Zucchini, classified a summer vegetable, will continue to fruit well into autumn. I have some growing in the garden & currently, the plants are producing prolifically. To purchase, they are cheap & abundant right now. In Australia we can virtually buy whatever fruit & vegetables we like regardless of the season. The problem with this apart from the obvious environmental issues is a degradation of the nutrients due to long refrigeration & travel times. In addition, nature always provides the nutrients that we need, when we need them. Eating seasonally means we are getting what we need in correlation to the thermal nature of the season i.e., hydrating watery fruits & vegetables in summer & warming root vegetables & brassicas that require slower & longer cooking times when we need warming up in the wintertime. Foods in winter tend to be starchier giving us more energy when food is less plentiful. In saying this, preserving the abundance of summer & early autumn is a great way to add a bit more variety to the scarcer months of winter and will provide more nutrition than a zucchini that’s traveled halfway across the country.
Zucchinis are high in beta carotenes, which are protective against cellular damage from the sun. Beta carotene is a fat-soluble nutrient, so it is always best absorbed when consumed with a fat, i.e., olive oil or an egg or goats cheese. In addition, zucchinis provide excellent amounts of the carotenoids lutein & zeaxanthin which are beneficial for vision. As well as vitamin C, magnesium, copper & potassium.
Here are two ways to preserve excess zucchini. One way is to grate it and freeze it, so you can use it later in soups, fritters, frittatas etc. Another way to use up excess zucchinis is to make these bread & butter zucchini pickles, which are great on a cheese board, in a sandwich or on toast with avocado & goats cheese. I make these pickles every year during zucchini season.
Freezing Grated Zucchini
This method uses glass jars or containers as opposed to zip lock bags or plastic containers. Plastic leaches, especially in high or very low temperatures. The micro plastics that leach into the food are carcinogens & endocrine disruptors, increasing the likelihood of cancers, metabolic diseases & fertility issues.
Instructions: Wash and trim the ends of your zucchini.
Use the medium-large grate on your grater to shred your zucchini.
Place in a clean tea towel & squeeze out as much of the water as you can. Place the zucchini in a glass jar, leaving an inch of free space at the top to avoid breakage from expansion. Alternatively, you can use a glass Tupperware container or reusable silicon (made from glass) zip lock bags. Mark the date on the container.
To Use: Remove the zucchini from the freezer and let defrost in the fridge. If needed more quickly, submerge container in a sink full of cool water until zucchini is defrosted.
Bread & Butter Zucchini Pickles
Makes about 4 jars depending on jar size.
*You'll need to have sterilised jars for this recipe. If you have a dishwasher, then that will sterilise them. If not, you can boil them for ten minutes then dry them out in a very low oven.
4 tbsp good quality sea salt
2 cups of organic raw sugar
4 cups of apple cider vinegar
2 tsp of mustard seeds
4 small onions
1 tsp of fennel seeds
1 tsp of caraway seeds
2 tsp of nigella seeds
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zucchini into ribbons. Cut your onions in half, lengthways and then thinly slice them into half rounds. Place in a bowl, add the salt and massage it in, leave for 10 minutes. Meanwhile place the remaining ingredients into a pot and bring to the boil. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for five minutes. Set aside to cool.
Strain your zucchini and onions and rinse well under cold water. Leave them to dry between clean tea towels for five minutes and then pat them as dry as you can. Fill the jars with the zucchini, onions and pickling liquid. They're best left for at least 24 hrs but they're still pretty good straight away. Store in the fridge for up to 3 months.