This seasonal vegetable really delivers volumes of zucchini from just one plant, and you can find yourself overrun with this gorgeous vegetable, not knowing what to do. If they are store-bought or home-grown, taking advantage of bumper crops of zucchini should be on your priority list. Can zucchini last more than two weeks?
Did you know zucchini is a fruit, not a vegetable, and the flowers are delicious when stuffed and fried? The versatile zucchini is a must for any home, it’s great in soups and salads, and if you didn’t try zoodles, you are missing out on a treat.
This article explores how to extend the shelf life of the versatile zucchini so you can eat this delicious food all year round. We answer many frequently asked questions for you to be an authority on storing zucchini.
Let’s get into it.
Does zucchini expire?
Yes, it is a seasonal vegetable/fruit, and if it is not treated correctly, it will expire within a couple of weeks of harvesting, but if treated the right way, you can eat zucchini the whole year around.
If you grow zucchini in your backyard, you have an advantage over those who buy zucchini in the grocery store. You will know the harvest date and exactly how fresh the zucchini is.
The problem with zucchini bought from the store is you don’t know when the zucchini was harvested, and a few days will make the difference in how long you should keep zucchini before you cook with it.
If you are buying zucchini from the store or farmers market, the zucchini should be in good shape, not too long, not too fat, still have the flower if possible, and it should be green and firm.
Avoid buying zucchini with skin blemishes or cracked skin from mishandling.
If your zucchini is freshly harvested, you can expect to store it for longer than two weeks if it is stored correctly. Store freshly harvested zucchini in a cool dark pantry with good airflow.
If you want your zucchini to last for months and even until the next season without too much effort, let the later season zucchini grow more like marrows. The skin may be a little thicker, and they will have more seeds, but in a cool dark pantry, they can last for six to seven months without you doing anything other than checking them every few weeks.
There are some misleading statements regarding zucchini. It can last longer than two weeks after harvesting if kept in the right conditions. Of course, it will become limp and less appealing on a kitchen window ledge as it ripens.
Does zucchini need to be refrigerated?
Zucchini is better to keep cool, so yes, store it in the vegetable crisper in the fridge. It needs a flow of air to get the best out of zucchini. Moist zucchini in the fridge will rot fast, so storing it correctly is essential to its longevity.
Before placing the zucchini in the crisper, ensure it is clean and dry, put the zucchini in a paper bag, and leave the end open to let airflow.
Also, be aware of what is stored in the fridge. The table below indicates that zucchini is sensitive to ethylene ( Ethylene gas (C2H4), a hormone that stimulates fruit ripening and senescence).
Zucchini s are moderately sensitive to cold so ensure your fridge is at a temperature where the zucchini can store adequately.
There is more to keeping zucchini in the fridge than meets the eye, it is always the first place you think of to store foods, but it could be detrimental to some vegetables given the parameters of how veggies behave in certain conditions.
|Ethylene producers||Sensitive to ethylene||Able to be stored with others for short periods|
|Avocado||Beans (French)||Chili peppers|
|Honeydew melon||Capsicum (sweet pepper)||Cumquat|
|Tomato (colored)||Squash (button)||Mandarin|
Does covering zucchini in the fridge make a difference?
It has been established that freshly harvested zucchini can be stored in a cool fridge away from vegetables and foods that emit ethylene. The zucchini will be good in this condition for two weeks or longer.
The zucchini should be in a paper bag with an open to allow for airflow.
Cut zucchini can be stored in an airtight container such as Tupperware with a sealable lid or a Ziploc bag. Cut zucchini will last for around 4 to 5 days when prepared for cooking.
Cooped zucchini should also be in an airtight container with a sealable lid or bag. It will last for 3 to 4 days.
Can you put warm zucchini in the fridge?
Placing warm zucchini in the fridge will cause condensation coalescing to water droplets that will drip and make your zucchini less appetizing.
Your fridge temperature will be 40℉ -18℃ or a little lower. Placing a warm zucchini in the fridge will elevate its temperature while it radiates heat.
Your fridge may not be as efficient as you might have thought at removing heat. Most fridges take hours to come to 40℉ after being switched on after cleaning.
Food sitting at a temperature of 40-140℉ is in the food danger zone. It will spoil your zucchini and the contents of the entire fridge.
Above 40℉-18℃ bacterial growth on perishable foods will accelerate exponentially. It should be discarded if the food remains at an elevated temperature above 40℉-18℃ for just two hours.
According to the USDA, after two hours in the food danger zone, perishable foods contain enough bacteria to cause food poisoning.
How long can zucchini sit out?
Raw uncut zucchini can sit out without gaining bacteria. However, raw zucchini mixed into a salad or cooked zucchini can only sit on the side for two hours.
After two hours, the zucchini will have been exposed to bacterial growth that has accelerated exponentially. According to the USDA, perishable foods sitting out for two hours or more should not be eaten. The bacteria level has increased significantly, and could now cause food poisoning if the food is consumed.
How long does zucchini last in the fridge?
Freshly harvested for around two weeks or more if kept in the right conditions.
Cut and prepared for salad or cooking, zucchini will last for 3 to 4 days. But it should be sealed in an airtight container with a sealable lid or a locking mechanism such as a Ziploc bag.
Cooked zucchini will last a similar 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Again, it should be in an airtight sealed container to get the maximum life from the cooked food.
Does zucchini go bad in the freezer?
In theory, food stored in the freezer below 0℉ has an indefinite shelf life, but that’s not always true, and in the case of zucchini, if stored correctly, it will last for 12 months in the freezer.
Zucchini has dense flesh that makes it the perfect vegetable for freezing. Despite its water content, it somehow withstands the rigors of freezing with the ice crystals, making it mushy.
However, there is a technique for preparing zucchini for freezing.
There is no need to remove the skin. If you have larger zucchini, they will have seeds which are also acceptable in the freezer.
Clean the zucchini and cut lengthways so you have four or eight-piece strips, then dice in the size you would usually cook the zucchini.
Place the zucchini into Ziploc bags; if you have a lot, the gallon bags work best for storage.
Before you place the bags in the freezer, remove as much air from the bags as possible, it is easy to squeeze out and then seal.
This freezing method will keep your zucchini stored for up to one year. Past year you can expect the product to deteriorate. Loss of flavor and texture will be noticeable changes.
How can you tell if zucchini has gone bad?
There are tell-tale signs that all is not well with your zucchini, it will start to look limp, and the skin may shrivel as it loses moisture content from the flesh.
Zucchini almost always gets spots. The spots are black and can be fuzzy with visible mold growth. It is evident that the zucchini is not fit to eat.
The inside of the zucchini will be mushy, and it will have changed color to brownish if it’s gone all the way to the rooting stage. It will smell like rotten veg.
When should you throw out zucchini?
When a zucchini looks limp and tired, it’s time to toss it in the compost or the garbage.
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Zucchini is a versatile vegetable and can be stored in and out of the freezer for some time. The problem is that if you are a home grower, you will be inundated with zucchini even after you have given away a lot.
If you let your zucchini grow bigger into a marrow, it will last for months stored in a cool, dry pantry with airflow.
String zucchini in the fridge gives the vegetable a shelf life of around two weeks, give or take a day or two.
If the zucchini is prepared for cooking or cooked, it must be stored in an airtight container, lasting approximately four days.
However, if you are looking for long-term storage, the zucchini does freeze exceptionally well and will store for 12 months in the freezer without losing quality.