Pasta is one of the world’s most beloved and widespread food items. For all its greatness it is carbohydrate filled and most varieties are made from wheat which contains gluten. Alternatives have sprung up over time for the gluten intolerant or those seeking lower carbohydrate alternatives. Zucchini noodles are one such example that is quite popular. Made from the zucchini or baby marrow they provide a completely vegetable-based and low carbohydrate option that is free of gluten and eggs. Zucchini noodles most resemble spaghetti. However, the vegetable composition of the noodles means they do not store as easily or quite in the same way as spaghetti. To know how to store zucchini noodles we need to understand how they are made and the qualities of zucchini noodles.
What Are Zucchini Noodles?
Zucchini noodles are alternatives to pasta made by processing a zucchini or baby marrow in such a way that it resembles spaghetti noodles. A zucchini is placed into spiraliser which shreds the zucchini into long thin noodle-like strands. This can also be achieved by thinly slicing the zucchini and then cutting the slices lengthwise to create long noodle-like threads. Unlike pasta noodles, zucchini noodles do not require a long cooking method and boiling. It is best to blanch the noodles in hot water for around 3 minutes. You can also sautee the zucchini noodles in a pan and this should only require about 3 minutes as well. The third acceptable cooking method is to place uncooked zucchini noodles into your regular pasta sauce then cooking for 3 minutes as well. In either case, zucchini noodles do not require a long cooking period. It should be apparent to you that the method of storing your cooked zucchini noodles will be determined by how they were cooked.
The Trouble With Zucchini
The zucchini is a member of the cucurbits family which includes pumpkins, squashes and cucumbers. Unfortunately, the zucchini is closer in quality to the cucumber than pumpkins and squashes. Their flesh is largely a membrane that holds water. Much like a cucumber, zucchini will start to lose water after being cut open or shred. This makes storing uncooked zucchini very difficult as it seeps moisture. With cooked zucchini you have the same problem though to a lesser extent. What you will get as a result is a loss of the rigid texture and softer, mushy zucchini which doesn’t present the desired texture. The options you have for storing your cooked zucchini noodles are limited because of this.
Storing Cooked Zucchini In The Refrigerator
When storing cooked zucchini noodles in the refrigerator, the way the zucchini noodles were initially cooked will determine the storage method and materials. If your zucchini noodles are cooked by themself in a method such as blanching or sauteeing you will need to use a storage technique that involves paper towels. You can use almost any storage container but plastic and glass are the recommended containers. You can use resealable freezer bags or Tupperware. Line the bag, dish or container with paper towels. It’s best to use a double layer of paper towels. Place the zucchini on top of the paper towels and cover or close. If you’re using a freezer bag make sure you lay the bag with the paper towels down and the zucchini up. While in the refrigerator the zucchini will seep moisture but the paper towels will soak the moisture. What you will have are zucchini noodles that are closer to dry and this is an advantage for reheating. If your zucchini noodles are cooked in a sauce such as bolognaise or marinara then you will have to treat them differently when storing. Your best materials for storage are still plastic and glass but for the plastic strictly Tupperware. Just place your zucchini noodles, sauce and all into the container. It is best to use a container that is airtight for locking in moisture. In both these storage methods you will be able to keep your cooked zucchini noodles in the refrigerator for 2-4 days. The mileage will vary as the ones cooked in sauce will fair much better.
How To Tell If Your Cooked Zucchini Noodles Have Gone Bad
If you have refrigerated cooked zucchini noodles you do not have long to use them. To check if they have gone bad you can easily use a visual test. Firstly look for discolouration of the flesh of the zucchini noodles. Any sign that the colour is off is a sign they have gone bad. The texture of your cooked zucchini noodles will also tell you if they have gone bad. If they have a slimy film forming on them then your zucchini noodles have gone bad.
Can You Freeze Zucchini Noodles?
You will also be pleased to know that you can safely freeze zucchini noodles. You will have to take care with how you store them to preserve their texture. Freezing works best with blanched zucchini noodles. It is important to put them in cold water straight after blanching to stop the cooking process. Be sure to drain them of all water afterwards and putting them on paper towels can help the process. Sautéed zucchini noodles can also freeze decently. If your zucchini noodles are cooked into a sauce they will also freeze decently. You will need an airtight container or a freezer bag, preferably resealable to store your cooked zucchini noodles in. Place the container in the freezer as soon as possible. One caveat is to make sure your zucchini noodles are not cut too thin. If they are cut thinly you may face problems in the thawing process and they will come out mushy and soft as they will release moisture in thawing. It is expected that the texture of frozen zucchini noodles will not quite match up to fresh or cooked zucchini noodles. Cooked zucchini noodles will keep safely in the freezer for 10 to 12 months.
The best way to store cooked zucchini noodles is the refrigerator where you can keep them for 2 to 4 days depending on how they were cooked. If you want to keep them longer you can freeze your cooked zucchini noodles but do not expect them to keep the texture as they will seep water in the thawing process.