Cucumber Recipes

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Let’s face it, cucumbers are not really a cooking vegetable. Like summer squash, they’re loaded with water. Still, when you work with their unique qualities, they can be used in a variety of different ways. Simply slicing them in rounds or quartering lengthwise makes a quick, easy side vegetable. Home-grown cucumbers don’t really need to be peeled, especially Lemon and Crystal Apple cucumbers, which have very thin skins. If you’re not going to peel them, you might want to rub the spines off. When a cucumber salad must sit for a while before it’s eaten, use this technique developed by Cooks Illustrated. Peel and slice the cucumbers, then salt well, put a plastic ziplock bag full of cold water on top, and leave to drain in a colander for at least 30 minutes. The salt makes them exude extra water, and they’ll stay crisp in the salad without diluting the dressing. (You can use the same trick with cabbage for cole slaw.) Give the veggies a really fast sluice under cold water to wash off the extra salt and pat dry with paper towels.

One of the easiest dishes showcases both cucumbers and garden-ripe tomatoes. For this dish you can use either pickling or slicing cukes. If you choose picklers, simply sprinkle them with a bit of sugar. Dice tomatoes and cucumbers in a bowl. If you have some cherry tomatoes in various colors, they make a very colorful salad. Mix gently. Serve. You can also jazz this up with a sprinkle of chopped dill, fresh basil or diced scallions. For a variation on this, mix diced cucumbers with diced watermelon and serve well-chilled. You could sprinkle with finely chopped fresh mint.

Cucumber Sandwiches

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried Italian seasoning (if you’re growing your own, mix equal amounts of basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • A loaf of thin-sliced home-made white bread
  • Several cucumbers, sliced very thin
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed

Mix cream cheese, seasonings and mayonnaise. Sprinkle with dill. Spread the cream cheese mix thinly on both slices of bread, layer with cucumber slices. For a little color and some bite, alternate cucumber slices with thinly sliced radish. Trim crusts; cut in triangles or strips for fancy tea sandwiches.

Sauteed Cucumbers

Just because you don’t usually cook them, doesn’t mean you can’t. Peel cucumbers, slice about ¼ inch thick and sauté in butter until al dente.

Fried Cucumbers with Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. minced chives
  • 1 tbsp. minced parsley
  • 1 tbsp. minced tarragon
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste with
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 small yellow onion, grated, juice reserved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 1⁄2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. celery salt
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1⁄2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1⁄2 lb. cucumbers, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 3″ x ½” sticks

For the sauce, stir together sour cream, milk, juice, chives, parsley, tarragon, garlic paste, onion with juices, and salt and pepper in a bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Pour oil to a depth of 2″ in a 6-qt. Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375°. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, celery salt, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne in a large bowl. Working in batches, add cucumber slices to cornmeal mixture and toss evenly to coat; transfer to oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer slices to a wire rack set over a baking sheet to drain. Serve hot with dipping sauce.

Cacik – Cold Cucumber Soup

  • 2 large slicing cucumbers halved and seeded—1/2 cup finely diced, the rest coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small shallot, chopped1 garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed dill
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons loosely packed tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground white pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped

Probably created in the Ottoman Empire, this is similar to Greek tzatziki. Combine the chopped cucumber in a blender with the yogurt, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, dill, parsley, tarragon and the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Season the soup again just before serving. Pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the finely diced cucumber, red onion and a drizzle of olive oil, and serve.

Grandma Frazier’s Mustard Pickles

  • 6 tbs ground mustard
  • 1 tbs turmeric
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 quarts vinegar
  • 1 quart water
  • 6 cups cucumbers, washed and cut into chunks
  • 5 cups carrots
  • 10 oz lima beans
  • 4 green peppers
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 lb peeled pearl onions
  • 3 pints water
  • 1 pint vinegar
  • ¼ cup salt

This recipe is probably 150 years old, which is why the directions are so brief – nearly all women understood the basic principles of making pickles. Mix first 6 ingredients. Cook vegetables in water, vinegar and salt until crisp-tender. Drain, pour on spice mixture and seal in sterilized jars. Jar tops will probably corrode.

Fermented Pickles

  • 4-6 medium cucumbers for each quart jar
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh dill1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons whey (or additional 1 tablespoon sea salt)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • Other spices of your choice (optional – try coriander, cumin and peppercorns)
  • Peeled garlic cloves (optional, 1-3 per jar)
  • Peppers (optional, 1-2 per jar)
  • Water

Harvest your cucumbers, clean them with fresh cool water, and let them sit in a cold ice bath for 3-4 hours. This step is optional, but will produce a crispier pickle. Clean and sterilize all of your equipment. These pickles will be fermented at room temperature, so everything that will come into contact with your cucumbers, including the knife, the measuring spoons, and the mason jars, should be sterilized. Pack your mason jars with spices, garlic, peppers and dill. Pack your cucumbers in tight and fill with water. The water must be enough to cover your cucumbers, but you also want about 1 inch headspace to allow space for gases that will be released during fermentation. If the cucumbers float, you can stuff a sealed plastic bag filled with water into your jar to help keep everything submerged. Seal the jars tightly. Let your jars rest at room temperature for three to seven days, depending on taste. Refrigerate – if not eaten, they will store for a year.

Kosher Dill Fermented Pickles

  • 4 quarts water
  • 6 tablespoons coarse white salt (kosher, if available)
  • 18-20 pickling cucumbers, scrubbed
  • One or two yellow onions, peeled and sliced in ¼ inch rings
  • 8 cloves peeled garlic
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 large bunch of dill, preferably going to seed, washed

In a large pot, bring 1 quart water to a boil with the salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the remaining water. Prepare three 1-quart wide-mouth jars by running them through the dishwasher or filling them with boiling water, then dumping it out. Pack the cucumbers vertically into the jars, making sure they’re tightly-packed. As you fill the jars, divide the garlic, spices, bay leaves, and dill among them. Fill the jars with brine so that the cucumbers are completely covered. Cover the jars with cheesecloth secured with rubber bands, or cover loosely with the lids. Store in a cool, dark place for 3 days. After 3 days, taste one. The pickles can ferment from 3 to 6 days. The longer the fermentation, the more sour they’ll become. Once the pickles are to your liking, refrigerate them.

Great Aunt Lucille’s Bread and Butter Pickles

  • 8 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumbers
  • 2 cups thinly sliced small white onions
  • 1 qt water with
  • 2 tbs salt
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 4 3 inch cinnamon sticks

Here’s another really old one – probably Civil War vintage. Let cukes stand overnight in salted water. Bring remaining ingredients to boil, add cukes and onions, simmer about 15 minutes, place in sterilized jars and seal.

Sweet Pickle Relish

  • 6 cups washed, diced cucumbers
  • 3 cups washed, diced, mixed red and green bell peppers
  • ¼ cup pickling salt
  • 3 cups chopped sweet or yellow onion
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 ½ tsp celery seed
  • 2 ½ tsp mustard seed
  • ½ tsp turmeric

Sprinkle salt over vegetables and mix. Leave to stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Drain into colander, rinse with cold water and drain again. Combine remaining ingredients in a 4 quart pot on high heat. Bring to boil, add vegetables and return to boil. Cook uncovered at medium heat for 10 minutes. Ladle into jars with ½ inch headspace. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Let cool.

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2 Responses to Cucumber Recipes

  1. littleleftie says:

    These recipes all sound great! Now, if I am lucky enough to actually HAVE any cucumbers this year, I will try some of your recipes. Something is eating my cucumber plants and despite re-planting, spraying with insecticidal soap and doing alot of both cursing and praying!, they are looking “iffy”. Thoughts??

    • Bee says:

      Not sure where you live and pests vary by location. This is a good thumbnail of the most common cucumber pests: https://morningchores.com/cucumber-pests/. A good strong hot pepper spray (just drench the leaves, top and bottom) might make them less tasty to the bugs. Finely chop 10 fresh peppers – the hottest you can find, although generally cayenne is the best choice – or use 3 tablespoons of hot pepper flakes. Simmer for 15-20 minutes in a gallon of water and then let sit, covered, for 24 hours. Strain and add a few drops of biodegradable liquid dish soap (makes it stick to the leaves better). You’ll need to spray every 3 days or so. You can also handpick some of the bigger pests.

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