Step 7 - bag the squashFoodsaver vac bag

I love the FoodSavers (see this page for more information) with their vacuum sealing!  I am not paid by them, but these things really work.  If you don't have one, ziploc bags work, too, but it is hard to get as much air out of the bags.  remove the air to prevent drying and freezer burn. TIP:  If you don't own a vacuum food sealer to freeze foods, place food in a Ziploc bags, zip the top shut but leave enough space to insert the tip of a soda straw. When straw is in place, remove air by sucking the air out.  To remove straw, press straw closed where inserted and finish pressing the bag closed as you remove straw.

Note:

Ziploc bagIf the squash is very wet, after draining it, just put it in the food saver bag and freeze it (unsealed and upright) in your freezer. THEN, several hours later or the next day, when it is frozen, you can seal it with no mess!

 

 

 

 

 

Step 8 - Done!

Pop them into the freezer, on the quick freeze shelf, if you have one! Freezing keeps summer squash safe to eat almost indefinitely, but the recommended maximum storage time of 12 months is best for taste and quality. The quality of the frozen summer squash is maintained best in a very cold freezer (deep freezer), and one that keeps them frozen completely with no thaw cycles. Excluding any air from inside the bags which leads to freezer burn, by using vacuum-sealed bags, is also important to maintaining quality

To later use the squash

Any frozen vegetable will be mushy when thawed, so obviously it's best to use in cooking, rather than attempting to use it raw.

You can let it thaw in the refrigerator, the microwave's defrost setting or just add t frozen to cooking.

I like to use it as a sautéed vegetable, so I partially thaw it, then sautee it in a pan with onions, red peppers and some seasoning (like Mrs. Dash or Herbes d' Provence)

Tips:

  • Harvest the squash at its peak maturity (firm, not limp or old)
  • Process promptly after harvesting, or keep cooled in the fridge or with ice until then.
  • If the squash is watery when thawed, discard the liquid before using.
  • An alternative method is to cook the squash first - using your favorite recipe for a zucchini casserole, or sautéed squash, etc., and then simply freeze the cooked squash!  Of course, it does take up more room in your freezer.

I love the FoodSavers (see this page for more information) with their vacuum sealing!  Here's an example of one model:

FoodSaver V2840 Advanced Design

This one is the least expensive of the Food Saver models that has all the advamced features, like automatic bag detection and sealing, which makes it faster and easier to seal.  And yes, you can seal and freeze foods with liquids (just freeze the unsealed bag in the freezer overnight, THEN seal it!)

About $135
4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews 

Features

  • Home vacuum-packaging system vacuums, seals, and shuts off automatically
  • Upright vacuum-sealing appliance with SmartSeal technology keeps food fresh longer
  • Push-button operation; built-in roll storage and cutter; automatic liquid detection
  • Crush-free instant seal; 2 vacuum speeds; 2 seal levels; progress lights; integrated bag opener
  • Marinate and canister modes; includes 3 quart-size bags, 2 gallon-size bags, and a roll of bag material
  • Measures approximately 6 by 18-8/9 by 10-2/5 inches; 1-year limited warranty

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How long can they be frozen?

    It depends upon how cold is your freezer and how you packed them.  Colder (deep freezes) are better than frost free compartments, which actually cycle above freezing (that's how they melt the ice).  Vacuum packing results in longer storage capability, too.  Thicker bags also help prevent freezer burn.

    In general, up to 9 months in a ziploc bag in an ordinary freezer, and 14 months in a deep freeze in a vacuum packed bag.  After that, they beans won't make you sick; they just won't taste a s good.
     
  2. Hi, I have a question about yellow squash. I am a newby to growing gardens but last year I did as said about the yellow squash (to freeze it). I have a vacuum sealer (love it). But when I pulled a package of squash out to eat it, it was so soggy. I also tried blanching for about a minute but it was all the same. When I take it out of the freezer I just warm the whole bag in water then open it. Just soggy. We like to eat it somewhat firm. I was told to just wash it, cut the ends off and freeze it. Is this safe?

    Yes, you can certainly freeze it without blanching. The purpose of blanching prior to freezing is to stop the enzymes that degrade the flavor, it's not for safety. As long as you eat the squash within 4 to 6 months, the flavor should be ok. Freezing without blanching may reducing the sogginess of the of the squash, but I doubt that it will help much. Freezing ruptures the cell walls and that is primarily what causes the sogginess.

    I blanch if I am going to store them for a long time or use it in cooking. If I want to use a vegetable raw, and not keep it frozen for more than a few months, then I skip the blanching, too. But it still nowhere near as crisp as fresh.
     

  3. Why is canning summer squash or zucchini no longer recommended by the USDA?

    Recommendations for canning summer squashes, including zucchini, that appeared in former editions of USDA guides have been withdrawn due to uncertainty about the determination of processing times. Squashes are low-acid vegetables and require pressure canning for a known period of time that will destroy the bacteria that cause botulism. Documentation for the previous processing times cannot be found, and reports that are available do not support the old process. Slices or cubes of cooked summer squash will get quite soft and pack tightly into the jars. The amount of squash filled into a jar will affect the heating pattern in that jar. It is best to freeze or pickle summer squashes, but they may also be dried.

     



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