Can You Freeze Cucumbers?

When cucumber vines yield abundantly, what are your options? Learn how to freeze cucumbers for summer-fresh fare in any season.

Gherkin Cucumbers Ideal for Pickling

Gherkin Cucumbers Ideal for Pickling

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Cucumber vines sometimes yield so much fruit that you feel overwhelmed. Consider freezing cucumbers when you extra on hand. The result offers delicious cucumber flavor that can stir memories of summer—even in the depth of winter. Learn how to freeze cucumbers and simple ways to use that frozen fare.

The reason most people doubt that you can freeze cucumbers is due to their high water content. How does a frozen cucumber not turn to total mush? The secret lies in the preparation. To freeze this garden item, you don’t use a typical blanching process with boiling and ice water. Instead, you prepare the cucumbers in a brine solution, just like when you make pickles. In fact, frozen cucumbers in brine are often referred to as freezer pickles. The thawed product offers snap and crunch.

For best results, start with homegrown or locally raised cucumbers. If you’re not growing your own cucumbers and your family loves this garden item, consider asking farmers’ market vendors if you can buy a large quantity. Choose smaller cucumbers—roughly four to six inches long and only one to 1.5 inches in diameter. Smaller cukes work better in the freezing process.

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If you use store-bought cucumbers, they’ll likely have a wax coating. Remove this with a gentle detergent and soft brush. Wash homegrown or local farm-raised cucumbers in water. Peeling is optional. Slice cucumbers uniformly. A mandolin makes quick work of this job, but you can also do it with a knife if you have a steady hand and good eye.

Slice onions to add to your frozen cucumbers. Most recipes recommend one onion per 2 quarts of sliced cucumbers. In a large plastic bowl, layer sliced cucumbers and onions with 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt. Sprinkle the salt onto layers as you create them. Portion out the salt so it lasts to the end of your layers. Cover this mixture with plastic wrap and let it sit for roughly 2 hours (longer is fine). Dump the cucumbers and onions into a colander and rinse with cold water to remove all traces of salt. Transfer the cucumbers back to the large plastic container.

Combine one-half cup white vinegar and 1.5 cups of sugar in a separate bowl. Pour this mixture over the cucumbers and stir well, so sugar is evenly dispersed throughout the cucumbers. Some people like to add celery seed to the mixture at this point.

Ladle cucumbers into freezer containers, bags, or can-or-freeze Mason jars. Be sure to leave at least one-half-inch of head space for expansion. Label containers and freeze. Wait at least a week before eating. Frozen cucumber pickles will last up to 12 months. Thaw containers overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Eat these freezer pickles like traditional pickles, or add to salads or dips. You can also chop them to use as relish or blend the chopped cukes with mayonnaise to make your own tartar sauce. Cucumbers retain a nice crunch when frozen this way. Research freezer pickle recipes for other seasoning options and sugar and vinegar ratios.

You can also freeze cucumbers by juicing or pureeing them with a little water. Freeze the mixture in ice cube trays. Store frozen cubes in a freezer bag. Cucumber cubes make a wonderful addition to green smoothies. You can also use them to chill water or juice.

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