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What can I make with my first English cucumber?!

I'm so excited: my first vegetable garden has not been going all that well (think it's my soil mix), but I was surprised this morning to find a 10-inch English cucumber all ready to pick! So funny because I didn't think those plants were doing anything at all and there's this beautiful cucumber hidden by the leaves.

I won't have a chance to go out to buy anything but I've got one smallish tomato that might be a little overripe. Also have lots of onions. And lots of herbs growing outside (those have done well).

Tell me what I can do with this guy.

FWIW: my husband doesn't really like cucumbers, but I told him these babies were supposed to be burpless and seedless and have thin skins that don't need peeling, so he's willing to give them a try.

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  1. Congrats on your first cucumber! Why not chop it up with the tomato and onion (keep the onion quite small and in lesser quantity). Dress with lemon juice and chopped fresh coriander and fresh mint. A little roasted cumin, black pepper, chilli powder and salt are great for seasonings. This is a version of kachumbar which is a kind of small salad-y dish in North Indian cuisine.

    If you can get some decent yoghurt (plain), add chopped cucumber to it with roasted powdered peanuts, a tiny bit of sugar, chopped fresh coriander and salt to taste. Then heat a small bit of oil, add a teaspoon of mustard seeds and wait until they pop. Tip into the yoghurt mixture. You just made cucumber koshimbir ;)

    10 Replies
    1. re: Muchlove

      Sorry, but this koshimbir sounds nauseating. The kachumbar sounds good. I have served the same combination, except without the cumin and chilli powder.

      1. re: wisdomandtruth

        Cardinal CH rule: Yuck ye not another hound's yum.

        1. re: greygarious

          this is where we need the "thumbs up" button. Totally cool of you.

          1. re: chef chicklet

            I was thinking the exact same thing!

        2. re: wisdomandtruth

          Well, each to their own. But koshimbir is essentially cucumber raita with roasted peanut powder added. 1/2-2 tsp sugar is a usual additional and makes a big difference to flavour. Maybe you should try it before knocking it, especially since it is clearly culturally very different from what you are used to. In the same vein, I would advise you to keep the chilli powder in the kachumbar.

          1. re: Muchlove

            Do you make your own roasted peanut powder, or is it purchased. I have found that if I keep peanuts or nuts for that matter, safely packaged and wrapped that they keep for quite some time in the freezer.

            1. re: chef chicklet

              I buy raw peanuts and roast them and powder them as needed, much better taste.

              1. re: Muchlove

                thanks for the tip, I think you must be right, as with anything that I grind when needed the flavor punch is better. Sometimes I want to add a little bit of peanut to a chocolate tart, or even a custard, peanuts or chopped are too rough looking, the powder would be so wonderful with each bite. Will be trying your koshimbir, sounds very nice.

          2. re: wisdomandtruth

            I would totally eat both salads.

          3. re: Muchlove

            omg, I would so eat this! It sounds refreshing and is very similar to my own recipe when I make a chicken dish that is also marinated in a spicy yogurt mix for a few days. Then I serve on grilled naan with lots of fresh herbs, and a beautiful sauce with cucumber, very similar to yours. I can't make enough, my kids and everyone love it, keep cooking and keep posting. I would love to hear more from you!

              1. re: blue room

                Oh gee, with each recipe I've said, "That sounds good!" But now I don't know which one to choose. But as Isolda below hints, it sounds like I may end up with more cucumbers than I'll know what to do with .

                In checking out Ferret's recipe, I came across this Rachel Ray recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ra...
                I'm not a fan of hers, but I might try this anyway--using dill instead of parsley.

              2. For your husband, I'd just slice it and dress it with cider vinegar, sugar, and salt to taste. Even some cucumber haters like this.

                When you get tons and tons of cukes, and are totally sick of them, peel them and puree them in your food processor. Then press the mixture through a sieve and mix the juice with a simple syrup that you've flavored with vanilla. Freeze in an ice-cream maker for a wonderful cucumber vanilla sorbet, or just in your freezer for a granita. Everyone I've served this to loves it, and you don't need a recipe.

                1 Reply
                1. Make yourself a cucumber sandwich: thinly sliced white bread, butter, sliced cucumber, and salt. Perhaps not the most inspired of ideas, but so yummy I'm sure you won't regret it.


                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Euonymous

                    That's going to be what I make with my next cucumber, I promise.

                    Maybe 6 years ago, when we lived in San Diego, I read something about a tomato sandwich--never heard of such a thing. Made one as an experiment--had to add onions and some Cheddar cheese since I was pretty sure I couldn't stand tomatoes straight--and couldn't stop eating them for a couple years. It was really weird: I craved them all the time and would have them for lunch and dinner. The craving has left me here in Bham since I don't find the ready supply of great tomatoes I did back in SD.

                    1. re: Birmingham

                      If you planted tomatoes in your garden be prepared to get a WHOLE new addiction to tomato sandwiches. Nothing beats a one made with a ripe, warm almost hot from the sun, just picked cut, tomato and crammed onto (for me the best way) crappy white bread and mayo. Awesome.

                      1. re: Quine

                        I'm very bummed because they aren't growing well at all. The ONE Cherokee purple I was waiting to get ripe...well the birds and bugs got to it first. When I picked it today, it did have that warm from the sun feel. Very sad...

                        But I have planted 3 more types...hopefully I'll get better results.

                        1. re: Quine

                          Quine, doesn't it have to be a Jersey tomato?

                          Gaspacho? got beets, summer borscht w/ buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt.

                        2. re: Birmingham

                          Yes, I have to admit the tomatoes here in San Diego are really something special. I don't know if it is the weather, the soil, or something else but they seem to thrive here and numerous farmer's markets mean that you can find dozens of different heirloom varieties each with different tastes and different purpose.

                        3. re: Euonymous

                          The best thing that can happen to a cucumber, is a cucumber sandwich. I like mine plain, just bread, butter, thinly sliced cucumber, peeled please, with salt and freshly ground pepper. Homestyle wholewheat bread with seeds is my bread choice.

                          I have a Proustian memory of being served such a sandwich by my grandmother. A moisture-beaded glass of cold chocolate milk (from the dairy across the street) accompanied this cucumber bliss.

                          1. re: rakip

                            How high do you stack the cucumber? When I've seen English tea sandwiches, you don't even see the filling. But do you go with a higher cucumber-to-bread ratio?

                            1. re: Birmingham

                              I slice the peeled cucumber very thinly and place two or three layers on the bread. This is like English tea sandwiches in depth but still has plently of flavour.

                          2. re: Euonymous

                            Cucumber, onion, Miracle Whip (or mayo!) and white bread - total yum!

                          3. One of my favourite summer salads is made by cubing cucumber and watermelon in equal quantities and tossing them gently in a bowl w some fresh basil, and a spritz of lime juice. So refreshing and is especially good with grilled meats, fish and seafood.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              I've never tried cucumber and watermelon together. This sounds very refreshing. I'll have to try it!

                              1. re: BigSal

                                Let us know what you think BigSal, it's also good w mint but mr bc isn't a fan so I usually go w basil.

                              2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                I also like the cucumber-watermelon combo, and find it refreshing. This recipe is a nice flavor combo: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                I use equal amounts cucumber and watermelon, and the keys to my mind are the ginger, lime zest and juice, scallions, and rice vinegar. I have made it without the cilantro, without the watercress, without either, and enjoyed it greatly in any permutation.

                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                  Oooh thanks for sharing that link Caitlin, I LOVE the idea of adding ginger into the mix, it would give the salad a whole new life w some Asian dishes as well. Big thanks!!

                              3. Tzakziki
                                horiatiki salad

                                1. A cucumber story. Back when I was a kid in Queens, NY my Polish grandmother had an apartment in her basement where any family member who had hard times would live. Times were tough more than I was aware of , we never lived there, and this is something my grandmother served often and with great aplomb. She called it her summer meal and I eat it and my friends do too. Thinly slice as many cucumbers as you need. If they are waxed, peel them, otherwise up to you. Put cucumbers in a colander and toss with salt, Put a weight on top of the cucumbers, I usually use a gallon of cheap wine because I always have one. Move the cukes around maybe every 20 minutes. Do this for an hour. Meanwhile, thinly slice an onion. Mix cukes and onion together and mix with sour cream, fresh dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over boiled potatoes or baked potatoes.

                                  1. Cucumber sandwiches or sunomono!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: AdamD

                                      Finally looked up sunomono and it sounds great (and easy). Plus my husband's half Japanese, so he ought to like it. (He's never mentioned sunomono before, though.)

                                      But here's a question that's been plaguing me for years: where the heck do you get this rice WINE vinegar? I've searched and searched but I've never found one that says "wine" in the name. I've got two bottles of Nakano rice vinegar (seasoned and un) and I used to buy other brands too--but never have seen one that says rice wine vinegar.

                                      1. re: Birmingham

                                        I've been making my own version of cucumber and radish sunomono.

                                        Slice the radishes super thin and the cucumbers a little bit thicker. Salt the cucumbers and set aside in a strainer to drain a bit. Soak the radishes in a little bit of salt water. (I salt them separately because I'm paranoid that the color will bleed onto the cucumbers). Dissolve some dashi powder in a litlte bit of hot water and then cool. Real dashi stock is even better. Squeeze out excess water from the cucumbers and radishes, add a large splash of rice vinegar, some sugar, a drizzle of sesame oil, a handful of sliced scallions, and some sesame seeds along with the cooled dashi broth.

                                        Sometimes I add a bit of sliced red onion which I salt along with radishes.

                                    2. Cucumber, rice wine vinegar, a little salt and sugar.

                                      1. cut up in bite sized chunks, place in bowl. top with your fav hummas. enjoy for a wonderful breakfast:)

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Prettypoodle

                                          Great recipes, everyone! Never had a cucumber sandwich in my whole life, but I've always wondered about them. Will have to try that next.

                                          Btw, my husband finished the entire bowl of cucumber/tomato salad!

                                        2. We usually just slice them, and dip the slices in humus or other dip. Cucumber slices and red bell pepper are the most common 'salad' in our house.

                                          1. I guess I have been more of a cucumber fan than I realized. I love a good banh mi and made the carrot-daikon slaw so I could try my hand at homemade. I used English cucumbers, thinly sliced, and realize that it's the cukes and slaw that make the banh mi special. So now I put cuke on various sandwiches like tuna salad and club sandwiches.

                                            With any kind of cuke, Julia Child's baked cucumber recipe from MtAoFC might sound odd but is really delicious, and you can eat a large cucumber in one meal when they are cooked this way.

                                            I THINK it was Bette Midler on some TV chat show years ago.....the conversation was something to do with produce and I believe she was unfamiliar with English cukes until she saw one in the market and remarked suggestively that it looked like David Niven. I think this may have been around the time when Mr. Niven was hosting the Oscars when a streaker ran naked across the stage. Niven's famous response to the interruption, which may have been planned, was: "Well, ladies and gentlemen, that was almost bound to happen... But isn't it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?" So I never bother to write English cuke on my grocery list - just "niven".

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              I love him. I just might start calling them Nivens too. :-)

                                            2. I've always just eaten it pure and fresh, right off the vine, dipped in salt a little bit if it was handy, otherwise I just savor it as I eat it all, fresh from the garden.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                Yes, even though my little garden hasn't produced a lot, what we have picked usually doesn't make it to the table--we'll just eat things right there. As someone who grew up with mostly canned veggies (yuk), it's a whole new world.

                                              2. Just by the by, as someone born and living in England, what makes a cucumber an "English cucumber" for Americans. I've never see a national description added to it anywhere in Europe. Do you have other sorts of cucumber that are not "English" and do you gve them national names as well?

                                                FWIW, I only ever use it in a salad - whether straight in with other salady stuff, mixed with yoghurt in an eastern Mediterranean style, or mixed with rice wine and soy sauce for something reaching further east.

                                                21 Replies
                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  No. Our cucumbers don't have to many national names, just English cucumbers. :-)


                                                  These cucumbers are longer and skinnier than our regular cucumbers, have fewer seeds, and a very thin skin which doesn't need to be peeled. They are stocked in our shops wrapped in plastic. Most of them are grown in hothouses so they are consistent year-round. They are marketed as "burpless", but my husband is proof that this isn't true.

                                                  Hope this helps.

                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                    Thanks for the wiki link - it at least confirms that "English cucumbers" are to an American what a "cucumber" would be to an Englishman.

                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                      Funny that, yet in England you do use "English" to describe other items and we use the same names here:

                                                      English Muffins
                                                      English Breakfast Tea
                                                      English Mustard (Coleman's)

                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                        We don't generally describe muffins as "English" - they're usually just muffins.

                                                        In that context, you'd always want to be sure what you're getting , as muffins can be a bread item as a north American "English muffin" or a small cake as an American muffin. Latterly the blueberry muffin has started to become quite popular as we've now started to grow commercial crops.

                                                        "English mustard" is certainly called that - but only to distinguish it from "French mustard" (the tarragon flavoured Bordeaux mustard, not the more common Dijon, which is always called Dijon). In a British restaurant, you may be offered English or French - it's rare to be offered Dijon.

                                                        The Wikipedia note about the "English Breakfast" blend of tea is interesting, suggesting it was originally coined in north America. Makes sense I suppose, there's not generally a need for a country to give its food a national nam

                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                          Interesting regarding the English muffins as when I lived in Yorkshire, that's what we called them there as well. I see Sainsbury's and Tesco online sells them as "English Muffins" ...perhaps its a regional thing?

                                                          You're definitely using the "English" to describe mustard the same way we do and, in the same context as we in North America differentiate the cucumbers.

                                                          The origin of English Breakfast tea is debatable. My husband's grandfather (a Scott) used to swear it originated in Scotland and his English Grandmother would have none of it, claiming it was purely English. I found this info on Food History to be interesting:


                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                            Perhaps it is regional. I had never seen an (English) muffin until I visited the States in 1980. It was some years after that till I saw them in the UK - I just presumed they were an idea imported from America.

                                                            Interesting about the online supermarket - Sainsbury sells one product called an "English muffin" (in its "Free From" range - it's free of wheat) and three products just called a "muffin" (in its normal range). All four look like the same item to me. What's the pity is that they don't sell their cheese and black pepper "muffin" online. Not sure how well they'd eat with a cucumber though.

                                                            And, of course, hardly anyone will go to the supermarket to buy English breakfast blend - we all just buy teabags from one of the main producers that's just labelled "te

                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                              The muffin thing is bugging me - I'm trying to remember whether I've seen them described as "English" muffins in Tescos. I suppose it would make some sense to label them as such, if only because there's also a sweet cake-like muffin. No-one I know calls them "English muffins"!

                                                              Never seen anything labelled "English cucumbers" in the UK. Pretty sure I have seen "English breakfast tea" but god knows what makes it English. I don't know anyone who drinks it so I cannot comment further on that. We just buy ordinary teabags (for my Mum and Nan) and decent loose tea of some kind (for my Dad and I). The loose tea of course has some kind of designater in front but not "English breakfast"!

                                                              1. re: Muchlove

                                                                How do you distinguish between the bread muffin (like a crumpet, but baked on both sides), and cupcake like muffin? In the USA, the former is an English muffin, the latter a muffin.

                                                                according to this, English Breakfast Tea is a blend marketed in New York by a recent English immigrant in 1843.

                                                                More often than not, if a food is named for a country, it won't be called by that name in that country. Are there any 'American xxxx' foods in the UK?

                                                                1. re: paulj


                                                                  The only "American" description I can think generally applied is to "American pancakes", to distinguish the thicker version from our usual thin ones (the sort I think Americans tend to call by their French name of crepes).

                                                                  As for the two types of muffin, my earlier post indicated we don't generally distinguish between them, although the cake version will usually indicate what's in it "blueberry muffin", "chocolate chip muffin", etc, whereas the bread version is just a "muffin".

                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                    I have Hermes House book of Irisih cooking that has a couple of recipes along the line of American pancakes. There's an oatmeal pancake with buttermilk but no baking soda, and 'buttermilk pancakes' which similar to American ones, except made thicker and smaller.

                                                                    Any baked goods using baking soda or baking powder have the potential for being different across the Atlantic, since these did not become common until the mid 19th century.

                                                                    In America our pancake is also called a flapjack. But I gather the UK flapjack is more like our granola bar (oats and golden syrup).

                                                                2. re: Muchlove

                                                                  I'm curious about the "Chelsea Prize" variety: do you see any with that specific label? I mean, there's so many varieties of tomatoes here, they wouldn't just be labelled "tomatoes" at the grocery store. Our Whole Foods tells us exactly what variety and even what local farm they came from, when applicable.

                                                    2. re: Harters

                                                      The particular variety that I'm growing is called "Chelsea Prize": http://www.reneesgarden.com/seeds/pac...

                                                      There are Persian cukes and Heirloom American cukes among others: http://www.reneesgarden.com/seeds/see...

                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                        The common cucumber in American markets is shorter and a bit fatter, with fairly large seeds. The skin is usually tough enough to peel, and may be waxed. The 'English' is more expensive, and much nicer to eat 'straight'. Initially most of the English cucumbers came from hot houses in British Columbia. I don't know if they were the ones who coined the name or not.

                                                        For a change of pace I'll buy the 'Persian' cucumbers, a smaller ones, that's equally tender.

                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                          You really should give the baked ones a try. Many skeptics have become con(combre)verts:

                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                            Do you think the English cukes need to be scooped out?

                                                            1. re: Birmingham

                                                              I don't scoop them out as the seeds are small.

                                                              1. re: Birmingham

                                                                I'd scrape them out - much less watery that way.

                                                            2. re: Harters

                                                              I actually don't really like what we call regular cucumbers. That thick, bitter skin has to be at least partially removed before I'll eat them. I enjoy the thinner skinned 'English' cucumbers as well as the ones called persian which appear to be mini versions of the english cucumber.

                                                              The 'Korean' cucumber is a long, thin skinned cucumber that is somewhat prickly and light green in color.

                                                              1. re: soypower

                                                                I just bought my first Korean cucumber. Not a lot of difference from the Persian (other than color and length); may be a bit tougher skin.

                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                  I find them to be somehow 'meatier' than persian cucumbers..Less water, more dense? Not sure, but those cucumbers actually fill me up.

                                                                  1. re: soypower

                                                                    I'll have try seasoning mine in the Korean style. It might hold up better.

                                                            3. Definitely a cucumber sandwich. They sing when you have very fresh cucumbers.

                                                              1. For an absolutely delicious and transformational change of pace, try sauteeing them or braising with herbs, in chunks. Delicious w/ roasted radishes for contrast. Completely unexpected. Pretty dang thrilling.
                                                                All that being said, I could probably eat a gallon of sunomono or any other cuke salad a week. Topped w/ good smetana if I make it with dill and sugar and parsley and green onions.

                                                                1. If I had the "first" cucumber of the season, I would go simple. Thinly sliced, just a touch of salt, and eat.

                                                                  As the season grows long, then try the multitude of offerings in this thread.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                    *this* -- enjoy the first fruits of your garden straight up!

                                                                  2. Cucumbers are good for salads and sandwichs thats the normal use. But they are great stir fried for a vegetable side dish for chinese food or try pickling them for a short time to have with japanese food. I am growing cucumbers for the first tiem this year. I always seed them and peel them before eating. That gets rid of the burp factor ;)

                                                                    1. I normally use English cucumbers in my own versions of what I call raita and also other greek like sauces - hey I'm no authority, I just cook and eat what suits me and sometimes I combine and tweak recipes. Funny though, my friends all think I'm this really good cook. For something more daring, I would make a salad of grilled scallops and English cucumbers,garden fresh tomatoes, Italian parsley, use a citrus vinaigrette with a bit of sugar and oil and a tiny bit of chopped chives drizzle for a starter. Or roll it up in a butter leaf and enjoy!
                                                                      When we picnic, I like to take soft rolls, make a salad with all fresh in season veggies, and the cukes, and make sandwiches. The cucumbers are perfect, with the crispy crunch. Then a dressing with herbs, dried and fresh, red pepper flakes, dressing with olive oil and red wine vinegar, oh and a little Dijon mustard. It's so good and I feel like I'm eating diet food. I also have recently learned how to make Japanese potato and macaroni salad, and these cucumbers are used in the those salads since they aren't bitter. Nice and different, plus, ya gotta love that beautiful Kewpie mayonnaise!

                                                                      1. One of my favorite things to do with cucumber (I generally peel, but sounds like yours doesn't need it, or possibly the next step either) is cut in half, seed with a melon baller, and slice (thick slices, about 1/3 inch). Halve grape tomatoes, sprinkle with a little superfine sugar, and let sit for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Makes its own dressing, and allows the fresh taste of the produce to come through.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: foiegras

                                                                          I like the sound of that--esp. since I'm also growing little pear (not grape) tomatoes. Thanks!

                                                                        2. Cacik (pronounced 'kachik'). Similar to tzaziki. Greek yog, deseeded cucumber, fresh mint, dried mint, crushed fresh garlic & seasoning. Mix together to your own tastes & serve.

                                                                          1. Does everyone else peel and deseed when yuo eat cucumber?

                                                                            I have also grown gerkins for the first time this year. I have always had them out of jars before and thought they were just so so. But having them fresh i prefer them to cucumbers. You also get a hiegh yield from them so worth a try.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: dryrain

                                                                              I don't peel OR deseed - just slice and eat!

                                                                              The only exception is if I'm making a cucumber salad that I make frequently (cucumbers, sour cream, salt and sliced onions - yum). For that, I peel, but still don't deseed...