garden — more correctly, my husband’s garden — was
overflowing with cucumbers. Lots of tomatoes and peppers,
too, along with lesser amounts of carrots, eggplant,
Egyptian spinach, zucchini and the list goes on.
tried everything to use up the cucumbers: Cucumber and
avocado salad, cucumbers with couscous, cucumbers in adult
beverages, and we made gallons and gallons of cucumber
water. We gave some away to friends. Even then, so … many
… cucumbers. We knew what we should do with them but were
just too afraid to try: Make pickles.
are easy ways to make pickles. Our friend Daniel Neman has a
video on how to make Quickles (quick pickles). But those
last in the refrigerator just a few weeks. We had a bigger
cucumber problem on our hands. We needed to venture into the
world of canning. None of my family or close friends can.
Left to my own devices, I started with the internet. As is
often the case there, I found conflicting reports on how to
can. But after reading enough stories from reputable
sources, I finally felt confident that I knew how to do it.
Adams, a full-time farmer and educator at Earthdance Organic
Farm School, says pickling is nothing to be afraid of.
"It is a lot easier than people think it is. And it
allows you to eat really good food you made, to connect to
your food system. … It’s the best way to enjoy
seasonable produce year-round. Canning basically is to stop
food from decomposing, so you create this environment devoid
of oxygen and harmful bacteria, locking in the
says most people start with cucumbers and tomatoes because
they can be found in abundance this time of year. But those
can be like a super-healthful gateway drug. "Once you
get the basics in, you can pickle just about anything; there’s
a funny ‘Portlandia’ skit about it."
seen it. And while I’m not there yet, I do have a dozen or
so jars of pickles in my cupboard, several more in my
refrigerator and even more pickles in my belly. Bread and
butter, spears, whole, chips, spicy, mustardy. If you are
afraid, as I was, here’s a simple how-to on canning
pickles, with advice from Adams and me. I’ve also included
a recipe for Bread and Butter Pickles. Those are done a
little differently from the way explained in the following
directions but are a favorite in my house.
the right equipment.
things are absolutes: You must have jars and lids (you may
reuse the jars and rings, but you’ll need to replace the
actual lid each time so it seals properly). Almost as
important are the canning tongs. Not just any tongs will do.
I bought some in a kit with a bunch of other gadgets for
$9.99 from Farm & Home Supply in Cottleville. They are a
canner’s dream. The kit also came with a spatula-like tool
for getting the air out, a lid tightener (good if you aren’t
very strong), and a jar lifter and a funnel that I have
never used. I’d also recommend springing for the pickling
and canning salt ($2.99 for 3 pounds) and pickling vinegar
($2.99 for 5 quarts). I’ve found apple cider vinegar and
distilled white vinegar also work well. Lastly, you need a
big pot to cook them in. I just use my stock pot, which fits
four quart-size jars, but they make bigger pots that fit
many more. A canning rack is also a great investment, as
your jars need to be off the bottom of the pot. But you can
make one yourself by tying canning rings together with
Sanitize the jars.
by placing your jars (no lids) in a stock pot. Fill the pot
(and jars) with water, to about an inch over the jars. Boil
for about 10 minutes. Use your tongs to remove the jars to a
wood cutting board or to a work surface covered by towels. I’ve
read differing reports on what to do with the lids. The
easiest and most reasonable seems to be to rinse them under
hot tap water for a bit.
Make the brine.
general rule seems to be 2/3 vinegar to 1/3 water plus salt.
I use 2 cups of vinegar, 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons
salt, brought to a boil. Canning salt is best, and kosher
salt is good, but never use iodized salt. If I’m making
bread and butter or sweet pickles, I’ll add as much as 2
cups of sugar (see recipe).
creative with the jars.
comes the fun part. My 11-year-old son likes to help here.
We line up a bunch of ingredients and let his imagination
run wild. Add any (but probably not all!) of these
ingredients to the empty jars: dill, thyme, oregano,
rosemary, turmeric, mustard seeds, jalapeno, onion, black
peppercorn, garlic, coriander seeds, fresh ginger (peeled
and sliced) or red pepper flakes. Then fill the jars as much
as you can with cucumber, either whole, sliced into chips or
quartered into spears. Next, pour the brine to within about
a half-inch of the rim. Use a spatula or one of those
special tools to get the air bubbles out, running it along
the sides of the jar. Adams also says a chopstick will do
the job. Now, put the lids back on. Seal them tight, but
there’s no need to He-Man that thing.
Cook them, store them.
the sealed jars back in the stock pot of water, turn it on
so it comes to a low boil and cook, about 10 minutes for
pint-size jars and 15 for quart-size jars. But if your
recipe says different, follow that. Use those special tongs
to remove the jars to a safe surface (I use a wood cutting
board). Let them sit for 24 hours. Then test the seal to
make sure they are secure. Press the middle of the lid with
your finger, and if the lid springs up when you release your
finger, the lid is unsealed. I also like to remove the ring
and gently see if I can pry the lid off. If I cannot, it is
sealed, and into the cupboard it goes, where jars can be
stored for a year. No worries if the seal is broken, just
put it in the fridge and use within three weeks.
that water bath canning is perfect for high-acid foods and
jams and jellies, but a pressure canner should be used for
lower-acid foods such as beans, beets, meats and other
naturally low-acid foods.
STORY CAN END HERE)
pickle fan? Here are some other cucumber ideas.
Feta with Cucumbers
10 to 12 servings
pound feta cheese, cut into 2 pieces, at room temperature
ounces cream cheese, softened
tablespoons heavy cream
cup extra-virgin olive oil
tablespoons fresh lemon juice
cucumbers (1 1/2 pounds), halved, seeded and cut into
tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
pita or baguette slices, for serving
a large bowl, cover the feta with water and let stand at
room temperature for 30 minutes to temper the saltiness.
Drain and coarsely crumble the feta. Transfer to a food
processor and purée.
the cream cheese, heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of the olive
oil and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and process until
smooth and airy. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss the cucumbers with the remaining
2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
Add the oregano and season with salt and pepper. Cover and
refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days.
Serve the whipped feta lightly chilled or at room
temperature with the cucumber and toasts.
serving (based on 12, no bread): 196 calories; 10 g fat; 3.5
g saturated fat; 15 mg cholesterol; 2 g protein; 3 g
carbohydrate; 2 g sugar; 0.5 g fiber; 65 g sodium; 40 mg
from Food & Wine.
cucumbers, about 8 inches long
tablespoons white wine vinegar
teaspoon granulated sugar
tablespoons butter, melted
teaspoon dill or basil
3 to 4
tablespoons minced green onion
Peel the cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise; scoop out the
seeds with a spoon. Cut into lengthwise strips about 3/8
inch wide. Cut the strips into 2-inch pieces.
Toss the cucumbers in a bowl with the vinegar, salt and
sugar. Let stand for at least 30 minutes, or up to several
hours. Drain. Pat dry with a towel.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Toss the cucumbers in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with the
butter, herbs, onion and pepper. Set uncovered in middle
level of preheated oven for about 1 hour, tossing 2 or 3
times, until cucumbers are tender but still have a
suggestion of crispness and texture.
serving: 75 calories; 6 g fat; 3.5 g saturated fat; 15 mg
cholesterol; 1 g protein; 5 g carbohydrate; 3 g sugar; 1 g
fiber; 100 g sodium; 30 mg calcium.
from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," by
Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck.
limes, rinsed, divided
packed mint leaves, no stems, plus 6 sprigs for garnish
cup granulated sugar
gin or vodka
Thinly slice 3 limes and place in a pitcher. Juice the rest
and add juice to the pitcher. Add mint leaves. Peel and
slice 2 of the cucumbers and add; add sugar. Muddle
ingredients (a potato masher works well). Add gin or vodka.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer for flavors to blend.
remaining cucumber lengthwise into 6 spears. Fill 6 highball
glasses with ice. Strain mixture from pitcher into each. Top
with sparkling water. Garnish each glass with a sprig of
mint and a cucumber spear, and serve.
by Adam Frank, adapted by the New York Times
cucumber about 12 inches long, peeled
teaspoon kosher salt
full-fat Greek yogurt, see note
garlic clove, minced
teaspoon dried dill or 1/2 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
teaspoon red wine vinegar
For best results, use full-fat (whole milk) Greek yogurt.
Two percent fat is acceptable, but do not use nonfat yogurt.
Grate the cucumber into a mesh strainer. Sprinkle with salt
and let sit in the sink or in a bowl to sweat out the
moisture for 30 minutes. Squeeze out as much of the
remaining moisture as you can with paper towels.
a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, dill, olive oil
and vinegar. Add the strained cucumber and stir until
combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Store in
the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours to allow the
flavors to combine.
serving: 34 calories; 2 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 4 mg
cholesterol; 3 g protein; 2 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; no
fiber; 130 mg sodium; 37 mg calcium.
adapted from OMGFood
GAZPACHO WITH GARLIC CROUTONS
fresh corn kernels
cups coarsely chopped peeled English cucumber plus 1 cup
diced peeled English cucumber
garlic clove, smashed and peeled
cup lime juice
tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably grapeseed
teaspoon kosher salt
halved or quartered cherry tomatoes
diced red bell pepper
tablespoon minced serrano chile with the seeds
fresh basil for garnish
tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably grapeseed
teaspoon minced garlic
teaspoon chile powder
teaspoon kosher salt
ounces (about 3 slices) firm white bread, crusts removed and
cut into 1/2-inch dice (you should have about 2 cups)
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, add the corn and
boil for 1 minute. Drain the corn into a colander and run
cold water over it to cool it down. Set aside 1 cup of the
kernels and in a blender combine the remaining corn kernels,
the coarsely chopped cucumber, garlic, lime juice, oil and
salt and puree until very smooth.
Transfer the puree to a bowl and stir in the remaining corn
kernels, diced cucumber, tomatoes, red bell pepper and chile.
Taste and adjust seasoning and chill for at least 2 hours
and up to two days ahead before serving.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl combine the oil,
garlic, chile powder and salt, add the bread cubes and toss
well. Spread the croutons out on a parchment-lined rimmed
sheet pan and bake them on the middle shelf of the oven for
15 to 20 minutes, or until the bread squares are crisp and
beginning to brown. Let cool.
serve: Divide the soup among 4 bowls and top each portion
with the croutons and some shredded basil.
serving: 359 calories; 16 g fat; no cholesterol; 409 mg
sodium; 55 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 8 g
(14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, rinsed
cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced into half-moons
carrot, peeled and shredded
scallions, finely chopped
tablespoon rice vinegar
teaspoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
tablespoon mild red or yellow miso paste
cooked rice (white, brown, sushi or a combo)
(0.7-ounce) package crisp seaweed
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Slice tofu into 1/2-inch thick slabs. Set slabs on a baking
sheet lined with a clean kitchen towel. Cover with a second
towel. Weight with another baking sheet. Let drain 15
a large bowl, toss together cucumber, avocado, carrot and
scallion. Season with salt, vinegar, sesame oil and 1
tablespoon soy sauce.
Whisk together 2 tablespoons soy sauce and the miso. Cube
drained tofu and toss with soy/miso sauce. Spread out on an
oiled baking sheet. Roast, stirring once, for 20 minutes.
Serve: Add rice, roasted tofu and seaweed to the vegetables.
Toss. Add a little more soy, if you like. Serve at room
serving: 469 calories; 17 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; no
cholesterol; 22 g protein; 61 g carbohydrate; 7 g sugar; 6 g
fiber; 2,361 mg sodium; 291 mg calcium
GAZPACHO WITH CUCUMBER YOGURT
About 8 (1-cup) servings
large peaches, peeled and divided
large tomatoes, cored and divided
cup coarsely chopped sweet onion
tablespoons apple cider vinegar
and white pepper, to taste
cup finely diced English cucumbers
cup plain Greek yogurt
tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
garlic clove, minced
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 of the peaches and 2 of the tomatoes into quarters and put
in a food processor or blender. Add the sweet onion and
vinegar and process until smooth.
Chop remaining peach and tomato. Stir into pureed mixture.
Season with salt (if it tastes bitter, the salt will add
sweetness) and white pepper to taste. Chill 1 hour.
Meanwhile, combine cucumber, yogurt and the 2 tablespoons
chopped fresh chives in a medium bowl. Season with salt and
pepper to taste. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours (chilling can
dull the seasoning, so you may need to add more salt and
pepper before serving).
Ladle gazpacho into bowls. Spoon cucumber mixture over
gazpacho. Drizzle each serving with about 1 teaspoon olive
oil and serve immediately.
serving: 112 calories; 6 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; no
cholesterol; 3 g protein; 15 g carbohydrate; 11 g sugar; 3 g
fiber; 7 mg sodium; 25 mg calcium.
from Southern Living magazine
CUCUMBER MELON DRINK
(7-inch) cucumber, peeled
honeydew melon, seeds scooped and chopped
tablespoon fresh mint
ounces lemon vodka
the cucumber and honeydew in a blender. Place the mint in
the bottom of 2 highball glasses and add a little of the
juice to each. Muddle the mint leaves. Add the rest of the
juice and the vodka and fill to the top of the glasses with
tablespoon vegetable oil
teaspoon black mustard seeds, see note
teaspoon cumin seeds, see note
curry leaves, optional, see note
large tomato, diced
teaspoons garam masala
teaspoons coriander powder
teaspoon, or to taste, Indian red chile powder or cayenne
pepper, see note
cucumber, peeled, seeded, cubed
Black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves are
available at Indian markets and some international food
stores. If you don’t have cumin seeds, use 3/4 teaspoon
ground cumin. If you can’t find the curry leaves, leave
them out; do not try to substitute curry powder — it’s
not the same thing. Do not substitute Mexican chili powder
for Indian red chile powder; use cayenne pepper (sometimes
called "ground red pepper") instead. The 1/4
teaspoon of red chile powder will make quite a hot curry;
use less if you prefer a less spicy meal or more if you like
Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat; add mustard
seeds. When they begin to pop, add cumin seeds and curry
leaves, if using. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
the diced tomato simultaneously with the garam masala,
coriander, turmeric, chile powder and salt. Mix well. Add
water and stir. Boil until slightly thickened.
cucumber. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook 3 to 4
minutes. Top with chopped cilantro. Serve with rice or roti.
serving: 100 calories; 8 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; no
cholesterol; 2 g protein; 7 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; 2 g
fiber; 885 g sodium; 40 mg calcium.
adapted from Sanjay Thumma, via Vahrevah.
4 to 6 servings
cup granulated sugar
large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly
small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
sweet bell pepper, red or green, julienned
teaspoon crushed red pepper
small saucepan, heat the vinegar and sugar until the sugar
has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely. Place
the remaining ingredients in a bowl and add the vinegar
mixture. The salad is best if marinated for at least 2
hours. It will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.
serving (based on 4): 110 calories; no fat; no saturated
fat; no cholesterol; 2 g protein; 24 g carbohydrate; 18 g
sugar; 3 g fiber; 28 mg sodium; 39 mg calcium
from "Pojanee Vatanapan’s Thai Cookbook"
SWEET POTATO SALAD
8 to 10 servings
of corn, cooked, kernels cut off
cucumber halved lengthwise, seeded and chopped
red onion, chopped
stalk of celery, diced
1 or 2
jalapeño chiles, diced (see notes)
teaspoons Dijon mustard
tablespoons lime juice (see notes)
clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground allspice (to taste)
tablespoons canola oil (or other neutral oil)
and pepper to taste
cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves (optional)
tablespoons crushed peanuts (optional)
Use up to 2 jalapeño peppers according to taste. Remove
seeds and membrane to reduce the heat. Key limes, if
available, will add a more intense lime flavor.
Dice potatoes into bite-size pieces. Boil, steam or roast
cut potatoes until tender. Be careful not to overcook or the
salad turns to mush. Allow to cool slightly.
Toss cooked potatoes with corn kernels, onion, celery and
jalapeños together in a large bowl.
a smaller bowl, whisk mustard, lime juice, garlic and
allspice together. Add oil in a steady stream, whisking
constantly to emulsify. The mustard will help the dressing
emulsify. Taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Pour dressing over potatoes and vegetables and turn gently
with chopped cilantro and crushed peanuts, if desired.
serving (based on 10): 146 calories; 9 g fat; 1 g saturated
fat; no cholesterol; 2 g protein; 16 g carbohydrate; 4 g
sugar; 2 g fiber; 37 mg sodium; 21 mg calcium.
EASY COUSCOUS TABBOULEH
ounces plain couscous, cooked according to package
directions (see note)
red grape tomatoes
1 to 2
tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves (see note)
finely chopped curly parsley, leaves only
of 1 1/2 large lemons
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
and pepper to taste
You may replace couscous with bulgur, which is the
traditional whole grain for tabbouleh. Khoudian uses 7 to 10
mint leaves, about 2-inches long. He likes a lot of mint in
his dishes and suggests cooks add half, finish the dish,
taste and add more mint if desired.
Prepare couscous according to package directions and set
aside to cool.
Wash the cucumber and cut it in quarters lengthwise. Cut the
quarters into thin slices, about 1/8-inch wide and set
Wash and cut the grape tomatoes in half lengthwise. Set
a large mixing bowl combine the cooked couscous, chopped
cucumbers and tomatoes, mint and parsley.
lemon juice and olive oil. Toss gently to blend. Sample and
add salt and pepper, if needed, to taste.
serving (based on 6 servings): 143 calories; 4 g fat; 1 g
saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 4g protein; 24 g
carbohydrate; 3 g sugar; 2 g fiber; 12 mg sodium; 34 mg
CONCORD GRILL’S PICKLED CUCUMBERS
About 6 cups
cup diced white onion
Peel and trim cucumbers. Cut into quarters lengthwise, then
cut into half-inch pieces. Drop into a storage container.
sugar, vinegar and water and stir well until sugar
Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving. Will
keep several days.
3/4 cup serving: 373 calories; no fat; no saturated fat; no
cholesterol; 1 g protein; 94 g carbohydrate; 92 g sugar; 1 g
fiber; 8 mg sodium; 32 mg calcium.
adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.
SOUP WITH SHRIMP
English cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
avocados, pitted and peeled
cup low-fat plain yogurt
tablespoons fresh lime juice
minced small jalapeño chile (seeds and ribs removed for
less heat), optional
cup sliced green onions
tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt and ground pepper
teaspoon olive oil
medium shrimp (about 6 ounces), peeled and deveined
a blender, combine half the cucumber and 1 avocado with the
yogurt, lime juice, jalapeño, green onion, 1 tablespoon
cilantro, 1 cup ice water, 11/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4
teaspoon pepper. Purée until smooth. Transfer to a large
remaining avocado into 1/4-inch cubes. Stir avocado and
remaining cucumber into soup. Thin with 1/2 to 1 cup ice
water, as desired. Season again with salt and pepper. Chill
about 1 hour.
a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook
shrimp, turning once, until opaque throughout, 2 to 3
minutes. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with shrimp and
remaining tablespoon cilantro.
serving: 240 calories; 17 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 70 mg
cholesterol; 12 g protein; 14 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; 8 g
fiber; 335 g sodium; 115 mg calcium.
from Everyday Food.
RAITA (CUCUMBER AND YOGURT RELISH)
about 3 cups
cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
Greek or regular plain yogurt
tablespoon cilantro leaves (optional)
teaspoons lemon juice (optional)
all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for
at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld.
serving (based on 48 servings): 7 calories; no fat; no
saturated fat; no cholesterol;1 g protein; 1 g carbohydrate;
1 g sugar; no fiber; 3 mg sodium; 5 mg calcium.
from Indian cooking teacher Aruna Menon.