Sunday, February 22, 2015

Guest post -- Piper Lamb's Freezer Pickles

Meet Piper Lamb from the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries

by Mary Ellen Hughes

I’m excited to be a guest on Mystery Lover’s Kitchen to share one of my pickling recipes! Writing a Pickled and Preserved mystery series means I’ve tried a great variety of recipes that my character, Piper Lamb, cooks up in the back kitchen of her pickling shop. Piper absolutely loves pickling, which is why she left her hum-drum job (and an ex-fiancé) in Albany to set up a shop in Cloverdale, NY.

I don’t have as much time to make pickles and preserves as Piper does, what with having to write about Piper’s murder-investigating adventures, so my favorite pickles are these quick and easy – and wonderfully tasty—freezer pickles.

I put up bunches of them in August, when my husband’s vegetable garden is overflowing. But cucumbers are also available in the supermarkets at all times of the year. There’s no cooking or canning required, and the pickles last in the freezer for months. When they’ve been defrosted and are refrigerated, they’ll be good for at least three weeks—if they last that long!


8 cups sliced cucumbers
2 medium-sized onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons pickling or kosher salt
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seeds

 Wash and slice the cucumbers. Stir in the sliced onions, then sprinkle with pickling salt. Mix well, cover, and let stand for 3 hours. Rinse the cucumbers and onions well, and drain thoroughly.

Combine sugar, vinegar, and celery seeds, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour the brine over the cucumbers, mix and cover, then refrigerate overnight.

Spoon the cucumbers and onions into straight-sided containers and cover with brine, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Seal and freeze. When ready to defrost, do so in the refrigerator for eight hours.


Piper Lamb knows how to make fruits and vegetables keep for months. Unfortunately, it’s the people around her who are expiring too soon…

After her fiancé left her, Piper came to Cloverdale to rebuild her life and open up her shop, Piper’s Picklings, to sell pickles and preserves. When her ex decides to drop in for a visit—just as things are heating up between her and a local Christmas tree farmer—Piper finds herself in a jam.

But there are other visitors to worry about…

An Italian soccer team is set to play the Cloverdale All-Stars in an exhibition game. Their manager, Raffaele Conti, was a bitter rival of Piper’s dill supplier, local farmer Gerald Standley. After Conti is found dead in Standley’s field, Piper must work to clear Gerald’s name and find out who relished killing Raffaele before the town is soured by another death.

About Mary Ellen:

Mary Ellen Hughes is the author of the Pickled and Preserved Mystery Series, which began with THE PICKLED PIPER and continues with LICENSE TO DILL. A third book, SCENE OF THE BRINE, will be released by Berkley Prime Crime in January, 2016.

She has also authored the Craft Corner Mysteries and the Maggie Olenski, Math Teacher Mysteries. Mary Ellen lives in Maryland with her husband and is happy to have time to spend on her writing after having raised two wonderful children and several delightful cats. (The cats were easier.)


  1. Congrats Mary Ellen! I'll definitely try your method next summer. And your titles are wonderful:)

  2. Ohhh, Mary Ellen! This is perfect. I'm not much of a canner but I love freezing things. This never would have occurred to me. Somehow, I thought cucumbers couldn't be frozen. I'm definitely trying this next summer.

  3. Thanks Lucy/Roberta! Krista, the cucumbers come out nice and crisp! Everyone who's tried them, loves them.

  4. wow what a great and easy to make recipe! Thank you for sharing with us, I am definitely going to have to make these.

  5. A series centered around pickling fascinates me. And we love pickles. This looks so easy to make I will definitely try it.

  6. It really is easy - just a little time involved, but so worth it.

  7. What a clever idea. Judging by the amount of sugar, I assume these are sweet pickles. Can this method be used for pickles that are more garlicky?

  8. Wow we have been to the bookstore everywhere to find a simple canning pickle recipe and now this is great. We will just be adding a little garlic . Thank you so much and i can't wait to read License to Dill my husband is laughing at me as he thought it was just a book and not a recipe.

  9. Delighted to have you here today, Mary Ellen, bringing a little bit of summer sunshine and flavor to the deep midwinter!

  10. Libby, I've seen recipes for freezer pickles with less sugar and a variety of other spices, so I'm sure the garlicky ones would work well.

    PT - hope you enjoy License to Dill!

    Leslie, thank you so much for having me. Summer really is coming!

  11. Going to try this next summer. Thanks.

  12. Thank you SO much for the recipe! Didn't know you could do this with pickles! License To Dill is on my reading list now too! :)

  13. I just got both of your books. I had to order them, the bookstores here didn't have them. I am anxious to read them. Not sure when I will get to them but I have them!

  14. Thanks for the recipe! We have tried "quick" pickling in the fridge before. This looks like it will be a great option when we finally thaw out and my garden is growing again. I just ordered the first book in your series, can't wait till it arrives!

  15. Thank you, all I hope you enjoy your pickles and my Pickled and Preserved books!