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DCL

There comes a point where you can't eat another steamed, sauteed, or fried bite of zucchini. The thought of making another loaf of zucchini bread or batch of zucchini muffins makes you almost nauseous.

But come February, the fresh flavor of steamed crookneck squash can often help brighten even the most dreary winter day. If you take the time now to freeze some of that glut of summer squash you're getting from your garden or CSA, you'll be sure to have some on hand when you want it this winter, without resorting to rubbery, flavorless supermarket zucchini.

How to Freeze Summer Squash

There are two basic ways to successfully freeze summer squash:

Blanch and Freeze

You want to retain the flavor and texture, so how you freeze the squash matters. For example, it might be easier to just slice up a zucchini, toss it in a container, and freeze it. But, when you decide to use it, you'll find that you're left with a spongey, limp zucchini that is good for soups, but not much else. To retain more of the texture, you really need to blanch your squash before freezing -- this slows the oxidation process that results in squishy squash. It's very simple:

1. Slice your squash into 1-inch thick slices, or 1-inch cubes, depending on how you want to use it later on.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil.

3. Add the squash, and boil for 30 seconds.

4. Remove the squash, and place it in a bowl of ice water for a minute. This will stop the cooking action.

5. Drain the squash thoroughly, and place in a freezer-safe container.

6. Freeze.

Grated Squash

If you plan to use your squash mostly for baking breads and muffins, the easiest thing to do is grate it up and freeze it that way. There is no blanching necessary with this method -- just grate a raw squash, and place in freezer-safe containers. I like to store mine in 1-cup quantities so it's easy to just use what I need. Thaw before adding to your baked goods by leaving your frozen squash in the refrigerator overnight.

As you can see, it's very simple to preserve your summer squash -- and you'll appreciate the effort this winter when you're craving a bit of summer.