Cucumbers are sneaky. They seem to come out of nowhere, one minute they're cheerful yellow flowers, then little green nubs that morph overnight into stripey-bumpy clubs the next. They can lurk beneath the leaves and hide quietly even though you swear you looked in every shady nook.
Miss a few days and you've got a bumper crop. After this viral thing that laid me low for weeks I went cucumber seeking and sure enough I had a boatload of the burpy vegetables. Mid-picking, the hot, hot humidity caught me off guard and the world swirled around. I staggered inside and gathered my wits with a glass of ice water.
Heading off heatstroke, I decided it was a good day for making pickles in the AC. Pickling is undergoing something of a renaissance lately. Why just this summer so far I've eaten pickled ginger, pickled shrimp, pickled onions, pickled peaches and I wasn't even trying. If you've got time, it's a process to be enjoyed with days until a finished product.
If you're short on time and long on cucumbers I'll suggest this quick pickle recipe from the University of Illinois Extension my father-in-law discovered in The Pantagraph several years ago. I used to make refrigerator pickles but this has been my go-to pickle recipe ever since. Sure that's a lot of sugar and they are kind of sweet but the onion tones it down. I like them for a cold snack or in tuna and ham salads for a kick. They are a great garnish for barbecue and other pork dishes too.
Tip: I put them up in small containers (1/2 cuppish) so I only have to thaw out a few at a time.
Nontraditional Sweet Freezer Pickles
This is not your typical pickle recipe. No special equipment or ingredients are needed. This recipe produces a crisp, sweet pickle that goes well in salads, on sandwiches or as a side. The secret to the crisp texture is the sugar, so do not reduce the sugar in the recipe. This recipe works well with slicing, pickling, seedless or hothouse cucumbers.
- 2 quarts cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced (use any variety of cucumber)
- 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon salt (table salt, canning salt or kosher salt can be used)
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
Mix cucumbers, onions and salt in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set the bowl on the counter for 2 hours.
Pour into a colander and drain water from cucumber mixture. Combine sugar and vinegar. Stir well and pour over cucumbers. Pack into freezer containers or zip-closure bags. Freeze immediately. Pickles are ready to eat in 3 or 4 days. They will keep in the freezer for up to one year.