TOO MUCH CUCUMBER
With a new sunny garden this year, I decided to try to grow cucumber. OH MY GOD! Every time I go out there, I'm surprised by a huge behemoth of a cucumber that wasn't there two days ago. I'm beginning to run out of cucumber ideas! What do you do with huge cukes? Does the flavor change as they get so large?
Also, what are your favorite cucumber recipes? I usually make Asian cucumber salad (rice vinegar, sugar, red pepper) and variations on Greek salad. These are lovely, but getting repetitive.
Our CSA has given us so many cucumbers this year, but I no longer fear them. Instead, I turn them into a lovely cucumber vanilla granita. No recipe--you have to do it by taste. First, make a simple syrup: use 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. Simmer a vanilla bean (no need to split it; subtlety is what you want) in this for 10 minutes. Remove the bean, rinse and dry it for another use. Let the syrup cool. You can do the syrup a day ahead. Peel and seed your cukes, then puree the heck out of them, adding lime or lemon juice to make the job easier and brighten the flavor. Depending on how many cukes you have, this makes a mess and takes forever, and you have to do it in batches. When they are really, really slushy, drain them a bit at a time into a sieve over a large bowl. Press until all the juice is extracted. Discard the pulp. The juice is what you want! Now stir the vanilla syrup into the cuke-lime juice to taste. You want it slightly too sweet as it will taste less sweet when frozen. Pour into a plastic or pyrex oblong pan and freeze, stirring every 40 minutes with a fork for HOURS and HOURS to get rid of large chunks and fluff it up. Alternatively, you can freeze it in your ice cream maker to make sorbet.
You can also mix up a whole mess of diced cucumber with tomato, avocado, cilantro, scallions, and a bit of acidity (I dig lime or lemon over vinegar) with some marinaded shrimp and octopus or squid for a great chilled dish with greens or chips. I also like to add some pickled jalapeño, jicima, roasted corn, and whatever compatible fresh veggies happen to be hanging about threatening to go wrong. If the cukes have gone a little bitter, you can always let them hang out with the acid and a bit of salt until they start to chill out before mixing it all up.
i don't think it has been mentioned yet, but the august 2010 issue of southern living magazine has a section on cucumbers, and had an interesting recipe for fried cucumbers. i haven't tried it, but i'll bet it might give one a mouthfeel like fried green tomatoes. anyway, it sounds good to me (though the call for a lemon-lime soda in the batter seems a bit strange): http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec... i'd rather use seltzer water with fresh lemon and lime juice added.
I sympathize! We're eating cucumbers every day. I work hard to vary the offerings. I chop them up for just about any salad. Tonight we had pesto chicken with chopped cucumber and Kamut (a type of whole wheat, but it could be any grain: rice, barley, quinoa, etc.). I find if I think of them as almost a lettuce substitute, I can use them in many salads.
Chinese-style: Dress with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil
Thai-style: Dress with lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, hot chiles
Greek-style: Chop with tomatoes, feta, black olives, a little EVOO & vinegar
German-style (at least, in my family!): Salt, drain, sprinkle with copious black peppers and just a few tablespoons of milk or half & half. (The salty, peppery, liquid that results is part of the treat, so don't discard it.)
I love making a cucumber salad-salsa.
Peel your cukes, slice in half and then de-seed.
Then cut into bite-size chunks, about 1/2 inch or so.
Prepare the following marinade.
-Rice wine vinegar
-White ground pepper
-Red chili flakes (optional)
Mix all of the above and then toss with the cucumbers. Refrigerate overnight. Serve with a drizzle of sesame oil.
You must of added this recipe to ch once before, because I got the idea from someone on here to add the fresh garlic (I'd done the chili flakes before). Sometimes a little mint, not too much is a nice addition. If it was you, thank you! Its one our favorite salads, although I confess sometimes I don't always hold it overnight!
a great panzanella salad
and my sister has been drinking an awesome summer gin drink w/ cuks
I realize this suggestion doesn't necessarily help you with using up the cukes you're growing, but I suggest you pick them before they get too big. The bigger they get the more bitter they are and the seeds get really big too. When we had too many vegetables I brought the excess to my office and everybody was pleased.
Koreans love cucumbers. Here are a few ways to use some up -
Oi Kimchi - Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi
6 medium un-waxed cucumbers
2 tablespoons salt
1 bunch chives
6 green onions
1 small Daikon radish
4 cloves garlic
1/2 small white or yellow onion
1 ounce fresh ginger
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons medium ground red chili pepper
1 tablespoon fine ground red chili pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
Prepare the Cucumbers:
Cut cucumbers in half across the middle.
Slice the cucumber sections in half lengthwise, leaving the last 1/4 inch uncut.
Turn the cucumber section half way and repeat.
Lightly salt the inside surfaces and let stand for at least twenty minutes. Rinse, drain, and place in a large non metallic mixing bowl.
Prepare the vegetables:
Grate or shred the Daikon and lightly salt.
Fine chop the green onion
Mix the Seasoning Paste:
Place the garlic, onion half, and ginger into a blender with just enough water to blend into thick smooth paste. Pour into a medium non metallic mixing bowl.
Add all other seasoning ingredients and mix well. Add water as needed to maintain a thick paste.
Add chive, daikon, and green onion, mix well.
Let stand fifteen to twenty minutes.
Carefully stuff the seasoning paste into the slotted cucumber. Be careful not to break the uncut ends.
Place stuffed cucumber into a large glass container, cover tightly, and let stand at least one hour.
Refrigerate and serve cold with your favorite Korean meal.
Oi Saengchae - Sweet Seasoned Cucumber
Crisp, somewhat sweet and sour, this preparation is a great addition to any meal.
6 to 8 each Korean cucumbers (Light to dark green, long, slender, rough or bumpy skin) (You can substitute any crisp slicing cucumber)
1 each small carrot
1/2 each small sweet onion
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons rice vinegar or white vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
Cut cucumber in half lengthwise.
Slice each half into roughly 1/4-inch-thick slices.
Slice the onion half about the same thickness as the cucumber.
Thick shred the carrot.
Place all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.
Transfer the mixture to a resealable container and allow to stand at room temperature for about 45 minutes.
Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
Oi naengguk - Cucumber Soup
1 each medium Cucumber (about 1 1/2 cups - 7 ounces)
3 each cloves garlic
1 each medium green onion
1 each green chili pepper
1 each red hot chili pepper
6 each ice cubes
1 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cup cold water
Wash cucumber in cold water.
Slice the cucumber in half crosswise, then thin slice (about 1/8" thick) each half lengthwise.
Cut slices lengthwise into "noodles" about 1/8" thick. (Julienne)
Place cucumber strips into a medium mixing bowl.
Mince, fine chop, or thin slice the garlic cloves and add to the bowl.
Cut the green chili pepper into thin slivers and add to the bowl.
Cut the green onion into roughly 1/4 inch segments and add to the bowl.
Gently toss the contents of the bowl until well mixed.
In a separate bowl, mix all broth ingredients until sugar and salt are dissolved.
Separate the cucumber mix into two equal portions and place into serving bowls.
Fine chop the red chili pepper.
Pour one half of the broth over each serving.
Sprinkle red pepper into each bowl, add ice cubes, and serve.
Mix the broth before prepping the vegetables. Pour broth into an ice tray and freeze.
Add one additional cucumber, then slice both in half lengthwise. Remove the pulpy seed area and reserve it, then julienne as above.
Prep vegetables as above and divide into serving bowls.
Place the frozen broth cubes into a strong blender, add one or two tablespoons water, and blend into slush.
Mix the cucumber pulp into the slush.
Spoon the slush equally into the serving bowls, sprinkle with chopped red pepper, and serve.
Substitute Japanese eggplant or fresh zucchini for the cucumber.
Add Kombu to cucumber.
Oiseon - Korean Stuffed Cucumber
Cucumber doesn't always need salad or to be pickled.
4 medium cucumbers
2 each eggs
1 medium carrot
4 each Pyogo (Shitake) mushroom
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
1/2 pound lean Beef
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 each green or spring onion
6 cloves (2 teaspoon) fresh garlic
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons ground toasted sesame seeds
Finely chop the green/spring onion.
Mince or press the garlic.
Grind sesame seeds in a coffee or nut grinder.
Mix marinade and let stand about 10 minutes.
Wash well in cold water then rub the cucumbers with salt.
Let stand for 5 minutes then rinse well.
Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then lightly score the skin on a diaganal.
Remove seeds, leaving a trench in each half.
Lightly salt the inner face, then let stand about 30 minutes.
Slice the carrot lengthwise into roughly 1/4 inch thick slices, then cut into strips about 1/4 inch thick by 2 inches long (Julienne).
Thin slice the beef into strips about the same size as the carrot. Mix beef with marinade and let stand ate least 20 minutes.
Separate egg yolks from the whites, lightly whip each, and fry separately until lightly browned. Slice into long narrow strips.
Heat a skillet or pan over high heat.
Add meat and cook until well browned. Set aside.
In a separate pan, (or wipe down the same pan) add 1 teaspoon sesame oil and lightly fry the carrot and mushroom (about one to two minutes). Set aside.
Pat cucumber dry with paper towel, add remaining sesame oil to pan, and lightly fry (one to one and a half minutes).
Stuff trench of cucumber with meat, egg, and carrot/mushroom mix.
Serve with rice and ban chan.
That is very close, and can be used.
The paste we use is by the same company but it is smaller shrimp in a paste, pinkish in color. It can be found in the refrigerated section near the one pictured on Maangchi's site.
If you use the salted shrimp, pulse it in a blender or use some method to mash the shrimp.
This is quite salty, so be sure to taste as you go.
To the best of my knowledge all shrimp paste is fermented. The "salted shrimp" referenced above is a fermented product, just not ground like the pastes from other countries.
Many Koreans use Thai, Vietnamese, or Chinese fish and shrimp pastes in various recipes with very good results.
The only thing is that since the intensity and saltiness vary by country and brand, it is best to start with a smaller amount of brand XX, and add more if needed.
Julie Powell made Julia Child's Baked Cucumbers famous. Typical reaction to the recipe is skepticism, but like everyone else who tried it, I am a convert. The taste and texture are wonderful, and a single serving is at least one good sized cuke, because although, counterintuitively, the hour of baking does not make them mushy, it removes much of their water. The recipe is in MtAoFC, of course, and in several online versions, including:
I got a lot of cukes in my CSA box this week, and decided to try this recipe, since I was tired of raw/salad preps. Have to say, I am not a convert. I followed the recipe exactly, but thought the cukes, while not mushy, were softer than I expected. As for taste, it was only ok to me, and hubby (who is not a vinegar fan) thought that even after baking, etc., the vinegar flavor was too pronounced. He pronounced them to be 'hot pickles', which is definitely not a compliment in his book. The recipe said to pat them dry after having them stand in the vinegar, salt, sugar: should I also have rinsed them?
Susan, I think your husband's description is spot on, except that I found the vinegar flavor to be pretty mild - just a teeny tang, not a pucker. The sugar balances it into a mild sweet&sour, which the butter mellows out considerably. I did not rinse. I made them twice but not in over a year. I might have used rice wine vinegar rather than white wine vinegar but definitely not red. I am not a vinegar fan, either, but I do like sweet&sour.
I'm about to post this on my blog. It's really delicious.
Chop one small cucumber and add to a cocktail shaker
Add the juice of half a lime
Add EITHER a tablespoon of local honey, 1/2 oz. simple syrup, or a teaspoon of ultra-fine sugar
Pour in 1.5 oz Vodka along with a handful of ice cubes
Shake vigorously for 10 seconds or so and pour into a rocks glass
Garnish with a couple more slices of cucumber or a lime wedge
I think it's a little better with a couple dashes of bitters but of course that's up to you.
We have been making pickles. I purchased a pakaged pickling spice package for 1 at my grocery store. I removed the chile pepper.
I sliced the pickles in thin spears. Put them in a strainer and salted them. I let them sit for two hours. I rinsed them off and dried them.
I boiled 2 cups of water and vinegar with the spices and 1/4 salt and 1/4 sugar. Once it boiled I took it off of the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.
I placed the sliced cukes in a non reactive bowl and poured the hot liquid over it. Let it reach room temp or so.
I sterilzed a large mason jar. I put all of the the material in the jar with the liquid, you want them covered. If they are not covered add more water and vinegar.
I put the jar back in the boiling water and sealed it. I put them in the fridge for three days, and they were ready to go. According to Bittman, they are good for 3 weeks.
And boy are they! I tried the garlic dill pickle receipt here <http://www.chow.com/recipes/28375-gar...>, and for some reason, while the flavor was terrific, they were too salty to me. I just did BIttman's "real" kosher dill recipe (no vinegar), and again, terrific flavor, but I think I prefer some vinegar in my pickles. It looks like I'll have an opportunity to try more next week, so I can come to some happy medium...
And thank you all for your suggestions! I don't have a good cuke soup recipe, so that's really helpful. I have just gone through a round of gazpacho. I should also recommend something that I picked up at a local restaurant here: cukes (seeded and thinly sliced on the diagonal) and tomatoes (thin wedges), tossed with olive oil and red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, topped with crumbled good-quality goat cheese and whatever fresh herbs you have at hand. Heaven.
Recipe from "The Seasonal Kitchen" by Perla Meyers
Scandinavian Cold Cucumber Soup
2 Tbs chopped dill
1/2 cup chopped parsley
6 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 quart buttermilk
1 pint sour cream or Creme Fraiche
sliced red radishes
finely diced cucumber
Peel and seed cukes. Salt and let drain for 30 minutes.
Put everything except white pepper in a blender. Blend at high speed. Add salt and pepper and chill.
This looks simple and good. I have to admit I was in my mid-30's before someone showed me how to seed a cucumber by cutting it lengthwise down the center and then using the tip of an upside-down teaspoon to scrape the seeds out. I rarely used cukes because I don't like their seeds and seeding them with a knife leaves you with a cucumber that looks as though it was it was in a bad car crash.
Every once in awhile I find a submarine sized cucmber that's managed to hide itself away. Tossed one on the compost and later had my neighbor asking if her lab was raiding the garden. Turns out Smokey LOVES thigh bone sized cukes to gnaw on so he gets mine now! If you happen to live rurally (or not), the neighbors pigs or poultry will appreciate any overgrown veg you've got.
I'm constantly making raita throughout the summer, but cucumber lemonade or gin and tonics also make terrific use of cucumber's refreshing flavor. You can also try making a shellfish salad with cucumbers, mangos, a little soy sauce, chilies, mayo or yogurt, some sweet fruit and whatever shellfish you feel like.
You've probably figured this out already, but when cukes get oversized, they tend to be woody and bitter. So be sure to taste them first, and try to police the plants and catch 'em before they get huge.
Even then, though, you're likely to have more than you care to eat at once. There's a reason that the word "pickles," without more, tends to refer to pickled cucumbers. They're all too prolific when in season, and they put up well.
Of course, suitability for pickling depends somewhat on the variety of your plant(s), but there's something to be said for homemade bread and butter pickles...
thanks for your info alanb, I have Japanese cukes up the kazoo right now. I planted them too close, and they're a jungle. But I still have tons of cukes, they tend to curl, which is ok, I just cut them into sections before slicing.
My question is that by the time I find some of them, they are rather large. I don't want to waste them so yesterday I cut into one and ate a slice. The thing wasn't pithy, or even soft. the seeds larger yes, but the cuke had a definite soury-lemon taste (normally sweet) which really waa kind of nice. Are these okay to eat? I might as well make quick pickles out of them if nothing else?
here from the cucumber growers' association: http://www.cucumbergrowers.co.uk/info...
Cucumber Party Flan
Cucumber and Tuna pate
Chilled cucumber and yoghurt soup
Cucumber and egg starter
Thai prawn and cucumber stir fry
Stuffed cucumber salad
an example of the cuke canapes: http://www.food.com/recipe/Stuffed-Cucumber-Cups-32390
cukes are good if cut, salted, squeezed, then folded with minced garlic and mint into lebneh (strained yogurt). that sauce is superb on a spicy ground lamb & beef patty (shammi kabob) http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/gyro-meat-with-tzatziki-sauce-recipe/index.html
cuke boat: http://www.saladmaster.com/index/Reci...
i like the chinese cuke salad made simply with toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar.
Sliced cucumber in a pitcher of cold water makes for refreshing drinks all day to stay hydrated in this hot weather; also saw this recently at a restaurant. Sliced cucumber makes great dipper for hummus. Since they don't keep very long, consider taking a bag to a local shelter or soup kitchen...they will be very grateful in these hard times.