Nanny Jean, my mentor, friend, and neighbor when I was just a young wife taught me so much about life, child-rearing, and cooking. Without her I may have given up on serving anything that wasn’t store bought. One of the things she taught me was how to make spiced freezer pickles. These pickles are absolutely wonderful and are still crunchy a year after you put them in the freezer!
This year I had, almost exclusively, strange, mutant pickling cucumbers. They grew incredibly quickly but stayed kind of short and fat. I could look at a close-to-ready pickle size cucumber in the morning and by the evening it had morphed into some odd looking, wanting-to-be-round life form. Obviously these were not going to work for the dill pickles I usually can. So I pulled out my collection of old, handwritten recipes and got to work.
Jean always brined the cucumbers overnight so I do, too. I slice cucumbers until I have about 8 cups. I sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of pickling salt over the layers as I place them in a large container. Then I add enough water to completely cover the cucumbers, cover the container, and let it rest overnight. In the morning I rinse the cucumber slices thoroughly.
Next I slice a large onion about 1/4 inch thick. I then cut the slices into quarters. It wouldn’t hurt to leave them in rings. I just find they’re easier to eat if they’re cut. Left in rings I always have one errant slice that kind of flips up and make me look like I’m sporting a nose ring.
Although I’m not wild about green peppers I do add a small one, mostly for the family members who like them a lot. I remove the stem end so I can get out the core, seeds, and membranes then I just whip out slices using my mandolin. I use the mandolin to slice all the vegetables for these pickles.
In my non-reactive saucepan I pour 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup of white vinegar (I suppose you could use cider vinegar), 1 1/3 cups of sugar, 1 tablespoon of pickling spice, 1 teaspoon of celery seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon dill seeds. I cook this on low heat, stirring constantly (because I just can’t walk away) until the sugar has completely dissolved.
I switch the liquid to a bowl and add about 1/4 cup cold water to help it cool faster. Impatience is my signature mood.
Once it has cooled I pour it over the vegetables and put the lid on the container. I give it a good shake to mix the liquid with the veggies.
The container will go in the refrigerator for about 8 hours and I’ll give it a good shake every couple of hours. Then I’ll distribute the Spiced Freezer Pickles into freezer bags. To make sure I have room for expansion I won’t squeeze out every last bit of air in the bag. I don’t want them bursting in the freezer!
Spiced Freezer Pickles
- 8 cups cucumbers, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
2 Tablespoons pickling salt
1 large onion, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
- 1 small green pepper, sliced about 1/4 inch thick (optional) *
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon mixed pickling spices
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon dill seeds
- 1/4 cup cold water
- Combine the cucumbers and salt.
- Cover cucumbers completely with water and cover the container.
- Let stand overnight.
- Drain and rinse well.
- Add the onion and green pepper (if using) to the cucumbers.
- Combine the sugar, vinegar, 1/2 cup water, pickling spice, celery seeds, and dill seeds in a non-reactive pan and cook over low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Transfer the liquid to a bowl and add an additional 1/4 cup of cold water.
- When the liquid is cool pour it over the vegetables and cover.
- Refrigerate for about 8 hours, shaking the container occasionally to distribute the liquid.
- Put the pickles in freezer bags or freezer containers leaving headspace to allow for expansion.
When you’re ready to eat your pickles just thaw them in the refrigerator for a few hours.
*You could also use 1/2 green and 1/2 red peppers