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Once you’re into the taste of Zucchini noodles as a low-carb and gluten-free substitute for regular pasta, there’s just no going back. It’s one of those vegetables you want to have in your kitchen all the time. But unfortunately, even though Zucchini grows prolifically in the summers, it won’t be around all year. The solution: freeze it!
Can you freeze Zucchini noodles? Yes! All you need to do is to cut your Zucchini in the shape you plan to use it in (noodles, in this case), blanch it (optional), dry it, and pop it into freezer bags. You can store the bags in your freezer for up to 10 – 12 months, meaning a whole year!
There are some things you need to take care of though, and some tips and tricks which can help you preserve it in better shape.
Just read this guide end-to-end to see the whole procedure, complete with dos and don’ts.
Should you freeze Zucchini noodles?
The pros are obvious. You don’t want to waste all that Zucchini growing abundantly in your garden during the summers, and there’s only so much you can eat at a time. So, to have a supply of your favorite Zucchini noodles (or zoodles, as we call them) in your kitchen when Zucchini is out-of-season, you can store ample of it in your freezer.
How does it affect the flavor and texture?
You won’t notice much difference in taste, however, frozen-and-thawed zoodles are not the same in texture as fresh ones. You will not get the crisp, firm texture that you have with fresh Zucchini, even if you blanch it before freezing.
When you take it out and thaw it, the Zucchini will be a bit soft and mushy, no matter how well you prepped it. But, unless you plan on eating it raw and solid (like in a salad), the texture won’t bother you at all.
If you add the zoodles to soup, stew, smoothies, muffins, or zucchini bread, you won’t be able to tell the difference between fresh and frozen.
For pasta dishes and spaghetti, you will feel some difference in texture, and we must warn you that frozen zucchini noodles aren’t an exact substitute for fresh ones in pasta.
Also, the longer you freeze, the more texture and taste you are likely to lose.
How long can you keep Zucchini noodles in the freezer?
You can freeze your Zucchini noodles even up to 12 months i.e., a whole year. But as we mentioned earlier, freezer burn will cause them to lose more flavor and crispiness the longer you keep them frozen.
It is recommended to eat them as soon as possible. Taking them out within 3 – 4 months is ideal.
How to prepare for freezing
You can’t just shove a whole Zucchini into the freezer. Not only will that take up more space, but it will be very hard to thaw such a big lump later on. It will also lead to poor, uneven freezing and hence the taste and texture will not be preserved to its best.
To freeze your Zucchini noodles properly, you must first prepare them for freezing. Following are the steps you should follow. We’ll mention which ones are optional, although it’s recommended to do all of them.
1. Selecting zucchini for freezing
Start by selecting the right zucchini. Choose ones which are young, firm, and slim. Make sure that the zucchini looks plump, bright, and healthy. It shouldn’t have discoloration, wrinkles, soft spots, or any areas which have gone bad.
It is best to freeze freshly harvested zucchini, or that which was harvested up to 3 days ago. Wash it off under cold water to remove any dirt or chemicals on the surface.
2. Spiralize your zucchini
As long as you didn’t get your zucchini in noodle-form readymade from the market, you will have to spiralize it yourself. Use a spiralizer to cut up the zucchini into noodles (there’s no need to peel the zucchini but you can if you like).
You should prepare your zucchini in the form you eventually plan to cook it in. Some people also freeze it in slices, cubes, or in a shredded form.
Can you freeze zoodles without blanching them? Yes, you can. Luckily for zucchini, unlike vegetables like corn and green beans, blanching doesn’t make that much of a difference in freezing results.
Blanching means slightly cooking vegetables in boiling water for a very short time, in order to deactivate the enzymes that will cause them to lose their texture and flavor. It also kills bacteria and other microbes on the surface.
Without blanching, the zucchini can become discolored and soft faster. However, the difference isn’t great. Blanching zucchini noodles will only preserve their quality 10 – 15 % better than if you were to skip this step completely.
So, ultimately, it’s up to you and how much time you have. We highly recommend you do this step to obtain better end results.
Steps for blanching:
- Bring some water to boil in a pot. While it comes to boil, get some ice from the freezer, and prepare an ice bath (ice plus water) in another container.
- Drop the zucchini noodles into boiling water and blanch for 60 seconds. A minute or so will do the trick – don’t overcook it!
- Take the zucchini noodles out with a mesh strainer and directly put them into the ice water bath for a few minutes to stop them cooking.
- Drain the water and dry the zoodles.
The drying step is important if you don’t want your zoodles to come out looking like a mushy, watery mess when you thaw them. Even leaving the noodles slightly wet can result in the water droplets and moisture freezing as ice flakes.
An optional step that some people do before drying is to add kosher salt. The salt is to preserve the texture of the zoodles better while frozen. You should add about 1 tbsp of kosher salt for every 2 cups of zucchini noodles.
Next you should turn and stir your zoodles so that the salt is well mixed. Keep kneading and turning the noodles over gently (you can do this with your hand), and you will notice moisture seeping out of them. Keep doing this for 2 – 3 minutes till all the water bubbles out and the zoodles feel firm and tough.
Drain all the water out and place the zoodles on an absorbent towel. You can also make a little bag with the towel and squeeze it to wring the excess water out for good. The drier your zoodles, the better they’ll taste later!
Then leave the zoodles to dry on the towel for at least an hour before proceeding further. Once your zoodles are completely dry, it’s time to freeze them.
How to freeze Zucchini noodles
Now that your zoodles are spiralized, blanched, and dried, we can move on to the actual freezing part.
You can choose to move on to the part where you put your noodles into Ziploc bags, but if you have time, it is recommended to follow this two-step freezing process for better results. You don’t want the Zucchini to freeze up in a solid, bundled up, ice cube, especially if you plan on freezing in a loose container instead of thin bags.
First freeze the zucchini noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet which is lined with a silicon baking mat. Freeze for about 2-3 hours, or however long it takes for them to become solid.
Then scoop the noodles and transfer to the long-term storage container.
We do not recommend storing zoodles in firm jars at all. Ideally, get small, freezer-safe bags like Ziploc freezer bags which can store the zoodles in a compressed form. Put small portions into each bag and spread them out into a thin layer. Press any air out of the bags and seal them.
You can choose to label the bags with their freezing date. Now simply place the compressed, air-tight bags in the freezer and freeze for up to a year (but preferably not longer than 3-5 months).
How to defrost and reheat Zucchini noodles
In dishes where a little moisture or water from the frozen zucchini won’t be a problem, you don’t need to thaw the zucchini at all! Directly toss the frozen zucchini into the stew, soup, or sauce while cooking.
If you dried your zucchini properly enough before freezing, you can even add the frozen shredded zucchini directly to your muffins and quick breads.
However, for dishes like casseroles, where extra moisture isn’t invited, you should first defrost and heat your zoodles separately.
Defrosting and reheating
To thaw your zoodles, you just have to boil them. Bring water to boil in a pot and toss the zoodles in for a couple of minutes. This will defrost, hydrate, and reheat them. Then you can take out the zucchini in a strainer, drain the juice from defrosting, and add the noodles to whatever dish you are cooking.
Other ways of storing zucchini noodles
You can store zucchini in other containers like glass jars. However, it will make the thawing process more time consuming. To keep the noodle strands separate, it’s best to use compressed freezer bags.
Removing air and keeping your zoodles compressed is important for better freezing results and longer freezing times.
You can squeeze the air out of a bag, but not a jar. The bags also make it convenient to retrieve the zucchini in small portions, only as much as you need at a time.
Can you refreeze zucchini noodles?
Technically, you can, if you haven’t already frozen them for too long. However, repeating the whole drying-freezing-thawing process would seriously deteriorate the flavor and texture. That’s why we recommend only freezing your zoodles in small bags so you can take out as much as you need and not have to refreeze it after thawing.