Cucumbers are nutritious vegetables that are a great source of water and fiber. They're also low in sugar and sodium, making them great to eat as a salad with lettuce, green peppers, and tomatoes. Unfortunately, if it's not appropriately stored, it starts to rot, which leads to waste.
So, can you freeze cucumbers to make it last long? The answer is yes. Freezing cucumber is the easiest way to preserve it. But since cucumber contains lots of water, you have to pickle it first if you don't want it to become soft and mushy as it happens on direct freezing.
Freezing cucumber saves you time while maintaining essential healthy nutrients. This article has covered several different ways to freeze cucumber and five ways to use them.
Can you freeze cucumbers?
To put it simply, "Yes, you can freeze cucumbers." Freezing is a very effective way to preserve it for later use. Once you have done it correctly, it can easily last 10 to 12 months to use when needed.
But you can't simply place the whole cucumber in a freezer as it causes it to become soft and mushy when thawed out. While it's still edible and contains all the required nutrients, but it won't taste good.
The reason is that, unlike most other vegetables, cucumber has over 95% water. Placing it directly in the freezer causes the water to freeze and form small ice crystals. These solid ice crystals damage the delicate cell walls of cucumber. It eventually loses the firmness and becomes mushy.
You can do some preparation before freezing it to help retain its texture and taste. The most common way is to soak it in a brine. The salt in the brine prevents water from forming ice crystals. It keeps cucumber crunchy even after leaving it in the freezer for several months.
Why should you freeze cucumbers?
Cucumber is a rich source of minerals and vitamins while low in carbs and calories. Eating cucumber as salad makes you feel full and hydrated.
It also contains a small amount of vitamin A and C, including minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phytosterols that help lowering cholesterol.
Cucumber is a perishable vegetable that only lasts a couple of days before it starts to rot. If you're growing it in your garden and have harvested more cucumber than you can eat, you need to store it properly.
Here are some reasons to freeze cucumbers:
- Have access to healthy and fresh cucumber all year round
- Saves money on buying cucumbers
- You can use it in different recipes
- Freezing slows the changes in the cucumber that prevent spoilage
How to freeze cucumbers?
There are several different ways to freeze cucumbers. You can choose the method that you find more comfortable using.
Regardless of which method you choose, there are few things that you need to know. When you're choosing cucumber, pick ones that look healthy and fresh and have a firm texture.
If you're harvesting it from your garden, pick it during the cool part of the morning and freeze it within a few hours.
Wash cucumbers thoroughly in cold water and remove any dirt, pest, or insects from it. You may also need an airtight container to store the frozen cucumber.
Choose a freezer-safe container that is large enough to fit cucumbers without twisting or breaking it. It should be durable and easy to seal, so it doesn't allow moisture or vapor to pass inside it.
Make sure the container doesn't become brittle or crack when placed at a low temperature.
Freezing cucumber after blanching
Blanching is a technique of placing cucumber in boiling water or steam for a short period. It helps slow or stops the cucumber's enzymes that can cause the degradation of quality, loss of color, flavor, or texture of fresh cucumbers.
When properly blanched, it cleans the surface from dirt and microorganism, brightens the color, and prevents the loss of nutrients.
It also makes cucumber soft that makes it easier to pack. You should blanch cucumber for over 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful not to overblench it as it causes the loss of flavor, minerals, and vitamins in the cucumber.
You shouldn't do blanching in a microwave. It causes the loss of flavor, texture, and color without activating the necessary enzymes for storage.
After blanching is complete, cool it quickly and thoroughly. You can remove it from the boiling pot and plunge it into the cool water. Cool it for the same time as it took for the blanching.
You can then pack it in a meal-size freezer bag or airtight containers. Pack it tightly, so there isn't enough air inside it. If you're using a freezer bag, fill it enough while leaving space a couple of inches from the top that you can twist and fold back.
Use a twist or rubber band to tight it about 1/2 inches from the cucumber. This allows the cucumber to expand when freeze.
It's preferred to do a quick freeze. You can lower the fridge temperature and place the cucumber pack against the refrigerated surface of the freezer. Maintain freezer temperature below zero degrees F.
Freezing cucumber slice
If you don't want to freeze the whole cucumber, you can slice it and freeze them on a cooking sheet. You should wash it properly to remove any dirt or microorganism before slicing. If there is any wax coating on the surface, soak it in warm water.
Slice cucumber at a 1–2 inches in diameter thickness and place it on the parchment paper that makes it easy to remove after freezing. You can put these frozen cucumber spears in a sealed container or plastic bag and leave them in a freezer.
You can also cut cucumbers in a cube shape and freeze them in ice cube trays. Cut the cucumber into a small cube, place it in an ice tray, and fill it with water.
Once frozen, you can remove these sliced cucumber ice cubes from the tray and seal them in a plastic bag or store them in a plastic container.
Freezing cucumbers in brine
Cucumber pickles are a great way to maintain their flavor while keeping them fresh for a long time.
You can prepare a brine solution by mixing a single cup of apple cider vinegar in two cups of sugar, two tablespoons of salt, and a small amount of onion, mustard, and celery seed. Place the solution in the microwave for 30 seconds and mix it properly.
Slice up the cucumber vertically and place it in a glass jar. You should use a wide-mouth glass jar that makes it easy to remove the cucumber mixture.
Pour the brine solution in a cucumber filled jar, leaving a couple of inches from the top to let the brine solution expand when it freezes. Let it freeze for 2–3 days before you start using it.
The benefit of brine is that it helps cucumber retain its crunchiness. That makes it great to eat as a cucumber salad or use it as a pickle.
Freezing cucumber puree
Freezing cucumber puree is a great way to use it in smoothies or refreshing water in the summer. You should clean the cucumber in lukewarm water and peel it.
Use a blender to make a cucumber puree and fill up the ice cube tray. You can freeze the puree for a couple of hours then transfer it into a sealed bag for later use.
How to Thaw frozen cucumbers
When you're ready to use frozen cucumber, you need to thaw it first. Take out the required cucumber from the freezer and place it in a container.
Let it settle for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature. When it unfreezes, it will release lots of liquid. That's why you should use a deep bowl or container.
You can also move the frozen cucumber from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before, where it will gradually start to thaw without melting.
This is great if you're going to make tzatziki sauce or gazpacho. If you're going to use frozen cucumber to infuse the water, you don't need to thaw outside. Place it directly in a water bottle and let it melt there.
5 of the best ways to use frozen cucumbers
There are several different uses of frozen cucumbers: Here are the five best ways to use them.
- Frozen cucumber slices are a great way to infuse water that makes a refreshing, delicious cucumber flavor juice in a hot summer. You can also add lemon and mint to increase the flavor.
- You can add a frozen slice of cucumber in a blender with other vegetables and fruits to get a refreshing vegetable and fruit cocktail or make a vegan soup. The pureed cucumber can be blended into cold soups with yogurt and cream cheese with sufficient nutrients to keep you healthy, and kids love it.
- Frozen cucumber is a great way to revitalize the skins. Placing it on closed eyes keeps the eyes cool without freezing it too much. The cucumber's high-water content makes it easy to use as there is no risk of spilling water on the couch.
- You can use pickled cucumbers in a salad or snacks that you can pack for lunch or outdoor activities.
- You can add frozen slices of cucumber with other fruits and berries to make a sorbet. This is quite refreshing during the hot summer days.
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