Back-yard gardeners who grow zucchini and yellow summer squash often have more than they can possibly eat. The prolific summer squashes can be used in so many different dishes, that it's a shame to think about giving the extras away. But neighbors without gardens will appreciate your generosity.
If you buy zucchini — a type of summer squash — or yellow squash at the farmers market, choose small (about 6 to 8 inches long) and tender ones because both skin and seeds are eaten. The peel is antioxidant-rich.
To store fresh summer squash, place it unwashed in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Wash the squash just before preparation. The storage life of summer squash is brief, so use it within two to three days.
Summer squashes have a mild flavor and pair well with a variety of herbs and seasonings. Because it is so versatile, freeze as many as possible to use during the winter.
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To freeze zucchini and summer squash for use in soups and casseroles, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place in boiling water for 2 minutes, remove and plunge in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well and pat dry between layers of paper towel. Place in freezer bags, label and freeze.
If you want to make zucchini muffins and quick breads, shred the zucchini first. Make sure the zucchini is blemish-free and rinse it well under cold water. Do not peel. Once shredded, portion out the zucchini in the amounts you need for your recipes. Place it in freezer bags, squeezing all the air out and pressing the bags flat. Label and date. Sliced or shredded zucchini keeps about 10 months in the freezer.
Before using shredded zucchini in muffins or quick breads (most bakers prefer zucchini), thaw it and pat it dry between several layers of paper towel on a dish. Let stand about 10 minutes and press down again, squeezing out as much moisture as you can.
Shredded zucchini also is great for making pancakes, and zucchini and summer squash are great for tossing with hot pasta.
According to Cooks Illustrated, you can seed larger zucchini and summer squash by rolling the vegetable and applying slight pressure with the palms of your hands to soften the insides and loosen the seeds. Then halve the vegetable lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon.