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6 Ways To Use Zucchini When You Don’t Like The Taste (And How To Save It For Winter)

August 6th, 2014 · 28 Comments · Avoiding Waste, Frugality

6 Ways to Use Zucchini When You Don't Like the Taste :: via Kitchen Stewardship

This post is from contributing writer Bethany Wright.

Oh Zucchini, How I Love Thee

There are so many great ways to enjoy zucchini … fried zucchini, baked zucchini. There’s zucchini latkes and zucchini pancakes, zucchini chips and zucchini fries. There’s even the fabulous zucchini-rice muffins and sausage zucchini bake!

While my family generally enjoys a good zucchini now and again, it’s hard to find uses for fresh zucchini when you’ve already exhausted your family’s patience – and Pinterest – trying to find yet another creative way to serve this super vegetable.

And that’s the tricky thing about zucchini… when it comes in season, it comes like a summer flood. Check out the pickings from my mom’s garden – and this was only all she could carry on her first trip!!

6 Ways to Use Zucchini (When You Don't Like The Taste)

6 Ways to Use Zucchini When You Don’t Like The Taste

While zucchini is great in the summer, I easily get burned out after a few weeks. This desperation lead to a great discovery: zucchini disappears in spaghetti sauce. Yes, you read that right.

Zucchini disappears in spaghetti sauce.

When zucchini is finely shredded, it will almost “melt” into a cooking sauce – particularly a tomato sauce. The key is to shred it finely, using either a box grater or a food processor.

We discovered this beautiful secret while on a challenge to up our veggie intake. But the principle applies to more than just pasta sauce!

Take a look at these 6 uses:

  1. Add 1-1.5 cups to spaghetti sauce.
  2. Add 1 cup to the cheese mixture in lasagna (or to the sauce itself).
  3. Add 1/2 cup to ground beef, like when making “cheeseburger helper” (click here for the recipe from the eBook Better Than A Box!).
  4. Add two tablespoons to a smoothie.
  5. Add 1-1.5 cups to chili – including white chicken chili (did you know there are 4 different chili recipes available in the Everything Beans eBook?).
  6. Add 1/2 cup to stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage rolls, and other similar dishes.

If you notice, I use shredded zucchini in small amounts – sometimes as little as a few tablespoons! Which leads to a problem… how do you save time using shredded zucchini when you only use a small amount?

Please – don’t envision me huddled over a blender, carefully shaving off a few spoonfuls of zucchini into my mango-blueberry smoothie. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

The Power of Dehydration

Thanks to the wisdom of Wardeh from GNOWGFLINS, I discovered the secret of always having shredded zucchini instantly on hand — DEHYDRATION. Suddenly, 15 cups of shredded zucchini could be dehydrated down into a quart jar that was shelf-stable in my pantry.

No need to take up massive space in the freezer. No need for freezing and thawing. No need to store in ice cube trays. Want only a pinch of zucchini? No problem! Simply pull out a few tablespoons or half a cup and cook away!

Now you can enjoy the benefits of summer zucchini – even in the winter, when you’re ready for a splash of summer. Boom!

How do you dehydrate zucchini? It’s actually very easy:

  1. Shred the zucchini (we use a food processor).(found on Amazon)
  2. Spread 2-3 cups on a dehydrating tray. Make sure to lay down parchment paper or the solid tray that comes with your dehydrator.
  3. Dehydrate at 115*F if you want to preserve the raw enzymes; my dehydrator (found on Amazon) says to do vegetables at 125*F.
  4. Dehydrate until it is dry and crunchy (so no moisture remains). This may be a few hours, it may be longer — so many factors can influence this.
  5. Store in a sealed container, like a mason jar with screw-top lid.

6 Ways to Use Zucchini (When You Don't Like The Taste)

 Helpful Hint 1: When you’re adding dehydrated shredded zucchini to spaghetti sauce (or other sauce-focused dishes), it’s not even necessary to rehydrate the zucchini with water. You can toss in a few crunchy handfuls and it will soften as the sauce cooks.

Helpful Hint 2: If you plan to add it to a drier dish (like stuffed peppers), consider rehydrating it with warm water for a few minutes in a bowl so it doesn’t accidentally stay crunchy. Simply drain and toss it in your recipe!

Helpful Hint 3: If you’re worried about the zucchini being detectable, crush it in your hands before you dump it in the pot.

Helpful Hint 4: Can I share a secret? If you already have bags and bags of frozen shredded zucchini in your freezer, it’s not too late to dehydrate them! Simply thaw and drain – they’ll dehydrate perfectly!

4 Reasons Why I Prefer Dehydrating Zucchini

6 Ways to Use Zucchini (When You Don't Like The Taste)

While I used to happily freeze my zucchini each summer, I have become a solid convert to dehydration.

  1. It doesn’t take up freezer space, allowing more room for me to make freezer meals!
  2. It doesn’t cost money to store. (It costs money to run the freezer and I can use that space for other things!)
  3. It is instantly ready to use. (I’m a little forgetful… anyone notice how frozen zucchini faintly resembles a cement block when you need to chisel out half a cup??)
  4. It takes up SO much less storage space. Waaaaaaaay less.

But What If I Don’t Have A Dehydrator?

Then go buy one. Now.

In all seriousness, dehydrators are amazing tools. You can often find them at garage sales for very cheap. During the summer, Aldi even offers an inexpensive dehydrator for sale. Try asking a friend if you can borrow theirs. And if you don’t have a dehydrator on hand, you could try using your oven on the lowest setting possible. Just be careful you don’t burn it!

And you could always freeze the zucchini in half cup portions and ice-cube tray portions. Or…you could get a dehydrator. (Seriously. Go now.)
What dish are you going to try adding in shredded zucchini? Anyone brave enough to try a few tablespoons in their next large pot of oatmeal?

(Want to learn how to dehydrate more than zucchini? Check out the GNOWFGLINS excellent and comprehensive dehydration class!

Bethany - Guest PostBethany lives in Ohio with her wonderful husband, delightful 5-year-old daughter, and adorable 2-year-old son. When she’s not busy making a disaster in the kitchen, she enjoys taking all-day cycling excursions with her family and reading books. She comes from a long line of cooks, including ancestors who were chefs to German nobility. Despite her chops in the kitchen, she is completely unskilled at vegetable gardening. (Her consolation is knowing that in a zombie apocalypse, her role would be the town baker and not farmer.) A long-time KS reader, Bethany is thankful for Kitchen Stewardship’s baby-steps and Monday Missions that have completely transformed her family’s life.

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Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon and GNOWFGLINS from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.

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28 Comments so far ↓

  • Joanne Romel

    Thank you!! I have been freezing zuchinni for awhile, I never thought about dehydrating! But I certainly will now. :).

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bethany - contributing writer for KS Reply:

    Joanne – glad to inspire you! Happy dehydrating! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Christina

    Thanks for the dehydration tip. I’ll be doing that today. :) One way I use up zucchini in a non obvious way is by making it into jam. No one who is not “in the know” ever suspects. Recipe can be found here: http://christinafredricks.com/?p=141

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bethany - contributing writer for KS Reply:

    Christina – That zucchini jam/jello is ingenious! I may have to give that a try…

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tammy

    We were just wondering last night if zucchini could be dehydrated as, thanks to your heads-up, Katie, we just purchased a dehydrator from Aldi’s. Looks like the answer is, “Yes!” I did slice and store some in my vacuum seal bags in the freezer for quick use. It’s good to know we can dehydrate some and use them in other ways.

    I did make a zucchini lasagna with a large zucchini sliced for the noodles. It was so delicious that everyone went back for seconds and was so glad that there were leftovers for the next day. I made sausage-filled zucchini boats last night for supper. They were also a big hit. I’m looking forward to making those again. Another perk about that, is by using the whole package of sausage, I have breakfast sausage ready for this morning. No time-consuming meat cooking, just warm, add chopped onions and eggs. :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bethany - contributing writer for KS Reply:

    Tammy – great call on the zucchini noodles! I have some zucchini-adverse members in my family, so I usually have to stick to more subtle recipes. Glad you found the dehydrator!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amy P.

    We shred all of our extra zucchini and freeze it. I will dry dehydrating it. We use the shredded zucchini as a filler in place of rice. We have a larger family, so I fry one gallon from the freezer of zucchini with one large onion and two pounds of hamburger then add my taco seasoning to it. It makes awesome tacos.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bethany - contributing writer for KS Reply:

    Amy – that sounds delicious!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Stacy

    I love playing sneaky chef, even on myself. We all have trouble liking our veggies around here. I have been pureeing and freezing all sorts of things and I throw an ice cube of frozen whatever in a lot of things that I cook. I had never thought about dehydrating, though. I definitely like the idea of freeing up some of that freezer space.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bethany - contributing writer for KS Reply:

    Stacy – you will LOVE having the extra freezer space. Plus, it looks so pretty in a jar! Happy “sneaky chef-ing!” ;-)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Linda Marie Finn

    Such an awesome idea, thank you for sharing.
    Linda Marie Finn
    Faithful Acres Books & More
    http://www.faithfulacres.net

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bethany - contributing writer for KS Reply:

    Linda – You are quite welcome. Enjoy your zucchini! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jill

    For the amounts you gave to add to sauces and such, is that dehydrated zucchini or fresh shredded?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bethany - contributing writer for KS Reply:

    Jill – great question! The answer is… it can be either. Really, the preference is up to you. I actually rarely measure — dropping the (dehydrated) zucchini in by the handful. If you’re hesitant, I would just start small. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Mel

    That makes my decision to grow it next year easier. I never thought about hiding it in anything before. My family doesn’t like it, but I do. Now I won’t feel guilty about growing a plant just for myself.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bethany - contributing writer for KS Reply:

    Mel – enjoy! Here’s to your little zucchini plant next year! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    Thanks for this great tip! I just posted yesterday about baking with & freezing zucchini, but you are right about the benefits of dehydration. Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bethany - contributing writer for KS Reply:

    Heather – And now you have the double bonus of having more room in your freezer for your delicious zucchini-baked goods! ;-)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Cathy

    Last year I tried putting zucchini in everything, including Popsicles (it does not disappear, in case you are wondering). I dehydrated some sliced and seasoned like you would season kale chips. Those were pretty good, but dehydrating plain grated zucchini sounds much easier and it will do a better job of stretching the season. Thanks for the how-to advice!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bethany - contributing writer for KS Reply:

    Cathy – your comment about the popsicles cracked me up!! I wonder if one was in a time-pinch, they could probably season the shreds (like you seasoned the chips) and enjoy zucchini shreds? Less work, same flavor? Hmmmm. Gets me thinking. Something to try with my overabundance of zucchini!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Christie P

    Great idea! You had me at “ain’t nobody got time for that”….laughing out loud for real. Last summer we had a great zucchini harvest in our home garden but this summer are living in a high-rise apartment, so, no garden. I will not forget this for future years – a great advanced incentive to definitely plant zucchini again :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bethany - contributing writer for KS Reply:

    Christie – glad to bring some joy to your day! :-D Here’s to your future zucchini harvest!!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Chris

    Thank you SOOO much. I have been zucchini’d out but there were still two HUGE zucs I couldn’t bear to throw out, but the freezer is full. They are dehydrating as I type. They are quite likely to be added to my tomato sauce, now bubbling away with the last of my tomatoes.

    I had purchased some dehydrated mushrooms but didn’t really like them added to food-so I put them in the blender and they are now a powder that gets added to just about any liquid I cook. I love “sneaky” cooking! :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bethany - contributing writer for KS Reply:

    Chris – glad to help! Shredding and dehydrating is is PERFECT for those monster zucchinis that you don’t know what to do with (or are tired of eating!!). Enjoy!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Katrina

    Can you dehydrate squash (like pumpkin)? I have some in my freezer and would love to get it out!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Betty

    I sneak shredded carrots into my pasta sauce, now I have something new to sneak in it! I also use them in place of noodles in lasgna when my garden grows.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • SJ Smith

    Love this dehydrating idea! This time of year, I try to salvage all the little extra bits of veggies by dehydrating them in an outdoors dehydrator. (over 100 here). Say I use half a zucchini, the rest I slice and dehydrate. Half an onion, same thing. Too many carrots… I dice some up and dehydrate. Don’t eat all the green beans cooked for dinner. No problem. Dehydrate them. Even that extra bit of fresh parsley or cilantro can be salvaged. Then, I keep a jar in the freezer for all the goodies I dry. I just toss ‘em in. Then, I have a quick way to add a veg mix to any soup or sauce in the middle of Winter. Also, it’s shelf stable; but will keep over 5 years in the freezer if it is properly dehydrated so the moisture is minimal.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Yuna- greemhealthygirl.com

    Awesome idea on shedding and dehydrating! I’ve made zucchini chips in the dehydrator before and they were delicious!

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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