With the arrival of summer zucchini becomes queen of the table: healthy, light and delicious, this vegetable is perfect for all your warm-weather recipes. Whether it be raw, julienned, grilled or stuffed, zucchini is a versatile ingredient that pairs well with many foods. But how can you preserve the taste of summer year round?
We at Fine Dining Lovers have put together a small handbook of tips and recipes to help you preserve zucchini so you can enjoy it long after summer is gone.
This summer squash, also known as courgette in Europe, is very low in calories and carbohydrates, making it a favorite vegetable of those who follow a paleo lifestyle.
One cup of zucchini contains just 20 calories and virtually no fat. This veggie is also rich in vitamin C (make sure to keep the skin on) and vitamins K and B6. It is also a good source of potassium and manganese.
Zucchini blossoms are edible and also rich in vitamin C so don't miss out on these recipes.
HOW TO PRESERVE ZUCCHINI
Preserving zucchini for the winter is a breeze whether it be in oil, dried, frozen or pickled. Zucchini preserved in oil is an excellent (and lustful) appetizer when served with a slice of cheese. A few slices of pickled zucchini can be a lifesaver, while frozen zucchini will make you feel like summer never ended, especially on gloomy days.
Let's take a look at the best methods to preserve zucchini for the winter:
HOW TO PRESERVE ZUCCHINI IN OIL
As you may already know, anything preserved in a generous dose of extra virgin olive oil always has another layer of flavor.
To preserve zucchini in oil, equip yourself with at least 1 kg of courgettes, jars with a hermetic seal (there are some beautiful ones around), extra virgin olive oil, 500 ml of white wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, 3-4 garlic cloves, and herbs (we recommend mint, for an even more intense and summery aroma). If you love the spicy side of life instead, also include 2-3 dried peppers.
Here's how to conserve zucchini in oil: wash the zucchini, remove the ends and cut into strips with the help of a potato peeler. Meanwhile bring the vinegar to a boil and 500 ml of water, along with a pinch of salt; when it has come to a boil, add the zucchini and cook for about 7-8 minutes. Then drain and leave to cool on a cotton cloth.
Once the zucchini has cooled, proceed as follows: arrange a layer of zucchini, then a little garlic, mint and chilli. Continue in this order until you have filled the whole jar. Pour enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the entire surface of the jar, then close them.
To seal your zucchini preserves: put a cotton cloth in a pot, put the jars on top, cover everything with water and bring to a boil, letting it cook for about 40 minutes. Turn off and let it cool. Remember: allow the jars to rest at least a month before opening. Store in the refrigerator once opened.
HOW TO FREEZE ZUCCHINI
Do you want to freeze courgettes, but do not know how to avoid a giant frozen mass that's impossible to separate? Well, start by washing the courgettes and drying them carefully. Remove the ends and cut them into rounds or cubes.
Place the pieces on a tray and let the zucchini freeze for 8-10 hours. Once the courgettes are frozen, divide them into food bags, which, once filled according to the desired quantity, can be stored in the freezer without any problems.
Another method to freeze the courgettes is to scald them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and quickly submerge in a bowl of ice water with ice cubes: this procedure is known as blanching and will allow the zucchini to retain its characteristic bright green color.
HOW TO PRESERVE ZUCCHINI IN A BRINE
If you Mediterranean flavors and you are a fan of sweet and sour flavors, then you'll enjoy pickled zucchini. The process, very similar to the one used to preserve zucchini in oil, calls for cooking the zucchini in a vinegar-based brine.
Here is what you will need to pickle zucchini:
- 1kg (2.2 lbs) of zucchini
- 500ml of white wine vinegar
- 160g (1 cup + 3 tbsp) of granulated sugar
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 teaspoon of fine salt
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the jar
- herbs of your choice (marjoram, mint, bay leaf, etc.)
- a sterilized glass jar
Start by washing, drying and cutting the zucchini into rounds. Pour vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar has melted. Then add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and cook for 8 minutes. Once the cooking time has elapsed, add the zucchini and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the zucchini has cooled, proceed as follows: alternate the zucchini in layers with the herbs of your choice and a few tablespoons of cooking liquid. Finish by pouring the remaining liquid in the jar and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Then close the jar tightly and store in the refrigerator.