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Can You Freeze Dry Zucchini
This is a hearty YES. The preparation is the part that can be varied.
What you’ll see below is freeze dried zucchini in discs. There are a lot of other ways to do them, but as I’ve said before, it comes down to what you’re planning on using them for.
How Do I Cut Zucchini For Freeze Drying?
The many varied ways to cut or prepare zucchini for freeze drying, include (but are not limited to):
- I like this way because I can use them like chips – I dip them in ranch seasoning or seasoned salt before freeze drying, when they’re still damp and kind of sweating.
- These can also be layered in a lasagna or tossed in a soup or casserole.
- I do these NO THINNER than a 1/3 of an inche, but half inch is better. You’ll see at the end of this post just how fragile the freeze dried zucchini form really is.
- I slice them manually because my mandolin cuts entirely too thin to freeze dry. If you have something that will slice them thicker, then definitely do that.
- Any length works for this, kind of like long sticks that might be 1/4 of the zucchini.
- Perfect for later chopping or grinding (see below).
- Best for casseroles.
- Good storage option – in mason jars or bags, if cut appropriately.
Shredded and squeezed of excess moisture:
- Shred and store in plastic bags to make the correct form for the trays or just load it on the trays.
- Great for getting the maximum amount of zucchinis freeze dried.
- Shredded zucchini can be used in zucchini bread, casseroles, ground up and used as zucchini flour (definitely a great option!)
Keep the skin on the zucchini. This helps with keeping the integrity of the zucchini form as well as all of those luscious nutrients locked in the skin.
Don’t pre-cook. This will further compromise the integrity of the zucchini – not the flavor or the nutrients or anything like that, but more the form. Freeze dried raw, the zucchini is already pretty fragile. Precooking can just turn them to powder. Not what you want.
I don’t like to use the ends of the zucchini for freeze drying, but I also don’t like to waste food. I usually put the ends into the compost for my garden.
Can I Stack Zucchini For Freeze Drying?
You bet you can. Here I have it overlapping, but not completely stacked. That’s because I wanted to protect the shape and form of the discs. These discs were going into a lasagna/soup ingredients bin, so I can just grab from the different packages and toss into the pan or casserole dishes. I could grab a package of burger, peppers, corn, tomato sauce, and cheese to go with my zucchini and then toss into a pot for a delicious soup.
You can see the above is the fresh zucchini and below is the freeze dried version. These are like Styrofoam and stiff and warm when they come out of the freeze dryer.
As you can see, seeds work just fine in the zucchini.
Can I Freeze Dry Squash?
Zucchini is part of the squash family and has similar traits as things like the yellow squash. I would consider doing acorn squash, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash without their skins, so they’d need to be prepared before freeze drying.
Zucchinis and squash have a lot of great nutrients: protein, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Niacin, Phosphorus and Copper, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese. These would be a terrific addition to your food storage.
You can see above the fragile state of the freeze dried zucchini. Imagine if the skin wasn’t holding it intact.
How Do I Reconstitute Freeze Dried Zucchini?
Here are some terrific ways I’ve enjoyed freeze dried zucchini in recipes:
- Zoodles and Marinara: Use a spiralizer to create a gluten-free zucchini noodle, or “zoodle,” and freeze dry for later. When you pull out of the packaging use as the base for a cold pasta salad or as the base of a poke bowl. The raw squash tendrils will absorb the moisture they’re tossed in over a matter of only a few minutes and maintain their crunch even when lightly tossed with a vinaigrette or sauce. Handle with care. I do prefer topping them with a simple marinara sauce and having a faux spaghetti when I’m watching my carbs.
- Zucchini fritters: Grate 3 medium zucchini on a box grater, squeeze out excess moisture, and freeze dry. When you’re ready to make the fritters, pull them from the packaging and place in a large bowl. Add 2 eggs, ⅓ cup whole milk ricotta cheese, 2 finely chopped scallions, the zest of 1 lemon, and ½ cup all-purpose flour. Season with salt and black pepper, and mix well to combine. Heat an inch of olive oil in a cast iron skillet, then carefully drop spoonfuls of the batter (flattening slightly) into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes, and repeat on the other side. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate. They’ll absorb the moisture of the eggs and cheese and make for a very nice dish.
- Roasted zucchini: Slice zucchini lengthwise and freeze dry. When you pull them, toss them into a bowl and spritz them with warm water. Let them sit for a few minutes and then drain off any excess water. Then toss them with olive oil, salt, and black pepper before a trip into the oven. Roast at 375°F until just tender and golden brown. Eat as a main dish or a side.
- Sautéed zucchini: Check out the video below on how to sauté freeze dried zucchini in good olive oil with other veggies for a delicious side.
HOW DO I FREEZE DRY ZUCCHINI?
Many people think it’s next to impossible to do the freeze drying for themselves. This is far from factual. Freeze drying at home is made easy by Harvest Right. They sell three different sizes of freeze-drying machines that do everything in the machine – except prep and package.
That’s up to you.
For all intents and purposes, here at Freeze Drying Mama we use the medium sized freeze dryer. You can check out the sizes offered at Harvest Right here.
What this machine does is first freeze the items on stainless steel trays to -41 degrees or lower. This takes about 10 hours or so.
Then a vacuum pump turns on and creates a vacuum inside the drum. This is the drying stage and will vacillate the heat of the tray up and down to a pretty warm temperature. This makes the frozen items release any water in them in vapor form. The vacuum sucks the moisture to the drum. This collects in ice form on the inner circle of the drum.
Then there’s the final dry which is essentially the same thing, but with a time associated with it and an end in sight!
WHAT SETTINGS DO I USE TO FREEZE DRY ZUCCHINI?
On the Harvest Right freeze drier – this works on all sizes – after putting the trays inside the drum on the shelves, I put in the drum cover (if you don’t have a drum cover, no worries) and then tighten the handle as I lock it shut. On the computer touch screen, I selected START > LIQUID > NOT-FROZEN > CONTINUE. After inputting the settings and making sure my drain tube is closed, I walk away.
COMMON QUESTIONS AROUND FREEZE DRYING ZUCCHINI
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FREEZE DRY ZUCCHINI?
I have a habit of saying it’s going to take as long as it takes, because it’s true. Mine typically take about 36 hours (shredded – but that was back in Idaho). I live in Missouri now and things are supposed to be a whole lot more humid. The times haven’t changed much since we got here, though, so I’ll update you as needed. This also depends on how you do your zucchini. I’ve found the discs freeze dry faster than the thickly stacked shredded zucchini. So, long answer short – it’s going to take as long as it takes.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO STORE FREEZE DRIED ZUCCHINI?
Oh, I love this question. Ultimately, I love mylar bags. They’re my favorite way to store anything freeze dried, but a lot of people make great cases for mason jars. As long as you have the item completely freeze dried and stored in a lightless, airless, air tight container with an O2 absorber, your item will be just fine.