Six Ways to Preserve Zucchini

zucchini at Root Mass Farm stand

According to my parents, I have been a good eater from day one. My first sentence was, “more mayonnaise, please” and the first thing I learned to spell was “i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m.” Until it got too long, my mom kept a running list in my baby book of the foods I’d eaten and enjoyed. At a year old, my favorite foods were yogurt, bananas, cottage cheese, cheerios and plain steamed zucchini. Thirty-two years later, I still eat every single one of those items with some regularity. And I adore zucchini.

zucchini spread

One of the things I love about zucchini (and really, any other summer squash), is its intense versatility. This time of year, people begin to complain about the influx of squash and how tired of it, but how can you be weary of something that can do so many different things and do them well?

My favorite squash application is one I learned from my friend Lucy, many years ago. You cube up several pounds of zucchini or yellow squash, combine it with olive oil, butter, garlic and a few herbs and cook it down until it has reduced by more than half. What you’re left with is a deeply flavorful, creamy spread. I eat it on toast, serve it at parties and smear it on homemade pizza. It freezes well and does an incredible job at taking a mountain of zucchini and making it feel manageable. Here’s an organized recipe for this spread.

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One thing I hear frequently from new picklers is how disappointed they are with the texture of their water bath processed cucumber pickles. And I can understand this, because I don’t always love the spongy texture that cucumbers can acquire when exposed to heat (these days, I tend to stick mainly to refrigerator pickles when it comes to preserving cucumbers). However, I do like the flavor of a dill pickle come January and so I’ve taken to turning to zucchini instead of the traditional cuke. It holds its texture better and tastes awfully nice.

zucchini with personality

Another way I preserve summer squash is by turning it into a relish. You won’t find the recipe here on the blog because I saved it for the cookbook, but happily, Aimee made it for a piece on Simple Bites a few weeks back, so  you can check it out even if you don’t have my little cookbook. It’s good on hot dogs, tasty with cheesy toast and stirs into tuna salad just as well as the cucumber version does.

curried zucchini pickles

The last pickle pieces I wrote for Serious Eats before hanging up my In a Pickle hat was all about zucchini pickles with curry. This is a tasty and popular way to put up a zucchini abundance for later in the year.

shredded zucchini

Of course, if you’re pressed for time and can’t spare the moments it takes to make even the most simple pickle, shred that summer squash, measure the shreds into two-cup portions and freeze them. You can bake with it, use it in soups or make zucchini fritters when the days are short and chilly.

chocolate zucchini bread

This summer’s favorite zucchini preservation method has been chocolate zucchini bread. I make it so it’s just barely sweet. To serve, I toast up a slice and drizzle just a little bit of honey over top. I have three small loaves in the freezer, ready for a day when I need a bit of a treat. The recipe for that bread is at the bottom of this post.

How do you preserve zucchini and other summer squashes?

Six Ways to Preserve Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini (pack it tight)
  • 2 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two loaf pans and set aside.
  2. Beat together the eggs, butter, mashed banana, honey, brown sugar and vanilla. Once integrated, stir shredded zucchini into the wet ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Gently whisk until fully integrated.
  4. Add the dry ingredient to the wet in three batches, stirring well to integrate before adding more.
  5. Once batter is mixed, divide it equally between the two prepared pans.
  6. Bake for 60-75 minutes, until the loaves are baked through and a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Eat within 3-4 days or wrap in several layers of plastic and freeze.
https://foodinjars.com/blog/six-ways-to-preserve-zucchini/

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111 responses to “Six Ways to Preserve Zucchini”

  1. This is my second summer gardening and I *still* haven’t had a bumper squash season. How can that be? No matter, the farmers markets are bursting. I love zucchini all ways (that might be why I never feel like I’ve had too much – it’s always my first choice) and these suggestions sound awesome! I can’t wait to try them. Zucchini fritters are one of my favorites – I’m really thrilled to hear that they can be made from frozen squash.

    • What is up with your squash/zucchini? Does it seem to be growing well and then all-of-a-sudden flop? I used to have that problem and it was squash vine borer. What I found was that if I used started plants rather than planting seeds I could get the plants going ahead of the bugs. Eventually the bugs come in so the other thing to do is plant in succession. Plant a plant or two every 2 weeks. That should keep them going. Also, don’t plant them too close together and try to water at the bottom. They can also get mildewy.

      • Ugh, squash vine borers have been the bane of my summer! If the stems of your zucchini have really gross shredded stuff falling out of them, and holes in them, and it smells funny, you have squash vine borers. As an organic gardener, the only thing you can really do, besides trying to avoid them, is to slice open the stem and pull the larvae out, and then cover the stems up with dirt and hope they make new roots. Too gross! Some of mine are recovering, but not going crazy like they were in the beginning of the summer. Good luck!

  2. I am sooooooooo making that zuchinni spread. My friends think I’m crazy but I adore zuchinni. My mom loved it and we grew up growing it in our backyard!

  3. I’ve been sliceing them really thin and dehydrating them with spices even put some sliced jalopeno on them they are really wonderful chips!

  4. Love your zucchini ideas. That spread sounds delicious. This year I found a recipe that uses zucchini “milk” (basically, zucchini that you dice up then blenderize until it’s good and soupy). You put it in yeast rolls and there’s no visible trace of the zucchini, but it just plain tastes good. I think the recipe came from an issue of Mother Earth News. You can also freeze the zucchini milk, so come Jan. or Feb. you can make more of the rolls up fresh.

  5. So timely! The zucchini vine I thought had given up blessed us with a pair of small baseball bats this week…Never underestimate that plant! Now I can quit staring at them, and decide what to do.
    Had to laugh at the first word you ever learned to spell…I still remember my mother spelling it out over the head of my then-four year old daughter, only to have her shout, “I want Ice Cream!”

  6. I think we have 6 loaves and maybe 5 dozen muffins of zucchini bread in the freezer. My picky boy does not eat vegetables but he loves zucchini bread so I make a ton when the zucchini getting is good.

  7. I got lots and lots of zucchini and yellow summer squash from the garden this year. I made several batches of Summer Squash Pickles from the recipe in the Ball Home Preserving book. They come out a little sweet but very tasty. They are also a really great shade of yellow in the jar–very pretty looking.

    Marisa, I just have to tell you that this past weekend I made your nectarine-lime jam from the book and it was fabulous. I love lime and that jam is really great. I think it’s my new favorite!

  8. My latest favorite way of preserving zucchini is by freezing up batches of Jim Lahey’s zucchini pizza. I up the amount of shredded zukes to 3 pounds, and increase the amount of cheese (I use provolone) to compensate; also marjoram and savory are nice herbs to add. Come winter, we pop a couple of slices to go with steaming bowls of tomato soup, home canned of course!

  9. I ALWAYS use zucchini for pickles – I hate the ones made with cucumbers for the very reason you mentioned – too soft and the centers fall out! But zucchinis hold their shape beautifully and come out of the jar perfect and delicious. I cannot WAIT to try the zucchini relish!!

  10. You are so right! I’d given up on zucchini many years ago after a never-ending backyard crop. This is my inspiration to get back to it all over again. Can’t wait to try the spread – and make some great zucchini bread. Thanks for reviving me!

  11. Oh my that spread looks delish! I’ve got to make and freeze what I can’t eat.

    When I have excess zucchini I cut it into chunks (about the size of an ice cube) and freeze. Then I use in smoothies as the frozen ingredient. Pretty pale green color and not vegetable tasting at all.

    • Mary, what a super idea! I jumped up from the computer and chunked up a couple zucchini and popped them in the freezer in a ziplock. Can’t wait to try ’em in smoothies 🙂 Thank you.

  12. Saw this link on a friend’s Facebook page just as I was wondering what to do with all the zucchini. I’d shredded and frozen a lot yesterday, but on seeing this today I went right ahead and made the spread and the chocolate bread. Absolutely wonderful. From now on there is no such thing as ‘too much zucchini’!

  13. The ladies in Romania make a vegetable spread with eggplant, red and green peppers, mushrooms, etc. You can find the, “zacusca” recipe on google. All the ladies are in the markets buying and roasting all the vegetables for winter recipes. Delicious!!!

  14. I love freezing shredded zucchini! I always do that! My husband thinks I should freeze the zucchini bread but I think there’s nothing better than bread out of the oven rather than soggy post-frozen bread. I have used the shreds for fritters as well..topped with my frozen pesto!! Try it!

  15. My kids just brought 4 zucchinis to their teachers today, because, well, it’s August and you know….

    I love zucchini cubed and roasted until the outsides are brown crispy and the insides are marshmallowy soft. Sometimes I blend the roasted zukes into a lovely dip with nuts and olive oil, lemon and garlic.

    I also like zucchini peeled with a vegetable peeler and marinated and served as a cold salad with dried fruit and arugula.

  16. Like Debbie above, I dehydrate zucchini. Makes great snacks; someone told me you can reconstitute it and use in recipes, but I’ve never tried that because we love our zucchini chips.

  17. Agree with others, love zucc bread/muffins and bread-and-butter zucchini pickles. I don’t bother with cuke B&B’s anymore. Also make a chunky zucc chutney (no curry in this one): http://www.examiner.com/article/small-batch-zucchini-chutney-recipe-is-an-easy-to-make-vegetable-relish. Through winter we always have a rotating selection of relish for burgers.

    Also into drying zucc, summer squash, eggplant, and tomatoes. Steam blanch or grill the slices before drying. Dry zucc slices to use in a gratin (layered with other veggies if you wish) or moussaka (instead of eggplant). Or, hollow out zucc boats, steam them, and stuff with meat/grain/veg filling and top with sauce (usually mariana)–freeze these for an easy pop-in-the-oven dinner.

  18. I made the curried pickles when I had a glut earlier in the summer and needed something new to do with it- they are terrific.
    I am looking forward to trying that spread next time I run short of ideas.

  19. That zucchini spread sounds A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I will definitely have to try it – although I may veganize it. Put it on top of some garlic-rubbed baguette and add some carmelized leeks on top and you would have a really flavorful twist on bruschetta. Might give it a go this weekend…

  20. I am always on the look-out for the recipes of breads or recipes involving chocolate – this looks great, especially considering my mother-in-law’s harvest of zucchini this year. Bookmarking it. You have an amazingly beautiful site focused on a very useful niche in the world of food blogs.

  21. This is so handy! I too, love zucchini, but can never find the time to process the abundance that is offered to me this time of year. I love the idea of zucchini pickles! Thanks for sharing!!

  22. I’m making that chocolate zucchini bread this weekend if it doesn’t get too hot! That zucchini with personality picture is adorable. The quote is cut off. Can I get the rest of it?

  23. I brought home 18 2-cup bags of grated zucchini last weekend from my mother-in-law’s garden (along with other canned goodies we made) and have been baking lots of bread since. When I saw your recipe yesterday I immediately made it. However I think it might be missing 1 teaspoon of baking soda (or something similar). It got no rise. Most recipes I’ve been using have both baking soda AND baking powder and other chocolate zucchini recipes have both as well. Can you double check your recipe please? I appreciate a “lower sugar” recipe! Other zucchini breads are really cakes masquerading as bread.

      • The good news it that without the baking soda it came out really fudgy – almost like a brownie. It still tasted fabulous and we gobbled up one loaf already. I added one cup of walnuts because it isn’t zucchini bread without them. I’m dreaming of adding orange peel and mini-chocolate chips to really dress it up.

    • Ashley, Serious Eats pays their contributors very, very little. I spent hours on the posts I wrote for them and couldn’t afford to do it anymore.

  24. i do enjoy zucchini pickles, but my favorite way to preserve zucchini is dehydrating it. i generally do it with those giant overgrown ones, cutting them in 4th’s lengthwise, then in 1/2-3/4″ thick slices. they are so versatile in the winter for soups and things and i find that the texture is firmer once they are re-hydrated (i.e., not so mushy as fresh), which i like, and they take on the flavor of the broth.

  25. I just made the zucchini spread, Marisa, and it is amazing! Not all of it would fit in the container I chose, so I just had to eat the remaining 1/2 cup out of the pan with a spoon. Already dreaming of it with toast and eggs tomorrow morning…

  26. Marisa, I am really excited to try your bread and freeze it. I have a friend that freezes 52 loaves of sweet bread for Christmas presents and she wraps them in wax paper then foil. She bakes them all the day after Thanksgiving. I used to wrap them in plastic and I always seemed to have issues with freezer burn, but not anymore. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  27. I picked the mother of all Zucchini’s today. It was huge.
    Well, I wont jar that one, but I stumbled across this site whilst trying to work out what I do with the rest of them. You have some great ideas. Thank you very much for sharing.
    I love your smileys on the Zucchini’s . hahaha

    Anyway, thinking about roasting a few on the BBQ, then preserving.
    Anyone got ideas?

  28. The only preservation method you’ve listed that I have yet to try is Dill Pickles, and I’m in love with all of them. I love what you do. Of all my canning and preservation resources I turn to your blog and book most often. Thank you for your hard work!

  29. I cut mine once lengthwise and then slice it and dehydrate it. Put it in a caning jar and vacuum seal it with my food saver attachment. Then I can use it in soups all winter long!

  30. Chiming in super-late, but I just found this recipe and have added it to the must-make list. My husband isn’t a pickle fanatic like I am, and most recipes are simply too large, but 4 pints is perfect–and goodness knows I have the squash, or will in a few days. I grew Lebanese kouza this year rather than the dark green zucchini, but it seems to work the same in everything else, so I’m blithely assuming it will for this recipe.

    • Teresa, I have seen several Zucchini pickle recipes that put the Zucchini into the brine and bring it back to a boil. Is it nessessary to do this. Please let me know…………….Bill

  31. Is there anyway to pressure can the zucchini butter? I have your cookbook (yeah) and just got a pressure canner for Christmas (double yeah). I appreciate your insight.

    P.S. I gave away jars of tomato jam for Christmas. I heard through the grapevine there’s kind of a black market for it amongst my friends 🙂

      • Really? Zucc butter can’t be canned? I would think that if you added enough acid, like vinegar or lemon juice, it would be just fine.

        • You would need to add SO much vinegar or lemon juice that it would completely change the flavor profile. Zucchini is very low in acid to start.

          • Pressure canning does not need an acidic level. I pressure can veggies (ie carrots, corn, etc) in just straight water. It’s what it’s designed for. I’ve also pressure canned chicken noodle soup and plain chicken/turkey broth. There are endless possibilities when you pressure can.

        • You can can anything in a pressure canner, without vinegar or lemon, i have canned my homaade chili, soup, beans all kinds of stuff.

    • leave the oil out and add when you open it. The oil is less likely to go rancid, the jars will clean better. Rather than white wine, what about Sherry or Marsala? Im psyched to try this recipe!.

  32. Holy Hannah! This zucchini spread is life changing! I made a ton of it over the summer and froze it in little batches for future consumption. As my freezer contents dwindled, I found the little gems lying in wait. I just warmed one up and spread it on a slice of toast. Good heavens, it’s like a little taste of August. Fantastic! Because I have a cheese problem, I added some Pecorino Romano before I froze it. Thank you for sharing this and all your other goodies, Marisa. You’re awesome.

  33. Love LOVE these recipes! I planted a ton of summer squash this year in my first ever garden. I will be starting to can this year for the first time as well. Thank you for sharing. Also, I am excited to read your canning for beginners. I have a lot to learn! 🙂

  34. Is the Zucchini Spread freezable if it’s made in advance? Looking for zucchini recipes that are freezable.
    Thanks!

  35. Regarding the storage of zucchini; I love dehydrating the variety I have this year: spineless perfection. It is sweet, creamy and nearly seedless . Sprinkled w/ a little sea salt or garlic, it is even better. yum

  36. Does anyone know if the zuchinni spread can be ‘canned’. I live overseas, and this looks WONDERFUL, but I have so much zuchinni and I’m looking for a way to ‘can’ that wonderful spread recipe??? Any ideas? Thanks so much.

  37. Have been using and loving your recipes all summer! Regarding zucchini, if I roast it in chunks with onions, garlic and olive oil, can I then freeze it? (Soup base!)

    • Yes. I do this every year. It’s best to get some of the water out of it 1st–just salt it lightly and let sit in a colander for a few hours, then rinse and drain. Large chunks work best, about 2 inches.

  38. I see so many different opinions about garlic, olive oil and canning, even pressure canning. Is it safe to pressure can ANYTHING in olive oil if it was cooked with garlic? I am specifically thinking of a marina recipe that roasts tomatoes, garlic onion, peppers then put in jars and pressure can. Dangerous? Also many recipes I see for zucchini involve olive oil and garlic…..safe???

    Thanks

  39. My garden is producing some amazing zukes, I just did up a batch of the spread (tripled the garlic) and the chocolate zucchini bread. Yummy!

  40. I have a super abundance of zucchini and no freezer space. I love the idea that you can make spreads and relish out of it. However, I would like to can most of it for winter just as is or with minimum herbs as I will be using it to make breads and soups can you help ?

  41. I love, love, love your ideas here. I really want to try the spread, that looks and sounds delicious. I’ll leave some hints for hubby and maybe he’ll stop by the produce stand :-).

    I like how you do Zucchini breads. I always make them sweet like banana bread. I like the idea of making it less sweet, then having the option to sweeten it up with honey.

    Lovely article all around. After I read it, I had to link to it in my canning squash article. Have a great weekend.

    All the best,
    Diana

  42. It’s August and the zucchini is prolific. I’ll be trying some of these recipes over the coming days. Loved the photo!

  43. Just recently found your zucchini spread recipe on pinterest, made it today and it’s amazing!! Curious if you think shredding the zucchini instead of cubing it would work the same? Mine seemed a little more chunky than the picture shows.

  44. Google Zucchini Salsa… made a batch of it and CANNED it and it’s great… easy to make.. tastes good.. A little spicy if made as the recipe calls for… this recipe says it’s for 10 – 12 pints, but I actually got 14.
    ZUCCHINI SALSA
    10c Peeled Shredded Zucchini
    4 onions chopped
    2 green AND 2 red sweet bell peppers, chopped
    1/4 c AND 1 t. Pickling Salt
    2 T Dry Mustard
    1 T Garlic Powder
    5 c Chopped Ripe Tomatoes
    12 oz. can Tomato Paste
    1 T Cumin
    2 c White Vinegar
    1 c Brown Sugar
    2 T Red Pepper Flakes (use less for milder salsa)
    1 t Nutmeg
    1 t. Black Pepper
    2 T Cornstarch

    Day one — Mix in large bowl Zucchini, onions, green and red sweet peppers (bell peppers) and 1/4 c salt. Let stand overnight.

    Day two — Rinse well, drain, and put in large pot, then add remaining ingredients.
    Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 min.
    Pour into Sterilized Jars & seal (they should seal without further work)
    Water bath for 15 min. if they have not sealed properly.

    • You are the first person to ever ask me that. I really don’t know. I’d be afraid that it would get really slimy upon defrosting.

  45. I’m looking for your recipe for squash/zucchini spread. The link to Philly Homegrown (from your post) doesn’t point to it. I’ve searched your site, and must try it!!! Can you post link?

    • Oh no! Looks like they took that site down. Here’s the recipe.

      Zucchini Butter
      Makes 2 half pints
      3 tablespoons olive oil
      1 tablespoon butter
      5 garlic cloves, gently smashed
      2 large zucchini, cut into a 1/2 inch/5 cm cubes (about 2 pounds/910 g)
      5-6 springs of thyme
      1/2 teaspoon finely milled sea salt
      1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
      Place a large skillet over medium heat. Place the olive oil and butter and allow them to melt together. Roughly chop the smashed garlic and add it to the pan. Add the zucchini cubes. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the zucchini has begun to soften. Strip the thyme leaves off their stems and add them to the pan.
      Reduce the heat and continue to cook, stirring often. The goal is to cook the liquid out of the zucchini and melt it into a flavorful, spreadable paste. If at any point, the zucchini starts to brown and stick, add a splash of liquid (water is fine, though if you have an open bottle, a little white wine is also delicious) and reduce the heat a bit more. Total cooking time should be right around an hour.
      Once cooked, divide the spread between two half pint jars. It will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge or a year in the freezer.

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