Welcome to another Seasonal Recipe Round-Up! This time we’re featuring cucumbers (and next time are berries — see schedule below). I’m sharing my tips about cucumbers and you can participate by sharing your own tips and/or recipes in the comments.
What are Cucumbers?
Cucumbers are one of the world’s most popular vegetables. Growing up around lots of Middle Eastern cuisine, I learned to love cucumbers because we ate and used them a lot! Interestingly, they are in the same botanical family as melons. There are two categories of cucumbers — slicing and pickling. The slicers are not as well suited for pickling (thicker skins and they don’t stay so crisp).
How to Choose and Prepare Cucumbers
Which cucumbers you choose depends on your goal. If you’re wanting to pickle them, definitely go for the picklers. Your results will be so much better. Fresh-eating cucumbers (called slicing) have thicker skins and usually you’ll find the larger ones need peeling or else the skin sticks in your teeth. (There are exceptions, however.)
For pickling, harvest your picklers just before usage for the crispest, best results. An ice water bath can help perk up cucumbers for any purpose. In both my online fermenting class and my book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods, I share how to get crisp pickles. I just mentioned one tip — use fresh pickles. Another tip I learned from my friend Sylvia Britton, The Christian HomeKeeper: cut off the blossom end because enzymes in it make mushy pickles. Finally, include something with tannins in your pickles (like oak leaves or black tea).
Cucumbers for fresh eating can be picked and kept in cold storage for some time before eating — a week or two at least. Skinning is the real question here. To decide whether to skin or not, I first inspect the skin. If it is on the thick side, it goes. No one wants skin in their teeth. Or if it is a dish where the skin doesn’t go with the rest of the dish’s texture (like a cucumber yogurt salad or a cold cucumber soup), I skin the cukes. For a sandwich or otherwise “crunchy” dish, a thinner skin is just fine.
Also keep in mind that larger cucumbers have larger seeds — making de-seeding something you might consider. No one wants seeds in their teeth, either!
How to Eat Cucumbers
From sandwiches and salads to cold soups, cucumbers fit in all over. Many cuisines in the world include them. I am mostly familiar with how they are used in Mediterranean dishes — usually fresh and often paired with yogurt, cheese, mint, lemon, dill, and olive oil. Delicious!
How do you eat or prepare cucumbers? Got any tips to share? It is your turn!
How to Participate in the Seasonal Recipe Round-Up
Bloggers and non-bloggers, feel free to add a comment here with your favorite recipes or posts.
Please use real, whole ingredients in recipes, and preferably traditional methods of preparation. Whole ingredients means whole grains, vegetables, legumes, meats, and unrefined sweeteners. In order to keep the integrity of “nourishing” food, I will delete any recipes that use processed, boxed foods. Where possible, incorporate traditional methods of preparation, like soaking, sprouting and fermenting. The idea here is that your recipes and tips should help our readers find traditional methods for preparing seasonal vegetables.
Share Your Cucumber Recipes and Tips!
Seasonal Recipe Round-Up Schedule: July through August
Remember, the round-ups don’t close — you can add your recipes at any time. And I hope you will!
- Friday, July 6, 2012 — Snap Peas
- Friday, July 20, 2012 — Cucumbers
- Friday, August 3, 2012 — Berries
- Friday, August 17, 2012 — Tomatoes
- Friday, August 31, 2012 — Squash
All seasonal recipe round-ups are (and will be) listed on the Recipes page.
Come back on Friday, August 3 for our berries link-up in the Seasonal Recipe Round-Up.
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