When squash starts to flood our local farmers market, it’s a surefire sign that summer has arrived. Of course, winter varieties like butternut squash are mealtime standbys during the colder seasons, so one need not wait all year to enjoy this sumptuous fruit. (Fun fact: Squash is technically a fruit because it has seeds—weird, right?) Still, summer squash with its fresh and delicate flavor stands out from the cold weather crowd and blends seamlessly into our repertoire of seasonal recipes (hi, skillet pasta with summer squash, ricotta and basil). So when things start to heat up, we trot straight to the farm stand and scoop up as many zukes and squash as we can carry...and sometimes more than we can realistically eat. Sound familiar? Don’t despair—just follow these steps for how to freeze squash so you can cook and bake with those beauties well into the next season.
1. Wash your produce. Get that stash of summer fruit squeaky clean before you do anything else. First, rinse each squash under cold running water, rubbing gently to remove surface dirt. Transfer the washed squash to a cutting board and remove an inch from both ends.
2. Prep the squash. This part requires some forethought: You’ve got a good haul but before you start hacking it up, consider how you’ll cook with it. After freezing, summer squash will take on a slightly different texture—so don’t prep it with the intention of future raw consumption. Instead, keep your cooking options open by cutting the squash into one-inch-thick cubes or slices. Or if you have big baking plans, you might opt to grate your zukes so you can stir ‘em into muffin batter and more.
3. Set up your station. Your squash is prepped and ready to go but don’t head to the freezer just yet. First, those babies need to be blanched. Why? Because the freezer won’t halt the enzymes responsible for ripening (and spoiling), but a quick dip in boiling water will. To set your squash (and yourself) up for success, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Note: You can throw one to two tablespoons of salt into the water—but only if you’ll be using your frozen squash for savory (and not sweet) treats. Finally, prepare an ice bath nearby by filling a large bowl with equal parts of ice and cold water.