Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Our garden is producing like mad! We're starting to take bits home for daily use (and have been eating lettuce for a month) , but when the zucchinis were ready more drastic measures were called for. These are considered medium and medium-large for Alaskan gardens.

Yeah, gotta do something with those. That's a lot of zucchini bread!

Rather than try and make the boys eat zucchini for a week (they're not fond of it), I decided to freeze it. Frozen cubed zucchini works really well in anything cooked - spaghetti sauce, soups, stir fry, that kind of thing. So I started chopping. I did a little shredded too, but not a lot because blanching it shredded is a nasty mess.

Add far as food safety is concerned, you can't just toss zucchini in the freezer. The USDA has guidelines for food preservation, tested for bacteria and stuff. They no longer allow you to can zucchini or summer squash. According to my favorite canning site:
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for canning summer squashes, including zucchini, that appeared in former editions of USDA guides have been withdrawn due to uncertainty about the determination of processing times.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.
Good enough for me, we freeze it (freezing takes less storage space, too). The USDA says to blanch it first. Blanching is just cooking the vegetable long enough to kill the bacteria. Too long and you get mushy veggies. not long enough, your food is unsafe. Be sure to use the USDA times and plunge the veggies immediately into icy water to stop the cooking.

They also say to leave a half-inch headspace in your freezer containers. Headspace is the space left at the top of a food preservation container. I finally thought to ask "why is the headspace measurement so important?", especially since I had to make sure it was right when I put my jam in the Fair.

Headspace, it says here, is necessary for the correct vacuum and sealing of your containers. Too little and the product can expand and the top won't seal. Too much and the air won't be driven out of the jar, leaving room for bacteria and discoloration. Since the Foodsaver sucks all the air out, that's not a problem here.

So I chopped and blanched and packed and marked and froze. The whole thing took me about an hour including getting everything set up. The results were 22 cups of chopped and shredded zucchini! I froze them in two cup packages, 'cause that's a nice size for most soups and such and coincidentally, the amount of shredded zucchini my zucchini bread recipes use. For shreds, be sure to measure before you blanch. When you thaw it to bake with it, just drain off any excess liquid before you use it and trust that was really two cups.

And this is just the beggining. We put only one zucchini plant in the garden, because the year we had three we had more zucchini than we could reasonably eat. This plant is far from done yet, there's a half-dozen more zucchinis growing, and more flowers!

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails