What To Do With Too Many Zucchinis
Zucchini are incredibly versatile fresh or dried – there are plenty of different recipes you can add them to, being basically bland and buttery in flavor is what makes them work so well in bread and cakes – which is just as well.
I just spent the day picking, slicing and drying way too many zucchini. Totally my own fault, I always grow several varieties and can never bring myself to throw out healthy plants.
Yep, plenty get given away, but roughly ten more plants than we can possibly use in the season reach glorious maturity every year.
So what to do with them all!
Can you dehydrate zucchini easily? Yes!
But to do it without having a complete hissy fit, is best accomplished with an inexpensive food dehydrator – these days about $35 for a basic but efficient model.
When I started growing our own veggies about twenty years ago, we bought the best food dehydrator money would stretch to at the time, which being newly married and with a huge mortgage, was the cheapest available – a German made Westfalia.
It lasted for about seven years and was still working a treat, but the quantity of veggies being produced outgrew it and after replacing it with an Excalibur, I gave it to a young couple who were starting out on the food producing journey three doors down. She’s still using it!
Using a food dehydrator to dry large quantities of veggies makes sense. They take very little space stored in zip-lock bags or plastic containers and retain both flavor and shape if you slice them reasonably thickly.
I do plenty of spiral juliennes with the zucchini because once dried you can use it to thicken up meals, it fact dried zucchini spirals have completely replaced all the other thickening agents I used to use in stews and casseroles. Added to a meaty stew they add a silken texture which makes your gravy almost shiny, they don’t alter the taste by adding a lot of salty stock and they will thicken your gravy beautifully.
Of course if you add dried carrots, onions and other vegetables without soaking in a little water first, they’ll also take up fluid as they rehydrate – something to add into your calculations.
You can more easily get away with strong tasting stock with red meat, but with chicken, fish and vegetarian meals it’s important not to alter the flavor just to thicken a sauce – and this is a nutritious way of doing it.
Diabetic Issues With Salt!
Zucchini hold a lot of liquid in their cells, so once you’ve dehydrated them they take on a sponge like quality. When added to other dishes they appear to melt away into the food seamlessly – but each cell will rehydrate by absorbing any thin gravy, meaning a small handful will thicken any sauce. Voila!
This is a really good diabetic solution to thickening soups and stews and it works for everyone else – we should all cut salt!
Another tip is for frying them – use an oil mister and spritz over them – you’ll get a fine even covering which is enough oil to brown them without adding all those extra calories – the same trick works like magic on aubergine too. Want to add aroma to the oil? Find out how right here – now this is real easy!
Preparing Zucchini For Dehydrating
To prepare zucchini for dehydration I use two different kitchen gadgets, the first of which is a mandolin slicer. By using two I get thicker dried slices for adding substance to meals such as vegetable lasagne and the julienne spirals which when dry, can be added to soups and stews to thicken them.
In terms of quantity, roughly two thirds of the crop get processed with the mandoline and the final third get put through a Paderno spiral veggie slicer, both are really quick, though I wear a steel mesh glove with the mandoline and suggest you think about doing the same. There’s a post here on mandolin slicers including the Paderno if you’d like to read more.
Being quite soft to slice makes it a quick operation to get them ready to dehydrate and if you don’t have any good kitchen slicers, dehydrating shredded zucchini will be fine, or you can grate it and dry it.
One lovely blog has collected some great recipes for a glut of zucchini and posted links – you can find them here at Two Peas & Their Pod – Ive tried No 6 the fritters and No 9 the fried chips – highly recommended for evening nibbles.
I’ve also found the best zucchini oven Parmesan chips ever at another great blog smittenkitchen.com – crunchy and totally yummy.
If you love a moist cake, try the recipe below – this one is gorgeous! I have no idea where it originates from, I got it from mom who probably pulled it out of a 1980’s magazine. So if like me, you’re currently looking at a mountain of zucchini you can’t even give away, give this a go, but not if you’re currently dieting!
This recipe will give you x 2 1lb cakes or you can bake the whole lot in a large cake pan.
I use yellow skinned varieties for this and I deliberately don’t peel them – the skin gives a lovely yellow cake. If using green zucchini, peel them first or you know what color your cake will be…!
- 8oz zucchini – grated
- 5oz margarine
- 8oz sugar
- 4 eggs
- 10 oz self-raising flour – add a little more if too wet
- 2tsp mixed spice or freshly ground cinnamon added to the flour
- 4-6oz sultanas or raisins – chopped dates work well too
- 3oz chopped nuts
- 2tsp vanilla essence
- Preheat your oven to a moderate 180c or gas mk 4
- Grease tins or tray or use these brilliant silicone baking sheets, you can line them with baking parchment if you like – but you don’t need to
- Cream the margarine and sugar together
- Beat the eggs
- Now add eggs and flour in sequence making sure that it is well mixed
- Beat in the courgettes, fruit, nuts and the vanilla essence
- Bake for 1 hour then check the mix
NB – This is a moist cake so don’t expect the skewer to be totally clean. You must let the cake cool completely once cooked.
Because the mix is moist, cooling will set the cake some, but even then I’d use a wide flat spatula to remove it from the pan – you can bake in a pan where the base pushes up to get round this if it worries you – or serve it directly out of the pan!
Enjoy – and let me know what you think.
If you want to know more about which dehydrators to look at or you want to find out more about choosing a food dehydrator then click to read an essential buying guide for food dehydrators and several reviews of popular models.