How to store zucchini
Zucchini are versatile vegetables. In this blog, we will discuss how to store zucchini for a long time. There are many recipes for delicious and healthy dishes that can be prepared from them. To delight yourself and loved ones with mouth-watering casseroles, pancakes, soups until spring, vegetables must be collected in a timely manner and stored in the right conditions.
What fruits to choose for storage
The main condition for the correct storage of zucchini is the selection of suitable fruits. If you are planting this vegetable in your own garden, it is important to choose the best variety.
Thin-skinned zucchini are not suitable for long-term storage, even under the most ideal conditions. To preserve vegetables for 6–7 months, it is preferable to choose large varieties for planting (about 30–45 cm in length), with a small number of seeds and a fairly thick skin.
By the winter time, the peel of the zucchini of these varieties becomes thick, which allows the vegetables to be stored in excellent condition for a long time. Sometimes it is recommended to give preference to zucchini: they retain their taste and useful properties better and longer.
When planning to store zucchini for a long time, always choose ripe, but not overripe fruits. Ripe vegetables have a thick and dense skin with a color characteristic of this variety. And with a light tapping, a dull sound is heard.
When buying zucchini in a store or in the market, it is sometimes difficult to determine their ripeness. To check a ripe vegetable in front of you or not, pierce the skin with your fingernail. If it does not pierce at all or with difficulty, feel free to buy such a fruit for further storage.
When and how to remove from the garden
Remove the zucchini in the fall, before the first frost hits. Even slightly frozen fruits spoil rather quickly. Remember that vegetables that are overripe, diseased, or damaged or defective cannot be stored.
Use a sharp-bladed knife to cut the stem of the courgette. Do not jerk or break it with your hands. The length of the “tail” should be maximum (not less than 5 cm), the cut should be even. The twisted stalk will begin to exfoliate and rot, which will lead to rapid deterioration of vegetables.
For salads and stewing, you can also use unripe zucchini, when they have a thin skin and very few seeds. But you won’t be able to save them until spring. Although their keeping quality is greater than that of overripe fruits. Therefore, if you know for sure that it will not be possible to remove the zucchini on time, it is better to send unripe fruits for storage than overripe fruits for a very short time.
Preparing vegetables for storage
Zucchini that does not have cracks or other flaws are kept fresh and tasty for a long time. Even slight damage to the skin will cause the fruit to rot quickly. When sending zucchini for storage, be sure to leave the stalk with them.
Gently clean off the dirt from the vegetables, wipe them with a dry cloth and dry in the sun. At the same time, vegetables are never washed before storage. After drying in the sun, the skin will harden, which will increase the shelf life.
Under what conditions to store zucchini
There are several ways to store zucchini. Each of them has its own nuances that must be taken into account so that vegetables do not spoil for a long time.
At room temperature
The shelf life of young zucchini with a thin skin is very short. The fruits, folded in a box, are placed at home in a dry, dark place, for example, under a bed in a room or pantry. At room temperature, they will last only about 2-3 weeks.
Ripe zucchini with a dense skin at home is stored longer – 2-4 months. They do not have to be arranged in boxes or boxes. The fruits cleared of soil and dirt can be stored in the pantry or just under the table in the room at a temperature of + 18 … + 22 ° С.
To effectively keep zucchini at home until spring (for six months), it is recommended to do the following:
- Select whole, ripe courgettes with a hard skin and a stem that is at least 5 cm long.
- Clean the soil and other dirt from the fruit with a dry cloth.
- Place the zucchini in position with the tails up in the drawer, covering the bottom of the drawer with paper. The box can be wooden or plastic, but not with solid walls. It is not necessary to separate the fruits from each other with cardboard partitions, it is better to wrap each loosely with waxed paper, and not to stack the crop close to each other.
- You can put a box in any room, even on an insulated balcony, the main thing is that the temperature does not exceed + 22 ° C and is not low.
In a refrigerator
Longer shelf life for zucchini in the refrigerator. The fruits are wrapped in paper or polyethylene bags with cut holes. So air will flow to the vegetables, and they will not rot. In this form in the refrigerator, they will remain for about 3 months.
In a cellar or basement
A basement or cellar is an excellent place to store zucchini. Therefore, if there is such an opportunity, it is recommended to lower the vegetables for the winter to the basement. Temperature + 4… + 6 ℃ will keep them in excellent condition almost until spring. One important condition is to monitor the humidity in this room. It should not exceed 85%.
Inspect vegetables as often as possible – even in the best conditions, they often rot.
In the basement, you can store zucchini in one of three ways:
- Hanging: put all the fruits separately in nets (gauze bag, nylon stockings, etc.). Hang the nets higher from the ceiling, avoiding their contact with each other. To maintain optimal temperature and humidity, ventilate the area frequently.
- Folded in cardboard boxes: Arrange the vegetables in one layer, separating them from each other with cardboard dividers. Leave the drawer open for air intake.
- Arranged on the shelves: line the shelf with straw or hay and place the zucchini on it so that they do not touch. It is important that the hay or straw is dry.
Can I freeze zucchini
Many housewives resort to freezing zucchini as a storage method. The fruits are washed, peeled from the stalks. Ripe vegetables peel and remove seeds, slightly unripe are processed along with thin skin.
The fact that too young zucchini does not need to be peeled before freezing is their only advantage. When thawed, they become watery, do not keep their shape, therefore, it is better to freeze ripe fruits. They do not lose their taste, the pulp does not creep.
Further cutting of vegetables depends on the preferences of the hostess: if you plan to add zucchini to soup or stew, they are cut into cubes, for frying or cooking snacks – into circles about 10 mm thick.
After the vegetables are chopped, they are evenly laid out on a cutting board or tray and placed in the freezer. After a few hours, they take it out, put it in bags or food containers and send it back to the freezer. Frozen vegetables can be stored until next year’s harvest.
Why check stocks
Even if all the rules are followed, there is no guarantee that the zucchini will remain in a suitable condition for several months of storage. Periodically (once every 1-2 weeks) it is recommended to inspect the fruit. Spoiled vegetables are thrown away immediately so that the rot does not spread to the rest.
It is not necessary to wait for the manifestation of obvious signs in the form of mold or rot. You can identify spoiled zucchini if:
- the skin is covered with dark spots;
- the fruit has become flabby;
- watery deposits or mucus appear on the skin.
Remember, the longer you store zucchini in any way you choose, the less substances that are beneficial to the body remain in them.