Are you knee deep in an abundance of zucchini this summer? Don’t toss them out. Zucchini is a versatile squash that can be used in a variety of ways including desserts, breads, side dishes, soups and more. Plus it can be easily preserved to use throughout the winter months. Discover our 6 favorite ways to use up extra zucchini.
I did it again.
The last couple of years, my two zucchini seeds somehow turn into a dozen zucchini plants and by mid summer I am overwhelmed with an abundance of zucchini. And if I’m not careful, I can easily get a few baseball bat size zucchinis.
Sure, I can sauté some zucchini and onions with a dash of salt and pepper for dinner but after a few servings of it, my husband and I feel we need a little more variety in our lives.
Heaven knows I cannot let the garden fresh zucchini go to waste. So what can I do?
Zucchini for everyone!
Zucchini for the neighbor in the blue house. Zucchini for Dave next door. A zucchini for the older gentleman a few streets over. Two zucchinis for the in-laws. Zucchini for each of our friends. Zucchini for each church member. Zucchinis for all of the kids at the park.
Then again, maybe not.
This green squash can be quite the producer. In order to not drown all of northwest Ohio with our zucchini harvest, I have had to find other ways to use excess zucchini. Through a bit of trial and error over the years, I have discovered the best 6 methods to use zucchini. Everything from creative zucchini recipes to preserving it for consumption throughout the winter months.
How to Use Excess Zucchini
If you have ever felt like you were drowning in a plethora of zucchini from your garden, don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to use up this squash. Try these 6 ideas to use up all of your zucchini.
#1 – Dehydrate Zucchini
The first way to use up an abundance of zucchini and my personal favorite, is to dry the squash with a dehydrator. Not only is this a great way to put your garden zucchini to good use, it is also an excellent way to preserve it until next summer. When you dehydrate the zucchini, you can turn it into a delicious seasoned zucchini chip or leave it as is and use the dehydrated zucchini slices in soup recipes, stews, spaghetti and more.
How to Dehydrate Zucchini
When dehydrating zucchini, select small to medium size squash. If you have large zucchini, save them to make zucchini bread or brownies.
To prepare the zucchini for drying, slice the top stem and the bottom blossom end off. Cutting crosswise, slice your unpeeled zucchini 1/4 inch thick. A mandoline helps to create even, uniform slices but if you don’t have one, a sharp knife will do the trick.
Lay the slices on the dehydrating rack in a single layer and dehydrate at 135° F for about 4-6 hours. The zucchini is done when it is crisp, thin, light and very fragile. No moisture should remain.
To use, the squash can be eaten as an afternoon snack or tossed into your favorite soup or stew. Sliced zucchini takes about 10-15 minutes to rehydrate, depending on how much liquid is in the dish and the temperature you are cooking your meal at.
#2 – Make Zucchini Bread
Baked goods are an excellent way to use up a bumper crop of zucchini. For a sweet treat, I love to turn plain ol’ zucchini into a delicious quick bread. There are hundreds of homemade zucchini bread recipes online. Our favorite two come the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook and The Home Ground Flour Book. In Sue Becker’s pineapple zucchini bread, she uses freshly milled flour, shredded zucchini, plenty of warm spices and a can of pineapple for a scrumptious tropical flavor.
If you have excess zucchini, you can bake up several loaves of zucchini bread to eat now and freeze the extra to consumer later. Or you can shred the squash today and freeze it in one cup proportions to use in future batches of zucchini bread.
#3 – Freeze Zucchini
While most veggies can be preserved in a variety of methods, like canning and fermenting, zucchini is best when fresh, dried or frozen, at least in my opinion. During the peak of summer, when zucchini is growing rapidly, I like to freeze the summer squash to use in recipes during the winter when fresh zucchini is no longer available. Instead of dicing it into small bite size pieces, I have found freezing it into large 3 to 4-inch chunks yields the best results. When I need the squash to bake up a batch of zucchini brownies or serve it alongside roasted chicken, I pull out a few pieces from the freezer bag, thaw them slightly and turn them into a delicious dish.
This year I am using my food processor to shred my zucchini squash, then freezing it in my Souper Cubes to use in zucchini muffins and zucchini bread at a later date.
#4 – Fry Up Zucchini
Is there really any food that isn’t better when fried? Fried chicken, french fries and chicken fried steak are certainly common fried favorites. And all dishes my family loves to make for supper. But have you ever had fried zucchini? On nights that I am serving a low fat, no carb type of meal, I break out the mandolin, slice up some zucchini, dip it into a batter and fry them until the zucchini coins are crisp and golden brown. Delectable!
#5 – Cook Zucchini Fritters
The next best thing to fried zucchini are tender zucchini fritters. Grab your food processor or even a box grater to grate the squash into small pieces. Combine with an egg, flour and salt and pepper to create a batter. Scoop the fritters into balls, then slightly smash into small patties. Fry in a small amount of oil. My favorite zucchini fritter recipe is from The Pioneer Woman. Mix it up a bit and toss in some grated carrots or swap the all-purpose flour for some fresh ground hard red wheat flour.
#6 – Spiralize Some Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)
Our very close friend, Liz, is a huge fan of zucchini noodles also known as zoodles. She is on a low-carb diet so instead of eating spaghetti or meatballs with noodles, she uses a spiralizer to turn zucchini into long strands, similar to a normal noodle shape. If you’re in the market for a spiralizer, look for one that requires the least amount of strength to turn the handle. Consider one that is sturdy and is able to stay in place while using.
A mandoline with a julienne blade is an alternative tool to spiralize zucchini into zoodles.
Zoodles don’t just have to be thin and long like angel hair pasta. You can use a sharp knife or mandoline to transform the squash into wide noodles to add to zucchini lasagna.
What is your favorite way to use summer squash? Share in the comment section below.
Summer Recipe Ideas
Check out some of my other favorite summer recipes using seasonal food.