Preparing Cucumbers and Pickles
Cucumbers can bring great yields in a garden and it can be a hard task to figure out what you’re going to do with all of them. Thankfully there are a lot of great and healthy ways to gain all the health benefits cucumbers offer us while also making them even tastier in the process. There are many types of cucumbers you can choose from either at farmers markets or when purchasing seeds, but for these recipes we recommend using kirby or persian cucumbers as they will typically provide you with quality, crunchy pickles.
Dehydrating your cucumbers is an easy option for creating pickle chips that make for a delicious and healthy snack. They are very simple to get ready, and all you’ll really need is some patience, a dehydrator/oven, a knife, vinegar, and some seasonings such as salt or herbs of your choice. If you have an abundance of cucumber this year or are looking to get healthier, try using them to replace junk foods such as potato chips or any other foods full of fats. Cucumber chips are a long lasting snack that can do wonders for your diet and are also great on sandwiches, salads, wraps, and so much more.
To make cucumber chips, you have two options. The quickest method is to bake them in the oven for 3-4 hours around 125°F. However, if you want to wait a little longer for a higher quality pickle chip, you can use a dehydrator and they will come out much crispier, and have a more refined flavor than the baked chips. These salty snacks are low in calories, so you can snack on them whenever you want without having to worry about the health problems that can arise from processed potato chips.
Arguably the best and most common way to enjoy cucumbers, fermenting your cucumbers is the longest lasting method of preserving cucumbers and many other vegetables too. It might seem like a hard task to perfect, but it really comes down to just having a lot of patience and having the right cucumbers and making a good brine. There are all sorts of different cucumbers and brines you can choose from when fermenting them, but we recommend kirby or persian cucumbers for quality, consistent pickle results.
When fermenting, you have multiple choices for how your pickles will turn out, aside from what spices you choose to put in. For people who enjoy a more sour, softer pickle, you will want to fully ferment your pickles for usually at least 3 days. If you’re looking for a pickle with more crunch, but less of a sour taste, you can make half-sour pickles which usually need around half the time as full-sour pickles. There are also a lot of different styles for brines which can also drastically alter the taste and spice up your pickles to match your favorite flavors. For example, there are also sweeter pickles like bread and butter style, which simply add in some sugar to the brine. There’s also pickles like Polish pickles that include more garlic and spices like mustard seeds to add extra flavor to their pickles. Thankfully pickles aren’t very hard to perfect to your own taste. As long as you start to taste test them when they begin to sour and prevent them from souring too much for your taste, fermented cucumbers will provide you with a huge supply of snacks and toppings for sandwiches, salads, and other delicious meals. If you’re looking to create a crunchier pickle, add a bay leaf, grape leaf, or even an oak leaf to each jar.
Quick Fridge Cucumbers
If you don’t want to wait as long as it takes for pickles to typically ferment, you can make quicker pickles in the fridge that will have less flavor and won’t preserve as long, but they are still quite tasty and a lot easier to prepare. They are prepared similarly to fermented cucumbers, but instead of letting them ferment for days, you can just put them in the fridge and they’ll be ready in two days at the most. These only last for about a week but you should have no problem eating them by then.
Relishing with Cucumbers
If your pickles ever turn out not as crunchy as you’d like them to be, you can always chop them up and make some pickle relish with it most of the time. It can be a great way to turn a bad situation into a great one if you enjoy the taste of sweet relish on your sandwiches. It’s a very versatile dish as well and you can include many types of vegetables, from tomatoes, to peppers, and so much other great veggies. You can even make relishes without the cucumbers/pickles if you’d like. Spicy relishes are delicious too and are a great way to spice up any dish while adding plenty of healthy ingredients at the same time.
Other Uses for Cucumbers
If you REALLY like cucumbers, you should try sunomono. A delightful japanese salad with cucumber as the base, sprinkled with vinegar, sugar, salt, and lightly toasted sesame seeds, which when combined brings out all the great flavors cucumber has to offer. It’s a light dish that makes great for an appetizer and has great visual appeal too. You can add in plenty of other ingredients too if you want to create an even healthier salad with more ingredients to it.
Another light, cool way to enjoy cucumbers are to simply cut two cucumbers up, and add the slices into two quarts of water. The cucumber will infuse with the water after 3 to 4 hours and you’ll get to reap the many health benefits from cucumber water! It is a great way to get antioxidants from cucumber like vitamin C, manganese and others. It’s a great way to replace other water flavorings that might contain loads of sugar, and completely defeat the purpose of drinking water. Cucumber water can help you find a great tasting water that you can not only drink consistently, but also enjoy consistently.
Cucumbers and Dips
There’s lots of other ways to enjoy cucumbers, but a pretty basic one is just dipping them in whatever you love. There’s a lot of great concoctions you can come up with for dips, but some great ones you might enjoy with cucumbers include ranch dressings, other salad dressings, sour cream, and even regular salsas or yogurts go great with cucumbers. Since they’re mostly water so they do not bring too much flavor to the dish, so they are a very versatile vegetable when it comes to pairing flavors with it. Though despite the many choices you have, you can never go wrong with adding a little dill and salt to cucumbers and just dipping them in your favorite sauces.
Salad is a dish you can never go wrong when adding cucumber to. In fact there are hundreds of different types of cucumber salads you can try, it’s up to you to find the best salad for you though. A great way to use up your cucumbers in salad form is with greek pasta salad, which is basically just any pasta you choose mixed with any vegetables you choose, along with some red wine vinegar and olive oil… It’s a quick and simple dish to make but you’ll probably be quick to eat all of it too!
Are you a fan of cucumbers or pickles on your sandwiches? How about an entire sandwich with cucumbers as the bun? Or you could try cucumber slices and cheese instead of crackers and cheese! These make surprisingly good snacks and are much healthier than processed crackers. You can easily go through a lot of cucumbers quickly if you are able to substitute them for sandwich buns and crackers.
If you’re looking for a different experience with cucumbers, you should try out a smashed cucumber salad. You may not think that just texture would have such a big effect on how you enjoy the food, but smashing cucumbers before you add them to your salad is a great new way to experience your favorite dish. You never know, you might enjoy them more than just regular cucumbers, even though the flavor is the same. The texture of smashed cucumber is something completely unlike cucumbers most people eat on a daily basis. It can be a great way to also try cucumbers if you don’t like them, as sometimes the texture of a food can change your opinion on it.
With such a versatile food, there’s a whole lot more you could probably do with cucumbers. These are just a general idea in case you either really enjoy cucumbers or if you grew too many this year… At Goffle Brook Farm, we have plenty of fresh, locally grown cucumbers available for purchase today! They’ll make for great cucumbers to pickle, or will be great for any other recipes you might need them for. Come on out to Goffle Brook and see what other produce we have to offer, we have far more than just fresh cucumbers!