Summer can mean a flood of zucchini, and it shows a wealth of harvest from your plants, whether you buy them at the grocery, farmer’s market or grow them in your own garden.
With the greatest of intentions, it’s all too easy to overstock your refrigerator with the highly versatile summer squash. If you purchase zucchini at the supermarket, seek a sturdy squash with lustrous or glossy skin, as the softer the zucchini, the higher the risk of spoilage.
For many people, it’s simple to have too many zucchini no matter if you grow them or take advantage of the latest bargain in the store. Knowing how to identify when zucchini is bad is essential to avoid wastage.
Here, you can discover everything you need to know about how to tell when Zucchini is bad, as well as how to preserve it if you have too much to use right away. (Learn How to Grow Potatoes)
What Happens if You Eat Bad Zucchini?
Cucurbitacin is a poison that plants make to protect themselves against insects. Even a few bites of bitter squash could have consequences. High quantities of the toxin can be caused by cross-pollination with wild plants, as well as some form of stress during growth.
Should you bite into squash or baby marrow and get a bad taste, spit it out, and don’t eat anymore. Likewise, avoid eating any “volunteer” zucchini or acorn squash you didn’t plant as a crop in your garden.
If there are ornamental pumpkins and gourds planted alongside squash, don’t consume these as they can also contain cucurbitacin.
If the toxin levels are too high, it might induce:
- Abdominal Pain and Diarrhea
- Nausea and Vomiting
How Long Does Zucchini Last in the Fridge?
When you want to know how long does zucchini last, then you need to know the different areas they can be stored and the storage method of how to do so.
Like other vegetables, zucchini starts to disintegrate quickly at room temperature. You can keep a full zucchini for consumption for one to two days. Up to 3 or 4 days, it won’t go bad, yet the quality will deteriorate.
If you’ve got sliced zucchini, the only place is in the fridge as it decays in the pantry or at room temperature inside a day where it gets a bitter taste, has potential rotten spots, and goes bad.
Storing your zucchini in the pantry can be slightly better as it’s cooler and darker. You can have 3 to 5 days of excellent quality and another one or two days of slightly mushy zucchini. If it can absorb moisture, use it in soup rather than a salad. (Read About Red Maple Growth Rate)
Zucchini lasts for at least 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator and potentially to 2 weeks. However, you need to wrap it unwashed and place it in a paper or plastic bag. You do, however, need to make sure there is air circulation.
You can find Zucchini fresh in the fridge for two to three days if sliced or chopped inside an airtight container. If you have more zucchini you can eat from your trips to the grocery stores or zucchini fresh from your garden, you can find a few ways of keeping it fresh above or use these steps for freezing zucchini.
- Wash the zucchini
- Prepare the zucchini. Cut the whole zucchini into 1/4-inch slices.
- Blanch the zucchini by adding the zucchini to a pot of boiling water. After one minute, transfer your zucchini to an ice water bath and leave it there for 2-minutes.
- Drain the zucchini and pat dry the delicate fruit of the zucchini with a paper towel.
- Pre-freeze zucchini by laying blanched slices on a tray with a baking sheet. Place in the freezer for 1-2 hours, or until it’s frozen.
- Pack your frozen zucchini in freezer bags and store zucchini for one year! Use a plastic bag or an airtight container to stop ice burn in your frozen zucchini.
Is it OK to eat a soft zucchini?
A rotten zucchini can go bad if it is not stored properly or is past its expiration date. Zucchini is mainly water; therefore, if it loses its texture, it’s useless.
If the flesh smells, tastes, and looks fine, you can consume it, although if it has dark bruised spots, don’t eat them since it can be mushy and have wrinkled skin. When you cut through a bad zucchini, you’ll notice that the inside flesh is loaded with large seeds. (Read Does Grass Seed Expire)
The skin of a bad Zucchini is lifeless and makes it easy to identify and discard. The inside flesh of good zucchini will smell good and taste good. If you notice any bruises, use a knife to cut the spoiled area, use the good parts, and replace it with the good ones.
Eating a bad part of a soft Zucchini can lead to food poisoning, or it can make you feel uneasy.
What Does Bad Zucchini Smell Like?
A single zucchini can deliver 9 pounds of fresh fruit, so it’s easy to see why you get so many winter squash to deal with. (Learn How to Grow Strawberries Indoors)
A bad zucchini squash appears dull, so don’t eat zucchini that’s covered in rotten spots. The vegetable can feel mushy with wrinkled skin.
In your garden, zucchini goes bad when not harvested as the fruit is immature. If left on the plant too long, zucchini becomes tough and loses flavor.
Sometimes, zucchini can rot on the plant before harvest, thus showing the plant hasn’t been pollinated or suffers from blossom-end rot. Blossom end rot can be from too much nitrogen, uneven watering, or over-fertilization. The fruits basically grow too fast for the amount of water they have.
Zucchini is ready to be harvested when it’s 6 to 8 inches long. It should feel firm with shiny or glossy skin. If the skin appears dull, it is the first sign your zucchini sold, use-by date, or shelf-life is already up.
Once you cut a healthy zucchini, it has an almost buttery texture with flesh that looks faint yellow, green, or possibly white. Zucchini flavor is mild and juicy, and the meaty flesh means cooked zucchini stands up to grilling, sauteing, and baking zucchini bread.
Should just a part of the vegetable be damaged or is soft or wrinkly, and the inner flesh mushy, it is a matter of cutting away this part and so long as the main part of the zucchini still has color, texture, and smells fresh, it should still be good enough to use. (Read Are Sprouted Potatoes Safe to Eat)
However, it is better to shove it through a cooking process rather than eating raw.
Zucchini needs a cool, dry place for storing, like the crisper drawer in your fridge. With zucchini stored with the proper storage, fresh zucchini you have harvested from your garden lasts about one to two weeks. Store zucchini can go bad faster as you don’t know the age of the plant.
Fresh zucchini has a neutral or “greenish” smell. If you smell anything like vinegar or acidic, it means the summer squash is already going bad and has no more shelf life.
When you are picking zucchini, it is vital in recognizing spoiled zucchini, no matter if it is from your garden, the store, or your refrigerator.
When you take it from the fridge, lift the bag and hold it so you can see your cut zucchini through the bag.
If it appears it’s going mush, or there is juice, you can be sure it needs throwing out.
If the zucchini isn’t spoiled, open the bag. Remove one of your squash so you can examine it up close.
Check for any signs of damage, like large soft or bruised spots, or even if you used a vegetable brush before you put the zucchini in the fridge. If you see bad parts, cut these away using a sharp knife. If you have a firm squash and the bruise is just in the skin, the rest of the sliced zucchini squash can be used.
If the zucchini part that is spoiled reaches deep inside the zucchini flesh, cut the zucchini lengthwise to check the interior for streaks or soft, watery-looking areas.
If there is no visible damage or rot, gently squeeze the zucchini. If still okay to use yet it’s losing freshness, it will feel slightly rubbery.
At this stage, don’t serve your grocery store-bought zucchini raw and rather make soups, stews, or fry it into fritters. No matter, a dash of olive oil can be enough to revive the flavors in your favorite dishes. (Learn About Regrowing Green Onions)
Just remember, if you purchase from the supermarket, zucchini and other summer squash are okay to be kept at room temperature for three to five days, and they shouldn’t spoil. If you keep them wrapped and, in the fridge, buying zucchini you will use in a few days is also fine.
One of the most important things is not washing the squash before you are ready to cook it. You may think it is food safety yet washing zucchini can reduce the shelf life of a good zucchini.