a home cook with notions & an appetite
I had never heard of or tasted freezer pickles until meeting my mother-in-law. Before then, a pickle was a cucumber that’s pickled in a brine (sweet or sour) in a jar. Here were these various recycled containers (she was already green before we were calling it green and re-uses any plastic food container you can think of – spreadable butter, cottage cheese, sour cream, etc.) being pulled from the freezer and left to defrost on the counter in the morning. When opened at lunch, they revealed frozen cucumbers covered in a melting frost of tart sweetness. While you would fully intend to eat one or two pickles, you’d suddenly find yourself halfway through container stopping usually only because you hadn’t let the whole thing defrost all the way through.
Being that we live roughly four states away from Mom and don’t visit anywhere near as often as we like, when we started growing our own pickles in the garden, I knew that a certain quantity would go towards freezer pickles. I don’t believe I’ve ever made the same batch twice. Onions always seem to be present, but I’ve made them with peppers (green) and with overnight soaking and soaking for a few hours and varying spices. They’ve always been sweet. What I love freezer pickles most for is that I can use the cucumbers that are a little big for a jar of traditional pickles.
This is eight pounds of cucumbers. The kind that you will swear were not there the day before when you checked the garden. In checking around for one of my freezer pickle recipes, I find this Easy Freezer Pickle recipe on All Recipes that promises a no-cook recipe. I haven’t ever done a recipe that didn’t involve cooking the sugar/vinegar portion and this was something that appealed with the current heat wave in full swing.
The ingredients are straightforward and not as set-in-stone as one might think:
Alum promises to crisp cucumbers in pickling. Meh. It’s actually something I don’t find necessary for a pickle in general and I definitely don’t value in a freezer pickle at all. And, shocker, I was out of celery seed. I proceeded without both and I promise everything was tasting just fine before it went into the freezer. The onion? That came from the CSA basket this week!
This is how a no-cook freezer pickle works in photos:
Slicing eight pounds of cucumbers is fast work on a mandolin/v-slicer. Same with my onion. Mix with some kosher salt and let it sit out on the counter. The no-cook comes into play by mixing the vinegar and sugar together which would normally be heated until the sugar melts. Instead, the sugar and vinegar sit out (with the seasoning) until the vinegar naturally melts the sugar. While all of this goes on, it’s more than enough time to watch, say, Cedar Rapids and The Seven-Year Itch from your Netflix DVD stash. I got a lot of water in the cucumber/onion mixture that needed to be drained and rinsed, but remembering that a colander isn’t just for spaghetti tends to get me through projects like this. The most plesant suprise of this technique was seeing that the vinegar/sugar mixture was a syrup (I did stir every so often) without having to cook it down to that stage. After this, it was a simple as mixing the syrup and cucumbers together and transferring them to baggies (I got 4) that are now in the freezer waiting to be defrosted and eaten. As you can see, I’m not good about saving various plastic containers, so the Ziploc corporation rescues me on a regular basis.