Judging from customer feedback and the fact that my own plants are groaning under the weight of fruit, this seems to be the year of the cucumber glut. One of the healthiest of foods this low calorie food is packed with vitamins and is high in antioxidants. Being made from 95% water cucumbers are also a great hydrator on a hot day. Hence “She’s/He’s as cool as a cucumber.”
Cucumbers are wonderful to munch whilst working in the garden, especially if you’ve grown the short and sweet F1 Baby. But all varieties are worthy of so much more than just being sliced and added to a green salad.
Tomato & Cucumber Salad
Peel, seed and slice 2 large cucumbers. Place in a bowl with 75ml red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp caster sugar and 1 tsp salt. Stir, cover and leave for about an hour. Seed and chop 3 large tomatoes and gently mix with the cucumber. Add a small chopped red onion, 2 tbsp olive oil and a small handful of chopped mint.
Peel, deseed and dice one cucumber and wrap in a tea towel to dry. In a bowl mix 350g Greek yoghurt, 2 tbsps. lemon juice and 2 grated garlic cloves. Gently stir in the cucumber with 2 tbsps. of olive oil and 1 tbsp of chopped fresh dill. Chill and service with toasted pitta bread.
Simple slice in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and serve with a bowl of hummus or home-made tzatziki.
Gin & Tonic
For a change from lemon, plop a couple of slices of cucumber in your G&T. Beautifully refreshing.
Finely slice 5 cucumbers and 5 red onions. Place in a bowl in alternate layers adding a sprinkle of salt as you go. Put a plate and a weight on top and leave to stand overnight. Next day, strain off the liquid and rinse and drain your cucumber/onion mix. Boil 500g spiced pickling vinegar in a pan, adding 350g of soft brown sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved then add the cucumber/onion mix and boil for 1 minute. Spoon the cucumber/onion mix into sterilised jars. Boil the liquid for a further 10 minutes or until the liquid has started to thicken. Pour the liquid into the jars, filling to the bring. Puts the tops up and label once the jars have cooled.
Follow a traditional gazpacho recipe and include a peeled cucumber at the stage where you pulverise the tomatoes garlic, etc. in the food processor.
And when you tire of eating your bumper crop, place slices on your closed eyes to reduce puffiness. It really does work!