Frozen Cucumbers? Yes!

Okay, so you CAN freeze cucumbers. We got this first idea below by Julia Martens Fornay on HGTV.1)http://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-to-table/can-you-freeze-cucumbers Their main theme was to pickle them, which we do. But we also wanted the healthiest and freshest cucumber options, and wondered if it works to freeze cucumbers.

But do they taste good?

Frozen cucumbers are better than no cucumbers.

So that’s our take on it. That it’s better to have frozen cucumbers than no cucumbers, however it’s not the most favorite snack in our home. So how we’re using frozen cucumbers that isn’t particular on taste and texture, but still adds nutritional value, is in green juice.

We use frozen cucumbers in green juice and smoothies.

Fortunately cucumber season is a long one. In our zone 7b, we’re planting and harvesting cucumbers all summer. This year we went a bit overboard, but that’s cool because we’re selling surplus to a local specialty pickle maker, while also trying new ways to preserve some for post season use.

Why we want more cucumbers… even beyond cucumber season: Cucumbers are lower in calories and high in potassium. Cucumbers contain helpful amounts of vitamin K, C, A, calcium, iron, and Omega-3 & 6, and phytosterols, beneficial for lowering cholesterol by mitigating cholesterol absorption.

Calories in Cucumber = 16 per 1 cup serving

Cucumber Nutrition and RDA per 1/2 cup serving:

  • Calories – 8
  • Vitamin K – 11%
  • Vitamin C – 7% of RDA
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – 2.6mg
  • Omega-6 fatty acids – 14.6mg
  • Potassium – 2%
  • Magnesium – 2%
  • Manganese – 2%
  • Phytosterols – 7.3% – (helps lower cholesterol)

Source: NutritionData.self.com2)

Cucumber Water

This year we had loads of cucumbers. Looks like somebody planted too many! 😉 But once we’re all pickled out with shelves of canned pickles, jars of refrigerator pickles, and have bags of cuke cubes in the freezer, then we make cucumber water!

Cucumber water is a luxury, so we enjoy it only when there’s an abundant harvest. Otherwise it could be wasteful because after a day and a half, it’s time to toss the batch into the compost and start a new one.

That’s our large, very handy dispensing urn in the photo below. You can see the ice well in the base, which typically helps to keep the cuke water cool enough to last for a full 36 hours. We make it in the morning, adding ice to the base once during the day and again at bedtime, then it’s good through most of the next day. Or we drain the water into a pitcher at day’s end and keep that in the fridge, ready for fresh water in the morning before we make a new batch for the day.

Having this dispenser on the counter with cool cucumbers and other treats floating in it for gentle flavor helps everyone remember to drink plenty of water. So highly recommend this or some kind of dispensing pitcher.

Most of the pitchers you can buy with the fruit well in them, are too small for our family of four, but it you have a smaller family, or just want to start with a smaller pitcher than our 2 gallon beverage dispenser, you might try one of these.

fresh elderberries, cucumber water, lemon balm, mint water
Fresh elderberries and cucumber water made with yellow cucumbers, lemon grass and lemon balm. Image by GardensAll.com

We use our 2 gallon beverage dispenser all summer, plus it’s great for company. For that we make herbal iced tea lightly sweetened with maple syrup and add frozen fruit to float for flavor and garnish.

Okay! So on to frozen cucumbers!

 

Best Ways to Freeze Cucumbers

Frozen Cuke Cubes

This is our favorite way to use frozen cucumbers

Puree cucumbers with enough water to make them slightly pourable. We just got a new Vitamix and gave away our old 25 year old Vitamix to a friend without a blender, because their powerful blender and incredible replacement warranty is totally worth it if you use your blender as much as we do. Our old one actually still works but is on its last legs, especially after I accidentally blended some butter coffee with a tablespoon still in there.😲 But that’s another story. 😜

If you want to know more about the benefits of the delightful and popular butter coffee—my daily favorite—you can read more on that here.2)

Blend the cucumbers and pour into ice cube trays and freeze. I know… who has ice cube trays any more, right?! But… for all of you old enough to have grown up using the metal, and then the plastic versions, you’ll remember that ice cube trays come in handy for many things, and in fact are probably used for far more things than ice in these days of automatic ice dispensers.

If you don’t have any on hand, there are plenty of fun options in all styles and price ranges. We like the flower and heart shaped ones because you can multipurpose them for cookies, candies, soaps and lotion bar, as we wrote about in this article, as well as fun shaped ice cubes of all kinds.

After it’s frozen solid, you can shift these to a freezer bag for storage, ready to use for months of garden fresh cucumbers added to green smoothies and also to water for nutritious favored waters. Add a sprig of mint and a couple squirts of 100% lemon or lime juice and you have a gourmet glass of fancy flavored—real—vitamin water.

Frozen Sliced Cukes

For another way of freezing cucumbers, you might like this slice and freeze method shared by Angi Schneider on SchneiderPeeps.com.

To freeze cucumbers, just wash, slice, put on a baking sheet and put in the freezer. I like to line a baking sheet with parchment paper to help them come off easier once they are frozen. After they are frozen you can move them to a zippered freezer bag. 

To make infused water, put cucumber slices in a pitcher of water.

shutterstock_277219841 (1)

You could also use frozen cucumbers in cucumber soup2)http://thehealthyfoodie.com/cold-cucumber-soup/ or smoothies.3)http://www.schneiderpeeps.com/preserving-cucumbers-canning-fermenting-freezing-dehydrating/

We like to use an infuser pitcher because it keeps the edibles out of your glass, and makes it easier to remove and add new ones. There are so many on the market now that you can take your pick.

You can also use individual infuser bottles to take with you to work or on the go. Or, you may enjoy nibbling the fresh produce as you sip your infused water.

shutterstock_281291144It’s generally best to consume this water the same day, and thoroughly clean your infuser bottle each day, as the fresh perishables do have a short shelf life when soaked this way.

Keeping a fresh infuser pitcher is a great way to helps encourage the family to drink enough water.

It’s also a whole lot cheaper than so called “Vitamin Water”, which isn’t actually healthy, because it typically contains sugar and even high fructose corn syrup. Yuk!

shutterstock_306798353

Speaking of Healthy Snacks…

For larger families or entertaining, we use this counter top urn dispenser, which we can keep chilled with ice in the urn stand for easy access all day long without having to open the fridge door. You’d be surprised how much having easy access to healthy snacks and drinks, (place a bowl of fresh fruit and raw nuts nearby too), will increase healthy snacking and decreasing junk food foraging.

My husband, Coleman, loves to snack on pistachios in the shell, so we got him a cool pistachio snacking bowl with one side for the pistachio and the other for the used shells, which then go into compost. The good thing about eating nuts in the shell is that you don’t eat as much, which is really more how nature intended. Working for the nut by shelling, burns calories and slows down consumption!

One other healthy tip: Keep a tray of sliced veggies on hand in grab-and-go in plastic zipper bags or single serving sized containers. The easier you can make healthy snacking the more likely you and your family will be to cultivate that habit… which is a habit for life!

Healthy snacks – a habit for LIFE!

In our family we also enjoy freezing peeled, ripe bananas for a natural “popsicle” (we just eat them from a plastic bag as a holder, don’t even need to blend them to freeze, though frozen smoothies of all kinds are scrumptious healthy treats too. Also, grapes, berries, deseeded cherries (my favorite) and chopped watermelon. Yep… frozen watermelon balls or chunks makes a delicious summer snack. It’s refreshingly cold and being frozen slows down how fast the food is consumed, which is better for you and means you don’t tend to eat as much. I can ravish a large cluster of grapes in no time, but frozen grapes, not so much. Grapes are a high sugar snack, so less is better.

More Cool Cuke Ideas from GardensAll Facebook Community Members

Freezing Cucumbers

Randy Jones: Cut in half long ways. Glide a spoon down to remove the seeds. Cut it into smaller pieces. Vacuum sealer them and use them in smoothie. Lasts a few years in freezer.

Eva Fenyvesy: Yes, you can freeze it!

To Freeze: Just slice up and portion it in plastic bags.

To Defrost: Set out to room temperature and once it’s defrosted, squeeze it a little bit to get the liquid out, then add salad dressing. We used to make a salt, vinegar, sugar and chopped garlic water dressing, or substitute the water with sour cream [yogurt or mayonnaise].

you can freeze cucumbers
Sliced Cucumbers to freeze. Image by Eva Fenyvesy.

Fermented Cucumbers

Eva Fenyvesy: Put a bunch of dill on the bottom of a large glass jar, place the cucumbers in it (about 6″ long ones, cut off the ends and split both end almost to the end), cover it with salty warm water, place 2 slices of bread on the top, (or the end of a bread or a potato-cut it in half), cover it and leave it on a very warm place for 2-4 days. After it’s done , you can keep it in the fridge , we finished it in February ,and it was made in August. The bread or potato start the fermentation process. It’s very healthy [probiotic] and the juice is so delicious on a hot summer day! You can do shredded cabbage and other vegetables, ( zucchini , cauliflower…etc..) like this , but cucumber is number one!

preserve cucumbers
Fermented cucumbers – image by Eva Fenyvesy

Eva Fenyvesy continues: My friend used to make fermented vegetables like this:

Fermented Vegetable Recipe

  • Place a bunch of dill on the bottom of a jar  
  • Fill it up with whatever vegetables you have. E.g.: cucumbers , carrots , peppers, zucchini….etc,
  • Pours salty water (1 quart water/1Tbs salt) on it, close it and put it in a dry, cool place.
  • Open it after 3 or 4 months.
Fermented Veggies – dill with water, salt and whatever veggies you have to preserve. Image contributed by Eva Fenyvesy.

 

Eva says, “I’ve never tried it, but that everyone who did said it’s delicious. Her friend is in another country and uses these plastic mineral water bottles.

We use this ceramic crock by Ohio Stoneware for our fermenting, and we’re eager to branch into trying some of these recipes for cucumbers.

In researching fermentation jars, we found cool fermenter jar called The Easy Fermenter, that looks like an upgrade in terms of ease of handling and storage. Each jar wouldn’t hold as much, but I like that you can store the fermented foods in the same jar that you use to ferment it.

Fermentation Jars, an innovation on the age old stoneware fermentation systems. Image by Nourished Essentials on Amazon.

While this kit costs less than a stoneware fermentation pot, you might need extra jars. However, even two jar kits cost about the price of one stoneware pot, plus you save time on labor and the mess of transporting it to other jars. So we’re adding this to our list to try.

Cucumbers Salads and Sauces

Cucumbers with Tzatziki Sauce

Gina Jensen Wyatt. Haven’t tried freezing them. I do like to make large batches of Tzatziki sauce [a Ukranian sauce] which extends the shelf life of cucumbers. It’s a yogurt and cucumber based sauce used on souvlaki and gyros. A great dip for veggies.

Rebecca Maurer-Milota: Pita chips too. Didn’t have the yogurt and used sour cream. Just as good.

Ann Weekley: YES add a little mint and finely chopped onion and it’s fabulous.

 

Debra Swanson Doyle: Freezing is tough on cukes because of their high water content. Our favorite way to preserve them is pickling–both a quick refrigerator pickle with onions, and the classic water bath glass jar pickle, for a nice long shelf life.

Debra Swanson Doyle – Grandma’s Cucumbers & Onions Recipe

  • Slice desired amount of cukes and onions thin
  • Place onions on the bottom of a glass dish
  • Barely cover with apple cider vinegar
  • Add cucumbers
  • Add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt, pepper if desired
  • Fill dish to the top with water and let pickle in the fridg for a couple of hours

This was a summer staple on our table—an old fashioned recipe that goes with everything! 😋🥒

Polish Pickles

Cathleen Grove: I did extensive research for my attempt to replicate my Dad’s awesome crock dill pickles. My favorite treat as a child. The hardest part was finding a recipe. He used little or no garlic with lots of dill from the garden. When I found one for Polish Dills that called for grape leaves, I knew this was it! I had forgotten about that so I proceeded ahead & packed 8lbs of cukes into my crock yesterday. It smells sooo good!
     My job as a child was to wash & dry the cucumbers. I have no idea why he wanted them dried but I did it anyway. I learned so much studying how to make pickles in a crock. The tannins in grape leaves help in crispness, for example. And the salt options were interesting. I ended up using pickling salt like Dad. I’m 24 hours into my first attempt at Dad’s Polish Pickles. 

homemade dill pickles
Homemade Polish dill pickles marinating in vinegar, dill, grape leaves, garlic and salt. Image by Cathleen Grove

     There is a large plate inside being weighed down by vinegar bottle to keep pickles submerged. I will test them in 5-7 days. I am following technique for ‘Making Sour Pickles’ in Wild Fermentation. I’ll keep you posted.

Pickles “curing” in vinegar. Bottle weighs it down to keep cucumbers submerged in liquid. Image by Cathleen Grove

Fermented Cucumber

Urszula Lewandowski: Fermented are the healthiest and have long shelf life. True probiotics; beneficial especially for people with stomach issues and those taking medications. No sugar or vinegar added.

Fermented everything! Great for natural probiotics. Image by Urszula Lewandowski.

Cucumber Salad

Heidi Marie: If you love cucumber salad you can have it all year long if you freeze your cukes. What we do is:

Freezer Cukes Recipe by Heidi Marie

  • Slice up 2 med cukes about 1/4″ thick
  • Place cucumbers in a bowl of water
  • Add 2 T of Kosher salt
  • Let soak for a few hours in the fridge
  • Then Drain and add 1/4 cup organic cane sugar then freeze in zip lock bags

When you want to make cucumber salad, thaw rinse and add sour cream or I make home made mayo with avocado oil and farm fresh egg. But the cukes still have a crunch, so you can enjoy “garden fresh” cucumbers in winter too…yum!

Peggy Pierce: My favorite is refrigerator pickles with the tart vinegar, salt water brine.

Refrigerator Pickles Recipe by Peggy Pierce

Heat brine (water with salt approximately 1 Tbsp), then layer:

  • Lots of fresh dill weed
  • Garlic cloves
  • Mustard seeds
  • Sweet onions
  • Some peppercorns
  • Cucumbers, however you want, (i.e., slices, wedges or whole)

Pour the hot brine over the pickles screw on top and cool 24 hrs on the counter, then refrigerator. We are still eating last year’s and are delish!

 

Dehydrated Cucumber – by Aimi Isjern

Aimi Isjern: They are really good seasoned and dehydrated like veggie chips. If you make refrigerator pickles with them, let them absorb the flavor, then rinse them to get the excess salt off, oh my gosh, good good good snacking chips, reduces cupboard space over canned pickles, and if you want them as a snack while doing outdoor events, they are perfect. No liquid to deal with. But you can rehydrate them, too.

 

l Cucumber Recipes

Cucumber Water & Blender Drinks

Anne Bundrick: I freeze them and then use them to make cucumber water, which I enjoy year round.

Sally Turner Hastings: Make refreshing blender drinks [with fresh or frozen cukes] with lemon or lime and also gazpacho!

Half Sour Pickles

We learned of “half sour pickles” from the GardensAll Facebook community member, Ann Weekley, and found a recipe for that at BakeAtMidnite.com.4)

These are basically similar to the recipes shared here already. Half sour pickles are a cross between fermented cucumber in brine and refrigerator pickles. Instead of using vinegar, as with fridge pickes, brine is used as with fermented pickles, and they’re seasoned by sitting in the refrigerator for a few days (if you can wait that long).

Vicki Greer: I made a half gal of refrigerator pickles today, using fresh Dill from our garden.

Frig pickles, fridge pickles
Refrigerator pickles made fresh dill and served with garden fresh tomatoes. Image by Vicki Greer

 

Let us know your favorite way to preserve cucumbers and such. We love to hear from you. You can comment below, on Facebook, or send us an email.

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