Tuesday's Preserving the Harvest class featured recipes you can make with summer produce that can be stored - that actually get better - in the freezer.
The first recipe we made was gazpacho with fresh, juicy tomatoes. The great thing about parking gazpacho in the freezer is that, upon thawing, the gazpacho is deliciously chilled and even a hint icy, just like you want it. Though the batch we made was fresh, you can imagine how good it would be, oh, a few months from now, say in January, when you're craving the taste of fresh tomatoes.
The other recipe we made was freezer pickles, which had people clamoring for more. The brilliance of freezer pickles is that a brine is made, poured over the cucumbers and lightly "massaged," and then the whole thing - cucumbers and brine - is stored in the freezer, where it stays crisp. We sampled a batch of freezer pickles from last summer, and they were just as crisp as if you had sliced them yesterday. No canning involved!
Now, as you will see from the recipe below, these are what I would call a "dessert" pickle. Several people commented that they have German or Scandinavian associations with the flavor of these pickles. So, perhaps they would be good with fish?
But Applegate hot dogs work just fine, too, as my family and friends will attest.
6 medium tomatoes, peeled, cored, and chopped
5 cups vegetable juice (or 40 oz can)
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. fresh dill, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce (optional)
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients and toss until the vegetables are evenly coated with oil, vinegar, and herbs. Pour into two 1 1/2-quart freezer containers. Seal, label well, and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and store chilled. It will keep for 3 days thawed in the refrigerator. Yields: about 2 quarts.
Freezer Cucumber Pickles
2 pounds pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced
3 medium white onions, thinly sliced
1 large green pepper, thinly sliced
3 Tbs. salt, divided
2 cups sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 Tbs. celery seed
In a large container, combine cucumbers, onions, green pepper and 2 Tbs. salt. Cover with crushed ice; mix well. Refrigerate for 8 hours. Drain; rinse and drain again.
In a saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, celery seed and remaining salt. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute. Let stand until warm.
Divide cucumber mixture into freezer bags or containers. Pour pickling liquid over cucumbers and seal tightly. Label contents, date. Freeze.
Pickles are ready after 2 weeks. Thaw at room temperature for 4 hours before serving.