If you’ve eaten all the fresh young zucchini you desire for the year and are now left with those giant zucchini that no one wants to touch, its time to get creative. What you do with it depends primarily on whether or not you are determined to eat it. Yes, overgrown zucchini is still edible and can be used to make delicious breads, cakes and muffins, but it does take a bit of time to prepare.
Allow zucchini to mature on the vine. Harvest small six- to eight-inch zucchini for cooking in stir fries and casseroles. These small zucchini are crisp and tender when young, but once they mature, zucchini are no longer suitable for eating fresh in salads or for traditional zucchini recipes like zucchini parmesan. Mature zucchini develop a tough skin and large seeds, but they are ideal for baking moist breads, cakes and muffins.
Wash the zucchini to remove any dirt or garden residue. Check for any soft or discolored areas. Small areas can be cut away and will not harm the fruit. Thoroughly dry the zucchini with a soft cloth or paper towels. Cut zucchini lengthwise to expose the interior. Scoop away any overgrown seeds and pith. The fruit of the zucchini is firm and white or whitish green. Trim the ends and cut the zucchini into four-inch sections.
Grating or Shredding
Grate with a vegetable grater or shred loosely in the blender. The zucchini should be shredded, not pureed. Watch closely that you do not over-process the zucchini. Part of the appeal of zucchini in breads and cakes is that it provides texture to the batter. Over processed zucchini is too mushy to achieve this affect.
Place shredded zucchini in a colander to drain away juices. Press firmly with a layer of paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Using zucchini that has not been properly drained results in dense bread that appears a bit doughy.
Cooking and Freezing
Use shredded zucchini in your favorite recipes for breads, muffins, cookies and cakes following the instructions for the recipe. Freeze fresh shredded zucchini in food storage bags, as it does not require blanching and will keep for several months without loosing flavor. Measure the amount you will need for your recipes and freeze it separately to make baking easier.
References and ResourcesThe University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
Washington State University Extension