Bought a bunch of zucchinis and not sure if you’re going to use all of them before they spoil? How long does zucchini last?
Or maybe you’re buying zucchini only from time to time, and you’re not sure how you’re supposed to store it or what are the signs of spoilage.
If either sounds familiar, you’re in the right place. In this article, we are going to cover:
- storage practices and periods for this veggie, plus whether you should refrigerate it
- telling if yours is still okay to eat or not, and if large seeds and stringy flesh make zucchini spoiled
- choosing the best zucchinis in the grocery store so that next time you know what to look for
Sounds interesting? Let’s go.
How Long Does Zucchini Last?
Fresh zucchini lasts for up to two weeks in the fridge and retains quality for about 3 to 4 days at room temperature. Zucchini slices and cooked zucchini stay safe for about 3 to 4 days.
As you can tell, summer squash such as zucchini doesn’t keep nearly as well as winter squash (e.g., butternut or spaghetti squash) and lasts only up to two weeks if you do everything right ([UC, HORT]).
To get the longest storage time, make sure you choose only the best ones. That means ([USU]):
- selecting small and firm ones with tender and glossy skin (see below)
- choosing ones free of blemishes and any visible signs of decay
- avoiding large ones with dull-looking skin because they usually have large seeds and stringy flesh
Zucchini is (usually) harvested at a very immature stage before the seeds start to grow and harden, and the skin goes dull and thickens ([UCD]). Those are the zucchinis we’re looking for.
When it comes to any dishes with zucchini, consume the leftover within 3 to 4 days.
|Zucchini (whole)||3 – 4 days||1 – 2 weeks|
|Zucchini (cut)||3 – 4 days|
|Zucchini (cooked, leftovers)||3 – 4 days|
If the given periods aren’t enough for you, there are a couple of options:
- freeze the zucchini, so that it lasts for months
- use the zucchini in cooking and freeze the cooked thing (e.g., you can freeze zucchini bread)
- bake something like zucchini bread, which usually disappears in hours (here’s how to store zucchini bread)
How To Store Zucchini
Store zucchini in the fridge. Go with the veggie drawer, or put it in a ventilated bag and near the door. If you need this summer squash to last only a few days, letting it sit on the counter is okay.
For sliced, cubed, or cooked zucchini, transfer it in an airtight container and into the fridge.
The optimum temperature for zucchini is 41°F-50°F (or 5°C-10°C) ([UCD]), which is a bit warmer than what’s (probably) in your fridge.
Therefore, I suggest either the crisper drawer or keeping the veggie near the door. Both places tend to be a bit warmer, so either fits the bill.
Storing zucchini at below 41°F (or 5°C) can cause chilling injury that shortens veggie’s shelf life ([HORT]). Because of that, choosing the warmest place in the fridge is actually important.
Humidity is next in line. Zucchinis prefer high relative humidity, which is why the veggie drawer is the perfect place for them.
If there’s no space in yours, store them in a perforated bag. That allows air circulation but also traps some of the moisture.
If you want to prep your zucchinis ahead of time, put them in an airtight container and into the fridge. And make sure you’re only prepping enough for 3 to 4 days, not a whole week.
When it comes to leftover cooked zucchini, treat it as any other leftover, and refrigerate tightly covered.
How To Tell When Zucchini Is Bad?
Discard zucchini that:
- Has lots of rotten spots. You can cut off a few small rotten spots or blemishes, that’s for sure, but if the decay is taking over, let the veggie go.
- Is shriveled, soft, mushy, or has wrinkled skin. All of those are symptoms of the zucchini being old and losing most of its water. If the veggie gets to this point, it’s no good.
- Is pre-cut and moldy. If you notice mold or any funny business going in the container, discard all of its contents. Do it even if there’s only one moldy cube and the rest seems to be fine.
- Is pre-cut and sits in the fridge for more than five days. That zucchini might still be okay to eat, but you never know, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
That’s it when it comes to sure signs of spoilage. What about zucchinis with dull skin, large seeds, and inner flesh being stringy?
Those zucchinis were harvested late, when the fruit has already matured, and aren’t that great quality-wise. But they are still edible.
Whether you’re going to use them or discard them is up to you. They don’t taste that good, and that might bother you (or not).
If you’re okay with the zucchini tasting okay-ish, experiment with those zucchinis and see how that goes. If the recipe doesn’t rely on the taste of zucchini, it might turn out quite alright.
Alternatively, you can cut out the stringy flesh and the seeds in the middle, and use the rest. What’s leftover won’t look pretty, but you’ll get the most out of what you’ve got.