Many people are looking for ways to reduce their food waste, and one important thing to consider is your fruits and vegetables. If you’ve got zucchinis lingering in the bottom of the fridge, you might be wondering how long you can store them. We’re going to look at this and some top storage tips.
How long does zucchini last in the fridge? Zucchini can last for up to two weeks in the fridge, but it may start to wrinkle after about a week, and some will not last this long. If a zucchini has been damaged anywhere, try to use it up more quickly; once the skin has been broken, it will be more resistant to bacteria.
Do You Have to Keep Zucchini in the Fridge?
Yes, it’s crucial to keep zucchini in the fridge. If you leave zucchini at room temperature, it will quickly shrivel up. Zucchini may last for a few days, and it will still be safe to eat, but it won’t keep well and might be soggy by the time you try to use it. Put the zucchini straight in your fridge instead.
Zucchinis have a high-water content, and they need to be kept in the damp environment of the fridge to maintain this. If they are exposed to dry household air, they will quickly shrivel up, losing both taste and texture as the moisture evaporates from them.
A shriveled zucchini will go bad fast too, so it’s important not to let this happen. Place zucchinis straight in the fridge, rather than leaving them at room temperature at any time.
It’s a good idea to choose one of the warmest parts of your fridge, if possible, because cold temperatures can cause chilling injuries, and these will compromise the zucchini and make it go bad faster. Don’t put zucchinis right beside the icebox or at the very bottom of the fridge (unless they are in the crisper drawer).
Where Should You Store Sliced Raw Zucchini?
If you have cut some zucchini up but not yet used it, conserving the moisture will be the most important thing. Put the zucchini straight into a sealed tub or Ziploc bag and place it in your fridge. The bag will help to keep in the moisture that would otherwise be lost.
A zucchini’s skin helps to trap moisture inside the vegetable, so if you leave the skin intact, the zucchini will retain its moisture reasonably well. However, when you slice a zucchini, you create a lot of surface area that is not covered in skin and is exposed to the air.
This means zucchini slices can dry out in just a few hours and will not last at all well if they aren’t covered. Store them in a sealed container until you are ready to use them.
Is it Possible to Freeze Zucchini?
Many people who grow their own vegetables end up with a glut of zucchinis at a certain time of year, and none through the rest of the year. If you want to preserve some of your crop (or you’ve bought lots from the store), it is possible to blanch and freeze them for later use. Don’t freeze raw zucchinis.
Blanching is an important step because it will stop the enzymes inside the vegetable from reacting and helps to ensure that nutrients and texture are retained.
Most vegetables, when their tissues are damaged, release enzymes that start breaking the vegetable down, and this is what you want to avoid. If you freeze raw zucchinis, the damage done to the tissues by freezing will ruin their texture and blanching them prevents this.
To blanch zucchinis, wash them and then chop them into slices. You will need both boiling water and icy water ready. Drop the zucchinis into the boiling water and toss them for a couple of minutes, until their color is rich, and they are just turning tender.
Drain them and plunge them straight into the icy water. This stops the cooking process and means that they won’t turn mushy. Allow them to cool in the ice water, and then drain them again and pack them into portions in tubs or sealer bags.
Some people do freeze raw zucchini, but they tend to grate it first. It can then be used in dishes, without the texture making much difference.
How Do You Know If Zucchini Has Gone Bad?
If you’ve had a zucchini in the fridge for longer than seems sensible, inspect it closely. If the vegetable has become very wrinkly and shrunken, it is often best to throw it away. Any small mushy spots should be cut out. If the whole vegetable is slimy, compost it.
In general, it’s easy to tell when zucchinis have gone bad because they shrivel so dramatically. However, you should make sure that you cut bad bits out of a zucchini that has been bruised, even if the rest of the flesh is fine. Use a sharp knife to separate that part out.
You can also check whether the zucchini has gone bad by smelling it. Moldy zucchini will generally have a sour, unpleasant scent and a sticky texture, because bacteria are breaking down its cells. Don’t eat a zucchini that has turned slimy.
How Should You Store Cooked Zucchini?
Cooked zucchini should be placed on the counter until it has cooled to room temperature. It can then be transferred to a sealed container and placed in the fridge as soon as possible. It should last for three or four days if you store it correctly.
It’s usually easy to tell when sliced zucchini (cooked or raw) has gone bad because specks of mold will appear on the exposed surface. If this happens, throw the zucchini away, rather than trying to use it up.
A fresh zucchini should last for a couple of weeks in the fridge, provided it has not been damaged or cut open. As soon as you cut or peel a zucchini, it needs to be used up more quickly, and will often only last a few days. Place any sliced zucchini in an airtight container and aim to use it up fast.