Monday, August 2, 2010

Market Madness: cucumbers!

I have been known to make an entire meal out of a favorite fruit or vegetable using the "slice and shovel" method. One of my favorite summertime choices for this is the cucumber. Ice cold, sliced into rounds, and piled on a plate. A little ranch dressing if I'm feeling adventurous.

You have to be careful with cukes. They can be grainy and tasteless, or squishy and sour if you don't choose wisely.

Most "store" cucumbers should be a nice deep green in color, with firm flesh. Size is not always an indicator of taste, so don't be afraid to choose smaller cukes over their dinosaur-sized counterparts. Dynamite comes in small packages, and better flavor often does, too.

If you're buying from a Farmer's Market, you have the luxury of being able to do a background check on your produce. What variety, when it was picked, and so forth. Most gardeners are (justifiably) proud of their knowledge, and are usually happy to answer questions.

Once you get your haul home, give the cukes a good scrub to remove dirt or shipping wax (applied to seal in moisture and prevent skin damage in transit), then decide how you want to serve them. Straight up? Salad? How about a cuke-kebab? If you're in the mood for something different, why not try some cucumber soup? The recipe uses chicken broth and sour cream, making it unsuitable for folks who prefer to avoid animal products, but I'm willing to bet that there are some clever substitutions available that could make it work for most any dietary needs.

How do you like your cukes?


  1. When I was a kid, my dad's garden produced tons of cucumbers. Mom sliced cukes and onions and put them in a vinegar/water mix with salt and pepper, then let them soak in the refrigerator. Chilled and served as a salad-like side dish, they were tart and crispy and delicious.

  2. I was going to say the same thing as Patricia! Cucumber salad is always good.

  3. I slice them long and eat them with salt and pepper. Divine.
    Sometimes, I grate them, squeeze the water out (and drink that), then mix it with beaten curd and salt.

  4. Hmm, I've tried the "refrigerator pickles", and various salads, but I've never heard about the curd recipe. Sounds like something to look into!

  5. I blogged about my refrigerator pickles yesterday at my web site.

    My late mother-in-law used to cut up cucumbers and onions and refrigerate them in milk, salt and pepper!

    And, here in the Louisville area, we make Benedictine, named after Louisville restaurateur Jenny Benedict: Peel and seed medium cucumber, shred and sprinkle with salt and let drain in a colander over a bowl. Squeeze out some of the moisture. In a blender, combine cucumber, cream cheese, a touch of onion and blend. Add some of the juice, if needed, to make spreadable.

    Marian Allen


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