Canning is something that I’m afraid to try. It’s a stupid fear, but a fear none the less. I’ll get over it. Just like I did with yeast and bread making. I can do it. But in the meantime, I’m going to make freezer pickles. Haven’t heard of freezer pickles? Well, you are missing out. For one thing, they are easy to do. Maybe not as simple and as instantly gratifying as a quickle, but I’d say the satisfaction level on these pickled babies are sky high.
For one thing, you can use regular cucumbers–any kind of cucumber in fact. I had 2 different types of cucumbers from our CSA, a regular field cuke and another kinda fancy heirloom variety, and they both worked out just fine. The slices of cucumbers and onions get salted for a couple of hours to leech out the water which helps to make these pickles oh-so crisp and crunchy. Then they get spiced up with dried hot peppers (I went a little nuts here in a good way) and get kind of earthy and yellowy with a bit of turmeric. Sugar and vinegar are added and then they sit in the fridge for a couple of days.
I tasted them while in the fridge stage and they were perfect: crisp and popped of flavour. But I froze them because that’s just what you do with freezer pickles. Why freeze ’em when they taste just fine in the fridge? Well, I searched long and hard for a good solid answer and I don’t have one. Some say that freezing breaks down the cell walls of the pickles allowing the brine to permeate the cuke quicker while others say that the opposite happens and the pickling essentially stops. In university, I took science for art students so I’m not the one to keep abreast of such matters. I can say that for me it makes storage a lot easier and because they don’t last too long in the fridge, having frozen back-ups makes sense when I’m craving another pickle hit.
And you’ll want another pickle hit. And another, because these pickles are delicious and are truly the best I’ve ever made. Super crunchy (you can hear ’em from the next room) and never slimy. Cornelius says these are his favorite pickles. They’re like bread and butter ones but not too sweet. And they’ve got a good slow burn from the dried chilies, which seems to add more of a burn with each passing day.
Regarding cucumber thickness, I cut these by hand, but you are more than welcome to use a mandoline. I like the assortment of irregularly cut pickles. Some are thinner than others and I prefer the slightly thicker ones – more bite and heft in each bite. Go with your personal preference & you can’t go wrong.
And just a tip when dealing with turmeric. Don’t use your prettiest, oldest Fire king white glass bowl when adding in the turmeric. Not only will it give your pickles a golden hue, but your bowl will stain pretty quickly. It’s not permanent–just have a good scrubbing arm and some baking soda on hand. Easy to solve, but thought a warning should be necessary.
crunchy sweet & spicy freezer pickles
3 cucumbers, sliced thinly
1 large onion, sliced into rings
3 T kosher salt
8-10 dried peppers or a couple fresh ones
1.5 c cider vinegar
1 c water
2/3 c sugar
1/2 t turmeric
In a large bowl, let the cucumbers, onion, salt and peppers mingle for 3 hours in the fridge. Drain the liquid but don’t rinse. In a small saucepan, heat up the vinegar, water, sugar until the sugar melts. Add in the turmeric. Pour over the pickles and keep covered in the fridge for 48 hours, stirring the mixture occasionally. Spoon into freezer containers (glass jars, freezer bags, leftover yogurt containers) leaving about 1 inch head room. I was able to fill up 3 glass jars of Adam’s peanut butter for reference. Freeze pickles for 8 hours or up to 6 months. Thaw in fridge before using & use up within 3 weeks.
I have yet to attempt canning because I have some serious paranoia about it working out. But I love pickles and this looks well worth trying.
Yummm!!! I love a good freezer pickle! Ah and possibly the best combo ever, cheddar cheese and pickles…perfect headache remedy!
Ha ha. I just made refrigerator pickles last night! Now you’ve got me wanting to freeze some and see the difference. Turmeric sounds good. Might try this recipe next! Mine just had celery seeds and mustard seeds. Oh, and green pepper, and onions.
wow! what a great idea.
i recently talked to someone who said they made ‘raw’ freezer applesauce by chopping apples, freezing them, thawing and then pureeing. Similar idea here, I think!
I adore bread & butter pickles, but am a little intimidated by the whole canning process (although I did can some corn relish this weekend at my sister’s house). Can’t wait to try this, though! Thanks for the recipe.
I never liked pickles growing up because I never had a good one. But now I have, and I’m a big fan! I bet doing it yourself—controlling the seasoning, the brine, and all that good stuff—would make a pickle-lover out of anyone.
P.S.: Your Lithuania pictures on Flickr are out of control. What a gorgeous place! I’m itching to go there, and soon. 🙂
Your photos are picklicious. Mmmm, pickles and cheese.
oh gurl do i see you eating pickles with cheddar cheese? yes, a girl after my own heart. ^5
I have sworn off pickling for the season – I have run out of jars and time. These are definitely on next year’s list. My daughter will go crazy for them.
Sounds great, this will be tried, thanks.
I’ve been doing a ton of quick pickling lately..still haven’t quite picked up canning either! these sound super tasty. I think I can make the leap to freezer pickles without too much mayhem ensuing…
Earlier this week I was panicking about what to do with all the cucumbers coming out of my garden at this late stage in the season…thanks for the great tip!
I never knew you could make pickles in the freezer–I have tried refrigerator pickles but we don’t eat them fast enough, so this seems like a good saving option. They sound good!
Awesome! I will try these. And now I can use my old canning jars for these ones. They didn’t fare too well in the boiling/canning water bath unfortunately. But this will work perfectly! Thanks for sharing this recipe. Freezer pickles are excellent! Also, I’ve never heard of them until today.
I am a freezer pickle virgin. You have me convinced, however! They sound wonderful. I’m still very jealous of your CSA…..maybe next year I’ll join up?
I left your blog open on my mother’s computer and now she wants to give your pickles a go! Although I love to cook, my mom is happy to eat a cheese sandwich every night so Wow, you really impressed her!
I’ve had the same intimidation about pickles. These look great! Thanks for the great post.
Oh interesting! I’ve never heard of freezer pickles before, but they sounds awesome! And we love pickles.
Would these definitely not work if you left the cucumbers whole, rather than slicing them? (e.g. with a small, pickling cucumber?)
Delicous looking pickles! Cheddar cheese and pickles go so well together! Next time I’m at the market I’ll have to remember to buy some cukes and try this out.
I also have a serious fear of canning. For me, it all started with Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I loved it, but it scared the HECK out of me with all that talk of brain toxins and the like. No thank you. I know that we humans have been canning for a very, very long time, and that chances are I could pull it off without killing anyone. Maybe one day I’ll give it a shot. Until then, it’s freezer pickles for me. Thanks for the recipe!
I may have to try making these pickles. They look fantastic! I’ve always been “fearful” of canning, too!
I can’t wait to try these – I also have cann-a-phobia. Each summer I tell myself that this will be the year that I can.. but if I’m really honest, I’m kind of lazy and canning involves some research, and some equipment. Freezer pickles sound like my kind of bag!
First of all, I’m happy to hear that someone else is afraid of canning. Maybe you can come down and stay with me and we can get one of the Seattle experts to give us a class. I just need someone to hold my hand. Second, I can eat jars of pickles if allowed. Third, where have I been exactly? I have never heard of freezer pickles. With all the gorgeous cukes in the markets these days, I’m totally making these.
I love refrigerator pickles, but haven’t tried freezer pickles. Looks easy and very delicious. Love your pictures!
Freezer pickles- what a great idea! And here, I have been putting them in the fridge all the this time. I can’t wait to make a big batch.
I’m totally going to be making these once I have some free time after my work trip!
Thanks everyone for your comments!
Dana, I’m shocked that you don’t can. Yes, that would be so fun!
Looks very good! I bet the crunch when you bite into the cucumber is very loud and satisfying!
I want to attempt this and am wondering about the salt. I live in Australia and we don’t actually have kosher salt as readily available. So it’s a choice between table salt and himalayan sea salt (both grains). Would the amount of salt change?
Thanks Chris, that crunch is the best!
Lex, you should be just fine with table salt. I used kosher since that’s what I had on hand. You can keep the amount of salt the same. Let me know how they turn out!
I am definitely making these very soon. Gotta love a crunchy pickle!
Thanks La Gourmandesse, they are crunchy & delicious.
A quickle!! Love that term. It’s really interesting that these pickles are made in the freezer, I’ve never heard of it!! As for the biology behind it, I think if I remember correctly that the cell walls will break once the pickles are thawed. I’m afraid of canning too, mostly because I’m scared of botulism.
Ashley, good to know the science behind it – yet they are still super crunchy when thawed. Seems odd, but it works & no botulism!
Do you put the hot peppers in whole or chopped? I’m looking forward to trying these!
Veronica, I used dried peppers, so I used whole ones. For fresh peppers, I think you can do whatever you like best – chopped for a hotter flavour.
Your pickles look so amazing that a link was provided on Can You Dig It as an example of a sweet and spicy pickle recipe:
What a great way to use homegrown pickles or ones picked up from a CSA.
I am new to all this. we planted a garden for the first time and wow all the cukes, beans and tomatoes. I have tried your recipie and am going to make more. what a great idea. thank you for a wonderful recipie.
This sound great! I was wondering how much is exactly 3 cucumbers? Do you know approximately how many cups to a batch? Cucumbers come in so many sizes and I want to make sure I do everything right. Thanks!
Hi Cecilia, I’d say about 2-3lbs worth of cucumbers – it doesn’t have to be exact. I’ve made these many times and just use 3 large cucumbers from our CSA. I’m sure all the cucumbers have been of different sizes and the recipe has always worked well. Enjoy the pickles!
These pickles are great! I followed the directions and doubled it with a mixture of regular cucumbers and some of the smaller picklers. I also used red pepper flakes for the heat instead of whole dried hot peppers. Even after freezing these were very crunchy and just wonderful!!
Third year I’ve made these. Absolutely delicious. Last year I used this recipe with the stalks I had from trimming my chard for freezing. Cut the stalks about 3″ long and followed the recipe as written. Wonderful. Did some green beans this year, but needed to leave them in the fridge a few more days.
Andy, I love that you used chard stems! I’ll definitely have to try that. So glad this recipe is a keeper 🙂
I’m wondering if you can use less peppers. We love mild spicy pickles.
Janice, yes, absolutely – add in as little as you wish or skip altogether! Make them your own.