Dear Barbara: A friend and I want to make zucchini bread ahead of the holidays, but we are not sure if it is OK to freeze. How long can it be frozen, and how should we thaw the bread; wrapped or unwrapped? — Susan from Lodi
Dear Susan: Zucchini bread definitely freezes well. It can remain frozen for two to three months if properly wrapped. I would suggest that you double-wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil. When you decide to thaw the bread, just remove the foil, but leave the plastic wrap on until it is completely thawed.
If you have a vacuum sealer, you can use that without having to wrap the bread, as long as the sealed bags are meant for the freezer. Thaw the bread before opening the vacuumed-sealed bag. Check with the instruction book to see how long a vacuum sealed bag may remain frozen.
Since you are talking about freezing for the holidays, which are more than five months away, you may want to consider freezing just the zucchini for now. You can safely grate the zucchini and put the correct measurement for each batch in freezer bags. Mark each bag with the amount of zucchini stored in it and the date. Zucchini will keep up to a year this way.
When it gets closer to the holiday, just thaw the zucchini, squeeze it dry, and you are all set to go. Your zucchini is not only grated for you, but also is the correct measurement.
Dear Barbara: Since the dissolving of sugar to the (room temperature) egg whites is a problem, would it resolve the meringue whipping to just use light karo syrup (4 tablespoons substituting for 4 tablespoons. sugar for two egg whites)? Seems simpler than predissolving the granulated sugar. Should the meringue time be adjusted up/down in a 400 degree oven? Would this work? — Maureen from Lodi
Dear Maureen: It seems there are two different questions here. Let’s start with the sugar problem. Karo Syrup and granulated sugar are not interchangeable. You would have to change many other ingredients as well. I’m sure there is a formula for doing that, but I have no idea what it is.
As for the sugar, it should dissolve properly. Try mixing a teaspoon of cream of tartar in with the sugar. This will stabilize the meringue. Add the sugar as soon as the egg whites start to get foamy. The sugar must be put into the egg whites gradually while you are beating the meringue.
Weepy meringue has been a problem for a lot of home cooks. You need to whip the whites until the meringue holds stiff peaks or it will weep. When you apply the meringue to the pie, be sure that the meringue touches the crust all the way around. Take the pie out of the oven when the meringue is a light golden brown and cool to room temperature before you put it in the refrigerator.
I’m guessing that you may not have beaten the egg whites long enough, or maybe you added the sugar too fast.
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and city.