My original recipe for this, passed down from my mom on a handwritten 3×5 card, is named “Ice Box Pickles” for the days when large blocks of ice were cut during the winter, buried in straw through the summer, and delivered house to house on a horse-drawn wagon. A modern-day, electric-powered freezer works just as well, though, for one my favorite ways of highlighting the season’s crisp cucumbers.
I used to make these in college, when canning was out of the question. Even my little refrigerator cube, hidden away from the dorm inspectors inside my closet and sporting only a tiny “freezer” shelf, could finish decent pickles. It’s an easy, low-maintenance recipe that’s perfect for lazy weekends.
Fresh seeds collected from the ripened heads of dill plants were a recent garnish for my latest batch of these crisp, cold pickles. But I also love fresh or dried dills leaves, whole mustard seeds, tiny celery seeds, or even a hint of gorgeous sumac.
Freezer pickles are perfect for accompanying sandwiches or, if you tend towards a sour palate like me, a refreshing snack spooned straight from the jar.
They’re super easy to make, so be sure to make a couple of extra jars that you can share with a neighbor or friend, bring to a potluck or picnic, or enjoy all the way through the waning days of August.
Makes: 3 half-pint jars.
4 cups thinly sliced pickling, Japanese, or Armenian cucumbers
1 small, thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1-2 cups sugar (depending on your taste for sweetness)
1 cup white, distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons dill, celery, or mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes or 1 fresh chile, sliced thinly (optional)
1. Toss together the cucumber slices, red onion, and salt. Refrigerate this mixture overnight. Rinse well, then squeeze dry in a clean cloth or press well against a colander to remove as much moisture as possible.
2. In a glass, plastic or ceramic bowl, stir together vinegar, sugar, and spices. Add the cucumber and stir well with a wooden spoon or your hands.
3. Pack into glass jars, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace, and freeze at least 24 hours. Thaw pickles in serving bowl for at least 10 minutes just before serving.