How to Freeze Cucumbers - the Ultimate Guide
Can you freeze cucumbers? Surprisingly, you can--and it is so much easier than you might think!
Cucumbers aren't likely the first thing that comes to mind when you are thinking about foods you can freeze. However, provided you know how to freeze cucumbers properly, you can store them for a very long time and there are some really interesting ways to do it. Plus you'll LOVE all of the things you can do with frozen cucumbers.
It's great that cucumbers are one of the easiest crops to grow as a beginner, even if you don't have much space, but you can easily end up with way too many on your hands after a bumper crop.
Now, you could give lots away to your neighbors and feed your family cucumbers every day for a month. The neighbors will appreciate you, but your family is likely going to get fed up with cucumber salad, and endless tzatziki dip.
The easiest way to deal with this problem is to learn how to freeze cucumbers and to do it the right way. Here's how!
Should You Peel Cucumbers?
First of all, should you peel cucumbers or if it's better to leave the skin on.
In a perfect world, you shouldn't peel cucumbers, since the skin contains a lot of nutrients, however, unless your cucumbers are organic, or you've grown them yourself without pesticides, or got them from a quality CSA / farmers market, then you should peel your cucumbers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture at one point apparently found more than 35 pesticides on the common cucumber. (source) On this site you can see some of the names of the toxic chemicals that might be lurking on your cucumbers. This post about pesticides on strawberries addresses this concern in more detail.
Besides pesticides, even if you buy organic cucumbers from the store you probably should consider peeling them.
Because of wax!
I was pretty shocked to learn that store-bought cucumbers (even organic ones) are likely to have a wax coating.
Wax helps keep the moisture in and promotes a longer shelf life, but it's still--wax.
Fortunately, if you buy organic cucumbers, the USDA labeling laws state that the coating needs to be a non-synthetic wax.
Bottom line--if you buy conventional cucumbers from the store then I recommend peeling to avoid consuming synthetic wax in addition to harmful pesticides.
Health Benefits of Cucumber
Cucumbers are about 90% water which makes them tough to freeze--and as such, you might not think they are very nutritious, but they are!
- A serving of one cup of cucumbers has just 16 calories and 1 gram of fiber.
- Cucumbers are rich in nutrients such as Vitamin C, Potassium, Manganese and Magnesium.
- One cup of cucumber has a whopping 62% of your daily Vitamin K requirement.
- Cucumbers are high in antioxidants such as beta carotene and flavonoids.
- Cucumbers are low in carbs so they're great for those who follow a keto diet
- Because of their high water content, cucumbers help keep you hydrated.
How Long Do Cucumbers Last in the Freezer?
Done properly, frozen cucumbers can last up to 6 months or more in the freezer.
Note: always be sure to label frozen food with the date that you froze it. Otherwise you'll have a lot of freezer burn on your hands!
These dissolvable freezer labels are interesting, but there are cheaper options.
Painter's Tape! Just tear off a piece and put the item and date on with a sharpie. The tape doesn't tend to stick on containers!
Or use my Favorite DIY frugal version - simply write on a small piece of paper and tape it on with normal scotch tape. Plus you can ditch the Sharpie toxins (which includes endocrine disruptors)!
When storing frozen cucumbers, air is not your friend.
Food Saver is a great way to go, or you can use the "Poor Man's Food Saver" method:
- put the frozen cukes in a bag
- insert a straw in the bag
- close the bag most of the way
- press as much air out of the bag as possible
- suck the air out the bag, then
- pull the straw out and close the bag quickly.
Can You Freeze Cucumber Slices?
Yes you can, but there are a few ways to do it.
You can also freeze cucumber spears, chunks, or dices using either method but the spears will freeze best if you remove the seeds and the surrounding flesh first.
One way is the plain freezing way. However, the best way is to do a quick brine soak first. This will keep the cucumbers crunchy. Either way works, but if you want your cucumbers to be crispy after thawing, then the brine way is best.
Plain Freezing Method
- Wash cucumbers well.
- Slice cucumbers. A mandoline slicer makes slicing a breeze.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Place the cucumber slices in a single layer on the baking tray.
- Put the tray into the freezer for 2 to 3 hours.
- Put the frozen slices into a reusable freezer bag or plastic container. These Resealable BPA Free Bags - are so versatile and much less wasteful than Ziploc bags.
Brine Freezing Method
- Wash cucumbers well.
- Slice the cucumbers into equal slices to make about 8 cups of slices.
- Place the cucumber slices in a bowl with 2 Tablespoons of salt.
- Let the cucumbers sit out for about 2 hours.
- Drain and rinse the cucumbers.
- Put the cucumbers back in a bowl, and add about 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 2/3 cup olive oil or avocado oil, 1/3 cup sugar or low-carb sweetener, and 1 teaspoon celery seed (optional).
- Refrigerate mixture overnight.
- Freeze the brine and cucumbers in mason jars or another freezer-friendly rigid container with at least 1 inch of head space for expansion.
- Freeze for at least a week before thawing and eating.
Related Article: The Best Way to Freeze Avocados
How to Make Cucumber Ice Cubes
In addition to freezing cucumber slices, cubes, or spears, making cucumber ice cubes is another great way to freeze cucumbers.
You can choose pureed, sliced, or cubed, depending on how you wish to use your cucumbers.
Pureed: Simply add the fresh cucumber and a small amount of cold water (if needed) to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour the cucumber puree into the ice cube trays (add some lemon juice if desired) and place in the freezer.
This method is great if you're going to use the cucumber in soups, smoothies, or sorbets (or face masks, for that matter!)
Sliced or Cubed : Another idea is to slice cucumber thinly, then put the slices in an ice cube tray (you can add things like rosemary (pictured) or lemon pieces as well) and fill with water. You'll end up with some fancy-looking ice cubes which are great for party drinks.
You could still use this method for making smoothies and such, but they are so pretty that you'll likely want to use them for cucumber water and fancy drinks.
Now you can have cucumber detox water ice cubes any time you want!
If you have a hard time drinking water (like I do) having cucumber ice cubes at the ready helps me a lot and the taste makes you feel like you're having a day at the spa.
How to Thaw Frozen Cucumbers
You should always defrost cucumbers in the refrigerator. It will usually take between six and eight hours, so you'll need to plan ahead.
Put your frozen cucumbers into a large bowl in the refrigerator.
Once the cucumbers are thawed, drain off the excess water (if desired) and they're ready to use. If you'll be using the cucumbers in a sorbet, smoothie, or soup, then you can likely use the water in the recipe as well.
Don't thaw cucumbers out on the counter at room temperature. Although the chances are low that you'll get ill, it's not the safest method.
If you froze your cucumbers chopped or pureed in ice cube trays, you can put them straight in the blender or pot to make soups, or into your blender to make juice or smoothies.
One thing that you absolutely must not do is to defrost cucumbers in the microwave, that is unless you want to spend the rest of the day cleaning mushy cucumber mess off the walls of your microwave!
Related Article: Can You Really Freeze Tomatoes?
Can You Freeze Pickles?
You can freeze pickles if you'd like, but I'm not sure that it's really worth the time, or worth taking up freezer space to do so since pickles last a long time on the shelf.
Some say that it makes your pickles more crunchy than when they're not frozen, so if that extra crunch is worth it to you, then by all means, do it. Just make sure to leave around a 1/2" gap at the top of your Mason Jar or other air-tight container for your pickles to allow for expansion.
Frozen pickles should last between 9 and 12 months.
How To Use Frozen Cucumbers
You can use the brine-frozen cucumbers pretty much any way you use regular cucumbers--they really do retain their crunch quite well.
However, if you're looking to use frozen cucumbers (the not brined way) for a tasty sandwich you are most likely to be disappointed since the texture isn't going to be quite the same.
Because of the change in texture, it's best to only use non-brined frozen cucumbers in green juices, smoothies, chilled soups, cucumber water, or simply adding them as flavor to your drinks.
But never fear. Even if you don't want to bother with the brining, there are still some great ways to use those crunchless cukes.
Following are some ways to use either type of frozen cucumber, but they will all work for the non-brined type.
- Infused Water: One of the easiest ways to use frozen cucumbers is to make infused water. This is so easy with a jug water infuser or even a water bottle with its own infuser. If you want to add some extra zing add some lemon juice.
- Green Juice and Smoothies: Cucumbers add excellent nutrition to green juice and smoothies. Since you're going to be blending them, the less than ideal texture of the frozen cucumber won't make any difference.
- Face Mask: You can even use frozen cucumber for a cucumber facial mask. Simply puree the cucumber in a blender and strain through a sieve to remove excess water. Or you could just defrost some cucumber puree cubes! Put this fresh face mask or cubes on and enjoy for around 15 minutes before rinsing. Your skin will love it!
- Eye Rescue: Frozen cucumber slices are also great for soothing tired or irritated eyes. Just place a frozen slice on each eye and leave for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Chilled Cucumber Soup: Cold soup might sound odd, but it's actually great!
- Cucumber Dip: Simply defrost some cucumber puree cubes and use in your favorite cucumber dip recipe.
- Cucumber Sorbet: Look for a recipe online or simply put some frozen cucumber in your high powered blender with some water or coconut milk (if needed) and some sweetener, and voila--you'll have fresh and nutritious dessert!
How to Freeze Cucumbers
- 6 medium cucumbers (about 8 cups sliced)
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2/3 cup avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil or other light oil)
- 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup low carb sweetener (or sugar or other sweetener, as desired)
- 1 medium chopped onion (optional)
- 1 teaspoon celery salt (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed (optional)
- Wash cucumbers well.
- Slice cucumbers into equal slices to make about 8 cups of slices.
- Place the cucumber slices in a bowl with 2 Tablespoons of salt. Cover.
- Let sit for about 2 hours.
- Drain and rinse the cucumbers.
- Put the cucumbers back in the bowl. Add the vinegar, oil, sweetener, onion and spices, if using.
- Freeze the brine-soaked cucumbers in mason jars or other freezer-friendly rigid containers, leaving at least 1 inch of head space for expansion.
- Freeze for at least a week before thawing and eating.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.
Now that you know how to freeze cucumbers which method(s) are you going to try?
My Mom used to freeze cukes every year. She used the wax coated boxes with a plastic bag inside. However, I do not remember how she processed them before putting the thin slices in the bags. Salt/blanch/vinegar/not blanched??? Anyway, it was always a real treat to enjoy “fresh” cucumber salads in the middle of January. She would thaw the cukes, then mix them with thin sliced onion, oil and vinegar, and salt and pepper. Yummy!
That's so great! Sounds like what I mentioned in the post! So you're not sure if they were blanched or not, you mean?
Just FYI: neither olive or avocado oils are "light". They are both considered heavy oils with strong flavor.
BUT, this is a great post on how to preserve cukes! THANK you!
Hi there! Extra virgin is pretty light and actually avocado oil is considered to be light in flavor. Could you tell me where you heard that? I used to use it in our Vegan Ranch all the time for its neutrality.
Now I used extra virgin olive which has more flavor but not super heavy.
You are so welcome! If you are so inclined to leave a 5 star review we SO appreciate them. I don't manipulate reviews and they help us of course, but also help readers find good content. Thank you and no pressure.
Perhaps I'm thinking about the cosmetic use of these oils, which, at least for me, tend to be too heavy. And because of the strong flavor of olive oil, I think of it, too, as being a heavy oil.
I guess the difference in cooking and cosmetic use they could be labeled differently ....?
Hi Carol - sorry for the delay. I think it depends on the olive oil type. I don't use refined oils almost ever but there are some olive oils that are lighter than others. I see that avocado is sort of considered both ways for skin and cooking. I've always thought of it as light for eating b/c it's a very mild flavor. Looks like there are descriptions that go in both ways for each oil and each use - so it seems pretty subjective :).
Thank you Adrienne for this fun and informative read!! I’m going to make thinly sliced cucumbers with herbs/spices in ice cube trays for flavored water! Very Impressive! Our cucumbers did great this year. And I have to say home canned dill pickles are a must in our home and so so easy to process!!! That being said, I thought I’d share with you another idea we did, but one would need a juicer. Since we had loads of cukes, the hubby came up with an idea of cuke juice. Now... stay with me, if it’s cold and has a splash of lemon juice and a sprinkling of pink sea salt in it... well, it’s not too bad, and even the kiddos drink it! A tiny pinch of beet juice or powder makes it pink and pretty for the girls. It’s a great way to use up my long Asian cucumbers. Thanks again! I’m always open to great new ideas to use our garden goodness! ?
Aww thank you! I worked hard on this post. I really enjoyed it though. I have another similar one coming soon hopefully!
I would totally drink that - you should see some of the concoctions I come up with. I will have to do a live or other videos. I'm struggling w/ time but I should do it.
We have beet powder too LOL! And again thank YOU - you made my day.