Freezer Pickles

photo of jars of freezer picklesSo, pickles. I eat a lot of pickles. I think there are certain sandwiches that cannot be eaten without them. And, cheeseburgers just don’t taste right without them. The only thing worse than no pickles is bad pickles.

During my very young days, when my mom was still making my sandwiches, we coined the phrase “9 pickle sandwich” which was my favorite sort. All that meant was “I’ll take whatever you’ve got lady…as long as there are 9 pickles on it.” Why 9? On a sammie made with standard white bread, you can go three regulation pickle chips up, and 3 across, for a total of…yes…9. I abuse elipses, don’t I? I’m starting to come to that conclusion. But, I like them. Just know that I’m aware of the issue.

photo of cucumbers for freezer piclesAnyway, I personally love Best Maid pickles for my day to day pickle usage. Every once in awhile when my sainted mother makes me a sandwich at her house (pimento cheese, usually) she will try to sneak those white kosher pickles on there just to try prove to me that her favorite pickles are better. But she usually has a jar of Best Made pickles hiding way way way in the back of the fridge for when she worries that I’m in a fragile state and pickle switching could be dicey.

Lately, I’ve been eating InAPickle pickles which you can get at our local farmers markets and they are so flipping good. You can find me sometimes standing in the glow of the open fridge, daydreaming with my pinchers in a jar of those. They are sweet and hot. I love them.

But, pickles are funny, really. They are one of those things that everybody used to make themselves. Perhaps not everybody, but many people made them often, canning up the bounty of their gardens for a year round treat. I distinctly remember my Grandma Dean having big jars of pickles in her basement. She did spears in big jars. Or, maybe they were big because I was small. I don’t know. But they were spicy, too.

photo of ingredients for freezer picklesThese are freezer pickles. These are for those of us in that foggy middle-ground who deeply appreciate the heritage art of pickle preserving, but haven’t worked ourselves up to a full blown canning operation. I, personally, have the tools and the will, but have yet to carve out the time. Next week I’m definitely making some jelly and processing the jars and the whole bit. But, I haven’t staged a pickle production, yet. That sounds silly. But, freezer pickles are just that. You slice cucumbers, make a brine, add your goodies, and let them sit to marinate in the refrigerator for 2 days. Then you freeze them. Instead of going down into the basement to grab a jar of pickles that you canned the year before, you just reach into the fridge and grab a freezer container. Thaw them out and they are good for about a week. They are great, actually. They are very fresh and crunchy and taste gardeny in a way that store pickles do not. I’m not giving up my store bought pickles. But these are a treat, and frankly, I like the feeling that I know how to do it.

This recipe makes 4 (8 ounce) jars. Jars are cute. But, you don’t need jars. Use a Tupperware, for all I care. I’m assuming you aren’t nutty enough to keep photographic evidence of every little thing you make so you don’t need your containers to be cute all the time, right? That is all I make because my freezer can be a bit like the Bermuda Triangle.  And, Pitts pretty much despises pickles. The kids taunt him with them, to his unending irritation. “Daddy, I’ve got a present for you,” etc. We have had many hilarious conversations about whether you can draw any cultural conclusions about people (me) who ever made a habit of having “movie pickles” at the movie theater. I think it is a sign of great couth. But, a pound of cucumbers makes a perfect batch for me.

photo of method for making freezer picklesWhereas with true canning, you have to be a bit careful about recipes, this allows for a little more free-wheeling experimentation. So if you want sweeter, add more sugar. If you want it hotter, throw in another jalapeno.

Freezer Pickles
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 pints
This is a great way to preserve some summer produce without having to go through the canning procedures. Please account for 48 hours in the refrigerator before they are ready to freeze or eat.
  • 1 pound sliced pickle cucumbers
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 dried chile arbol (the red things)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 green chile peppers
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 pound sliced pickle cucumbers
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 dried chile arbol (the red things)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 green chile peppers
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  1. Rinse and slice your cucumbers and chop your other vegetables. In a small saucepan, heat the salt, sugar, vinegar and water until the sugar and salt have dissolved and the vinegar has come to a simmer.
  2. Place all of the sliced and chopped vegetables in a medium bowl. Pour the vinegar solution over the vegetables. The solution should just cover the cucumbers. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. Over the next 48 hours, stir the pickles a few times (and eat a few because they are perfectly delicious even at this stage). After 48 hours, you can put them into a freezer container, or jars, and put them in the freezer. If you are putting them into several containers, try to distribute the various goodies in an equitable manner. And, you will likely have leftover brine. You can just discard it. The pickles will keep happily in the freezer for several months.

photo of jars of freezer picklesNote:

You might suspect that I get paid to tout particular products, given how often some names come up, such as InAPickle Pickles. I do not. Nor have I received any in kind payoff like a year supply of pickles. I just actually like some things a great deal. So, I’ll tell you if any company tries to throw money at me. You’ll here me yelling up and down my house from wherever you are. Until then, know that when something is good, works well, tastes great, is made by a great company, or makes me giggle (or angry, for that matter), I’m just letting you know because I like you.


  1. Karen Mertens says

    Have you made refrigerator pickles. I made 3 gallon last summer and was out before the cucumbers from the garden are available. I just don’t think cucumbers from the grocery are good to make pickles. These are good forever and I make them in gallon jars and store them in my spare refrigerator. They are much like bread and butter pickles with the onions, etc. My thought was that I probably would not eat all the thawed pickles in a week and they would be wasted. I just might try these though.

  2. says

    I cannot wait to try this. Our Farmer’s market is full of these little pickling cukes, but I worry—being in the freezer, do the veggies get mushy? Can we not just place these in the jars and leave in the fridge? My little darling adores pickles and this sounds like a fun thing we can do together, but she does not like mushy ones!!

  3. says

    Wow! I had no clue you could freeze pickles! I have a similar refrigerator dill recipe that I love, but I want them to last through the winter. I think I’ll try it out. I’m totally surprised that the pickles stay crispy after being frozen. (P.S.–I found you through Tastespotting!)

  4. Kelly says

    Sissy, I think it all depends on how quickly you go through them. They taste great and are nice and crisp before freezing. You could certainly make smaller batches and keep them in the fridge for a week. Here is my disclaimer: this recipe is not formulated for long term storage, even in the fridge. It might be perfectly fine. There is certainly enough acid in the recipe, right? But I think most canning recipes are very particular in the ratios of acids and other liquids that they use. The bottom line is that they are very particular to keep botulism and other nasties at bay. Refrigeration certainly extends the “shelf life” of the pickles, but for how long I do not know. The freezing, therefore, is a cheat and a way to make a big batch ahead of time and dole them out slowly. I have done a similar freezer recipe and eaten them several months later and they were not mushy. This is a small batch and only made 4 small jars. So it is a good recipe to play with. They are very easy to go through. Perhaps you should eat half without freezing (within a week and a half or so) and throw 2 jars in the freezer and see what you think. In the meantime, I’m going to do more homework on canning and find some recipes that we can all try together. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  5. says

    Yikes! I would’ve never dreamed of any of that!! I will follow your advice and freeze 2 and fridge 2. We’ll see how long they last, with my little darling!
    Thanks for the response!

  6. says

    I just thought I would let you know-I have made the pickles TWICE!
    I adjusted the recipe the second time around, to more of a claussen like taste. This is a great recipe, thank you!

  7. Avie Meadows says

    I am trying this for the first time tonight and found out (too late?) that I added more cucumbers than I had vinegar solution. So I made a quick (smaller) brine so that the liquid would cover the cucumbers. As a complete novice in the kitchen I now wonder if there is such thing as too much vinegar or what if I got the measurments too far off will it still turn out okay?

  8. Kelly says

    I’m sure it will be fine. If you, generally speaking, used similar proportions I’m sure they will be great. Then, you will have a baseline for how you want to flavor them next time around. No worries!

  9. Happier Than A Pig in Mud says

    I made these over the weekend and just posted about it. They are great! Thank you so much for sharing a family recipe, I plan to make it often:@)

  10. CRW says

    I made freezer pickles early in the season when cukes 1st came out…i made the brine and left in fridge for 3 days stirrung everyday. I got some out and they are crispy and crunchy and really good..even i was surprised! now i have gotten another batch of pickles and am going to freeze them too!

  11. says

    I made these last week and tried them out yesterday – yum! I omitted the green and jalapeno chilis since I’m a wimp when it comes to heat and also reduced the sugar in half and they were still quite tasty. Thanks for a solid recipe :)

  12. Kelly says

    Stephanie, I’m so glad that you liked them. They are pretty great, I think. I’m glad to know how you changed them up, too. That is always fun to know.

  13. Shayna says

    I found this recipe on the Pickle Addict’s fb page, and I absolutely want to try it. But alas, I am a pickling virgin. That is not, to say, I have never tried pickles. My nickname as a child was Pickle Puss because they could not keep me away from them (my brother was aptly named the Kielbasa Kid)! I have memories of my grandmothers basement storage of pickles, relishes, jams, jellies, apricots, beets, etc. And now, when I am ready to turn 30 this year and mature enough to embrace pickling, it is too late to ask her. So I have turned to the interwebs, am mildly obsessed with easy pickle recipes like this, and have yet to try one. This one gives me hope, and courage, that I couldn’t possibly screw it up! but I have questions. I already know that I need to find “pickling cucumbers” and can’t just use the English cukes that I buy for salads and sandwiches. But it’s a winter deepfreeze, and farmer’s markets are non existent right now. I live in a metropolis, and I’ve never been to an organic food store, or an actual off-the-truck farmer’s market. So where do I search? Can I find pickling cucumbers in the produce section of Safeway or Super Walmart? Or do I need to look elsewhere? I’m excited~!

  14. Kelly says

    First, you will not mess this up no matter what you find. Some cukes work better than others but they are all good. I have found pickling cucumbers at the grocery store, but it is hit and miss. Sometimes they have them and sometimes they don’t. I happily use smaller, firm, regular cucumbers when I can’t find the pickling cucumbers. It is a cheap and easy recipe so if you don’t love the kind you find, try a different one next time. I also have the best luck finding them at the farmers market, though. Have fun! And thanks for the fun comment.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *