Cucumbers

13 July 2022

Cucumbers grow on a vine that can sprawl along the surface of the ground or allowed to creep up a trellise or other upright structure. The fruit looks like a fat, green tube and is often mistaken for a zucchini squash. From the outside, a cucumber will have tiny nubs where a zucchini is smoother and the end of a zucchini has a little crown and the cucumber doesn’t.

Much like a tomato a cucumber is botanically classified as a fruit but is served and eaten like a vegetable. It is overwhelmingly (95%) water. Early ripening leaves you with a smaller version, which is great for pickling.

Mocktail –

Cucumber Ginger Mint Agua Fresca

Sometimes you want a refreshing drink for the whole family and this is a good choice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large cucumbers cut into chunks (English cukes have fewer seeds)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (8-10 limes depending on size and juiciness)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 10-15 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (1-2 inches)
  • 4 cups water, divided

Directions:

  • Place 2 cups water and the rest of the ingredients in a blender. Cover and blend until the mixture is very smooth.
  • Place a sieve over a pitcher. Pour the agua fresca through the strainer to remove the pulp. Add the remaining 2 cups water. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Pickles –

Pickling is a centuries old method of food preservation. It basically involves placing the food in a brine of salt, acid (vinegar), and water, heating, and then allowing the concoction to cool. White vinegar is the traditional choice for pickles but you could also use apple cider, rice wine, or other vinegars. You can spice it up with a sliced jalapeno or red pepper flakes. You can also incorporate other seasonal veggies like bell peppers or cherry or grape tomatoes.

Quick Refrigerator Pickles

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • ⅓ cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • sliced garden cucumbers (about 2 cups)
  • ½ cup onion or green onion, sliced

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl add the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine and until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the cucumber and onion. Taste and adjust the ingredients to your liking.
  2. All the cucumbers should be covered in the brine, if you have lots of cucumber or are making a big batch, make more brine.
  3. Let the mixture rest in the fridge until you are ready to eat. The flavors develop over time, so an overnight soak is great but at least two hours.

Other –

Tzatziki Sauce

This is a Greek dish that can be used as a dipping sauce, as a salad dressing, a condiment, or in a pita with grilled vegetables (with or without the traditional sliced lamb).

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup finely grated cucumber
  • 1 cup thick whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint, optional

Directions:

  • Place the cucumber on a towel and gently squeeze out the excess water.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, dill, and mint, if using. Chill until ready to use.

Entree –

Tuna Salad Cucumber Boats

Remove the ends of the cucumber and slice lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and some of the pulp. Fill with your favorite tuna salad. What could be easier for a summer entree or quick snack?

Cold Cucumber Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 large cucumbers – peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 ⅓ cups sour cream
  • 1 ⅓ cups plain yogurt
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill

Directions:

Combine cucumber, sour cream, yogurt, vegetable broth, and garlic in a large bowl; blend together using an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in mint and dill. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

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