The cucumber is one of my favorite vegetables of all time. It’s great for munching, making salads, soups, sandwiches, and even infused water! It’s crunchy, healthy, and versatile; a must-have staple in your pantry at all times.
Did you know? Cucumbers are actually 90% water. But they’re packed with nutritional benefits.
Cucumbers are abundant in the summer months of May through August. But what if you want to enjoy them all year long?
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to preserve fresh cucumbers. Freezing them is one way to make them last all winter long. Here are some of the many ways to freeze your cucumbers and dramatically increase their shelf life.
How to Freeze Cucumbers
Because they’ve got such high water content, some people are hesitant to freeze them. But, think of it this way: frozen cucumbers are much better than no cucumbers at all. That’s why the concept of freezing came to be!
Frozen cucumbers are nowhere near as good as fresh ones. The texture turns spongy and the taste becomes milder than normal. But there are ways to retain their wonderful crunch.
The cucumbers’ best chance at surviving in the freezer is to pickle them. When preserved in vinegar or brine, cucumbers retain their crunch! Use your favorite pickling recipe, place the cucumbers in freezer-safe bags or jars, and freeze away.
4 Different Freezing Methods
1. Cut unpeeled cucumbers into thin slices. Place them in a large bowl together with some sliced onions. Flavor the veggies with salt and soak in cold water. Let it sit for two hours and drain the liquid off.
In a saucepan, add vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Let it simmer until the sugar is dissolved and then let it cool to room temperature.
Pour the mixture over the cucumbers and onions and mix.
Transfer to a plastic container, leaving ¼ inch of space at the top, and freeze. Transfer the frozen pickles in the fridge at least four hours before serving.
2. Place thinly sliced cucumbers in a freezer-safe bowl. Combine water, sugar, salt, and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Pour the mixture over the cucumbers once it cools to room temperature. Be sure to leave ¼ inches of space at the top for expansion. Cover the bowl and freeze.
3. Combine cucumber slices, onion, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Let it sit for 2 hours and drain excess liquid.
In a separate bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, celery seeds, and mustard seeds. Pour the mixture over the cucumbers and refrigerate for 2 days. Place the pickles into freezer-safe containers and freeze.
4. Instead of pickling, you can also puree cucumber instead. Pulse peeled cucumbers into a blender. Then, pour that green goodness into ice cube trays – pick different ice cube shapes for more variety. Freeze the trays for a few hours, then transfer the frozen puree into a sealed container and freeze.
How to Freeze Cucumber Slices
Here’s how to prepare fresh cucumbers for freezing:
Rinse them well and then cut into thin slices. Arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze for around 30 minutes to an hour. Transfer the cucumbers into a freezer bag and freeze.
Alternatively, you can slice them in spears instead of rounds. Arrange them in a single layer in a container or plastic bag and freeze.
How to Thaw Frozen Cucumbers
Take the cucumbers out of the freezer and let them warm to room temperature. Once they thaw, squeeze some of the liquid out, and they’re ready for use.
How to Use Frozen Cucumbers
While frozen cucumbers do not have the same quality as fresh ones, there are still several ways you can use them.
Believe it or not, frozen cucumber slices and spears may be munched on as is. But, if you’re not too keen on doing so, you can also use them as an ingredient in sandwiches, smoothies, chilled soups, and cucumber water.
- If making green juice, just add a handful of frozen slices into the blender along with the other ingredients and pulse away. They offer the same nutritional value and since they’ll be pureed anyway, you won’t notice the different taste and texture.
- For smoothies, simply throw in the cucumber slices into your favorite fruit smoothie.
- You can even turn these frozen beauties into a sorbet! Combine frozen slices with your favorite fruits and berries, blend, and freeze.
- Or, if you want to make a dip or spread, combine frozen cucumber slices with cream cheese and your choice of herbs. Blend together for a perfectly creamy and flavorful dip.
- Make infused water by adding frozen slices to a glass or pitcher of water. Add some lemon slices and mint for even more nutrition and flavor!
- Or, blend the cucumber slices with yogurt and dill, and you’ve got yourself a delicious chilled soup.
If you don’t want them in your mouth, put them on your face instead. Here’s how to use them in facial masks:
Spread thawed pureed cucumber all over your face and massage away. Let it stay on your face for a few minutes before rinsing. You may also incorporate other ingredients to enhance the benefits of your mask. For instance, avocados make great moisturizers, while vinegar is awesome for toning and cleansing.
Sliced cucumbers help refresh tired eyes! They get rid of those nasty eye bags and under-eye circles. Simply place these frozen slices over your eyes for a few minutes and let them do their magic.
Who knew cucumbers had so many uses! Let me know in the comments how you like to use and preserve your cucumbers.
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Another suggestion: Shred them. If they are regular cucumbers, peel, slice off both ends about 1/8 inch, remove the seeds in the middle, and shred. For leftover pickling cucumbers, simply do the same slicing and peeling, and don’t even bother removing the seeds in the middle. They are less watery to begin with and the seeds are so small, they won’t even be noticed. Place two cups in a quart size freezer bag, flatten out, remove the air, and stack them in the freezer. These can be used to make cucumber quick bread or as a substitute in many zucchini bread and muffin recipes. You won’t even notice them in there. Just defrost, drain in a fine mesh sieve for about thirty minutes, press them at first while draining, then squeeze them out and use them for quick bread and muffins. When the snow flurries fly and you want a taste of summer, they are ready to use.