Recipe: The Ultimate Zucchini Bread

It has been my personal quest over the past couple years of hauling large quantities of zucchini out of our summer garden to create a recipe that actually uses the zucchini.  If you have ever made zucchini bread before, you’ll know that most recipes call for only 2 measly cups (or sometimes less!) of grated zucchini, which is equivalent to about 1 medium-sized squash.  That’s super fun and all, but I can tell you right now that using up one medium zucchini will barely make a dent in my supply.  I need something that will use up a whole baseball bat-sized zucchini.  I need something that packs a whole 4 cups of shredded zucchini into one delightful loaf.  And so, this recipe was born.

Yes, my friends, this recipe uses a whopping 4 cups of shredded zucchini.  That’s an entire giant, club-sized zucchini.  I really pushed the limits of this recipe, and I used a little food science to help me out.  The secret to this zucchini bread is osmosis.

You may remember from your high school science classes that osmosis is the movement of water through a semi-permeable membrane from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration, until equilibrium has been established.  How do we do this with shredded zucchini?  The answer: salt!

Zucchini is full of water, trapped inside it’s cell membranes.  During the grating process, the zucchini is broken down into smaller pieces and some of the cell membranes are broken and more become exposed.  Adding a teaspoon of salt to the shredded zucchini will create a super saturated salt solution around the zucchini shreds.  Water will move through the cell membranes of the zucchini shreds into the super-saturated salt solution surrounding it, thereby diluting the salt solution and releasing the excess water from our zucchini shreds.  The zucchini is then drained and squeezed to remove the excess moisture, and reducing our original 4 cups of zucchini down to 2 cups of drained zucchini, now with less water and more fiber than the original zucchini.  Science is fun!

I based this recipe off of King Arthur Flour’s Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread, which is a really great recipe because it’s full of whole grains, nuts, and zucchini – so it seems and feels healthy.  It’s not overly sweet and uses molasses and brown sugar as the sweetener, which when combined with the cinnamon gives this zucchini bread an almost Christmas-y flavor.  I swapped the vegetable oil in the original recipe for olive oil, because I love the flavor of olive oil in sweet applications, and the flavors worked so well with the zucchini, whole wheat, cinnamon, and molasses. 

Recipe down below, photos up top and below!  I hope you give this one a try if you have a garden full of zucchini that you need to eat and the traditional zucchini bread recipes aren’t cutting it.  I personally can’t wait to make this one again and again to keep our supply in check!

The Ultimate Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

  • For the zucchini:
    • 4 cups shredded zucchini
    • 1 tsp salt
  • For the wet ingredients:
    • 2 large eggs
    • ⅓ cup molasses
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • ⅓ cup brown sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the dry ingredients:
    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp baking soda
    • ½ tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Additional Add-Ins (optional)
    • ¾ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
    • ¼ cup flax seeds

Method:

  1. Using the large holes on a traditional box grater, shred the zucchini until you reach 4 cups of shredded zucchini (this should take about 1 large zucchini or 2-4 smaller zucchini).  Place the zucchini in a bowl, and add 1 tsp of salt to the zucchini.  Mix to thoroughly combine the salt in with the zucchini.  Set bowl aside while you work on the rest of the zucchini bread batter.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375F. 
  3. Lightly grease a 9×5” loaf pan using olive oil.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, add all wet ingredients (eggs, molasses, olive oil, brown sugar, and vanilla extract).  Use a whisk to thoroughly combine all of the wet ingredients.
  5. Add all of the dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon) into the bowl with the wet ingredients. Use a spoon to thoroughly combine the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients.
  6. Place a colander in the sink, and pour your salted and grated zucchini into the colander.  Using your hands or the back of a spoon, press the zucchini into the colander and squeeze the zucchini to release the excess liquid.  Squeeze until you are left with 2 cups of grated zucchini.
    • The zucchini will still feel damp to the touch and will still have plenty of moisture left in it at this point.  Do not squeeze until it’s completely dry, simply squeeze and drain until most of the immediate liquid is gone.
  7. Add the zucchini, chopped walnuts, and flax seeds into the bowl with the batter.  Stir until everything is fully combined and incorporated.
  8. Pour the zucchini bread batter into the greased loaf pan, and use the spoon to even out the top. 
  9. Place in the oven and bake at 375F for 55-60 minutes. 
  10. Once fully baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes.  Use a knife to cut around the edges of the pan, and flip the zucchini bread out of the pan and onto a cooling rack.  Allow to fully cool for another 2 hours before slicing.
    • This cooling step is important to allow everything to set and allow the zucchini bread to hold together when slicing.
  11. Slice the zucchini bread into slices of desired thickness. Grab a slice and enjoy!

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