Pickling is an ideal way to save vegetables, but the weeks of storage can be painstaking, especially when you want to taste your homemade pickles right away. Refrigerator or freezer pickles are a shortcut to the traditional brining and jar storage. This method does not require special canning equipment, and you can eat your pickled vegetables in just a few hours.
The beauty of freezer pickles is that you can use any kind of cucumber; they don’t need to be pickling cucumbers. Choose some favorite varieties from the farmer’s market or your garden.
Freezer pickles, like fresh-pack jar pickles, require a vinegar brine. Other than that, you’ll need a colander and freezer-safe container. (Freezer bags or Tupperware work well.)
Start by slicing cucumbers into 1/4-inch thick slices. Add slices to a colander and salt thoroughly to draw out moisture. Let the veggies sit for at least 30 minutes.
Rinse off the salt until the cucumbers taste seasoned but not too salty. add the cucumber slices to a bowl of vinegar brine (outlined below) and stir thoroughly. Pour the vegetables and brine into freezer containers, leaving about 1 inch between the liquid level and the lid. Freeze for several hours. The pickles will become more crisp and flavorful the longer they are frozen and will last in the freezer for about 6 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
Enjoy easy-to-make freezer pickles on their own or as an accompaniment to salads and sandwiches. Try the recipe below for a spiced pickle flavor, or try out a sweet and spicy pickle recipe.
Spiced Vinegar Recipe
(adapted from Back to Basics: Traditional Kitchen Wisdom)
- 2 Tbsp. mustard seeds
- 2 Tbsp. black peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp. allspice berries
- 1 Tbsp. whole cloves
- pinch fresh ginger
- 10 small dried chilies
- 2-1/4 cups malt vinegar
Mix the spices and place in a spice bag or small square of cheesecloth. Boil vinegar with the spices for 10 to 15 minutes. Discard the spice sack and allow spiced vinegar to cool.