Tag Archives: cucumbers

Cucumbers – Hints, Do’s and Do Not’s

As per our regular posting schedule, now is the time in which we talk about the little things to know and look for when dealing with cucumbers. Do with this information as you see fit.

  • There are several types of cucumbers, including the Common American Cucumber, Dutch Cucumber, gherkins, American Dill, Persian Cucumbers, and French cornichons. The gherkins, dills and cornichons are used almost exclusively for pickles.
  • American cucumbers are available year round (they transport well), but their peak time is July and August. Pickling cucumbers are available almost exclusively during the summer.
  • Choose Cucumbers with a good deep green color with no bruising. The better cucumber have a uniformity of shape, being long and *ahem* firm.
  • Yellow flesh on a cucumber means the cucumber is starting to deteriorate. They should be avoided. Any cucumbers with bruising should also be avoided.
  • Cucumbers that bulge in the middle, usually most likely means its filled with large watery seeds and tasteless flesh.
  • Wax is used to seal in the moisture of the cucumber. It is edible but still should be removed with vinegar, hot water, or lemon juice.
  • Always wash cucumbers before slicing. If the skin is thin and unwaxed, you do not need to peel the skin from the cucumber. If you taste the skin and it is bitter, peeling is suggested.
  • Smaller cucumbers are often less bitter than larger ones.
  • Bitterness in cucumbers can be caused by any stress on the plant such as high temperature, low moisture, low soil nutrients, etc. Bitterness is also associated with fruit harvested late in the season from poor yielding, unhealthy plants.
  • 1 medium common cucumber = 1 1/2 cups of chopped cucumber.
  • To seed a cucumber, slice in half lengthwise, , and scoop out seeds with a teaspoon.
  • Cucumbers go well with buttermilk, dill, mint, salmon, tarragon, scallions, onions, tomatoes, sour cream and yogurt.
  • Whole, unsliced cucumbers can last up to 10 days in the refrigerator (stored in a plastic bag). Sliced cucumbers can last 5 days.
  • Anyone allergic to pollen or aspirin should avoid eating cucumbers. They can cause an unpleasant mouth itch.

Tsatziki (Cucumber Salad)

Cucumber Salad

Tsatziki (also known as Tzatziki) is a dish that seems to have an identity crisis. Some people claim it’s a dip, others claim it’s a soup, still others say it’s a salad. The key word in the dish is obviously “Tsatziki”, which may translate to cucumber. It may also translate to “Stupid yankees can’t transalte anything”. Any help from the Greek Community will be appreciated.

At any rate, this is a wonderful side dish, and blessedly simple to make. I made it as a salad . But it soon became obvious that it would also make a delicious dip or soup. The choice, as always, is yours.

  • 3 8″ Cucumbers, peel, slice thin
  • 1 cup Plain Yogurt
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tblsp Spearmint Leafs, chopped
  • 1 Tblsp Scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • Salt and pepper(to taste)

In a large salad bowl, place in cucumber slices. Fold in yogurt, lemon juice, spearmint, scallions and sugar. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator. Allow to maserate for 1-2 hours.

Salt and pepper to taste, and then serve alone or on Pita.

Cucurbitaceae – Cucumbers and Squash

This is what I get for applying all this fancy book learnin’ to real life. Now I have to address a food that I’ve been dreading…Those foods found in the Cucurbitaceae family. This would include those items which fall into the “gourd” family. I, as a rule of thumb, have not made a habit out of eating anything which could also be used as a musical instrument.

This, undoubtedly, makes me a bad person.

Sure, sure, there are cucumbers I can look forward to, even if they are now at the tail end of their growing season. I have nothing against the majority of melons either, although the name “muskmelon” has been known to make me all wobbly. Luckily for me, muskmelons (also known as cantaloupe) weren’t domesticated until roughly 2400 BC. Since I’m still roughly at 5000 BC in my exploration of various food stuffs, there’s still plenty to explore between then and now.

No, it’s the squash that has me all atwitter. There’s the summer squashes, with its zucchini. I can handle that. I suppose it’s the winter squashes, native to North America, which I have intentionally avoided for most of my life. Excluding all pastries pumpkin related (pies and breads and such), I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve volunteered to eat these brutes.

Part of the reason for my skittishness is the name….squash. It gives such violent imagery to a fruit (and yes, technically, they are fruits) that seems to rot if you just give it a dirty look. The other reason they bug me is that they look so alien to me, what with their odd colorings (oranges and yellows) and their pod-like appearance. Have I mentioned that Invasion of the Body Snatchers scared the bejesus out of me when I was a child? Perhaps this is the source of my apprehension to squash.

I do, however, find it interesting that squash is one of the three crops that helped sustain the native American population for 2000 years prior to the Western Europeans arriving. Along with maize and beans, these three products were usually planted together, with the cornstalk providing support for the climbing beans, and shade for the squash. The squash vines provided groundcover to limit weeds. Hows that for efficient agricultural engineering?

I will soldier on, as is my dictate to this site. Expect three cucumber recipes to offset three squash recipes…with pumpkin pie as a dessert.