You’re standing in your kitchen right now with your hands on your hips thinking, “What on *earth* am I going to do with all these cucumbers?!”
Now I’m here to help you out with that. How about cucumber sandwiches (no recipe necessary for that), gazpacho, fridge pickles (no canning required!) or fermented spicy cucumber kraut? If I told you kimchi today when I was giving you your veggies… sorry. I got mixed up, I meant kraut.
There’s a website called Real Food Freaks that posted a recipe just last week for Fermented Spicy Cucumber Kraut – think sauerkraut but made with cucumber. And because it’s fermented you can keep it around for a long time and still preserve the nutrients and tastiness.
- 3 1/2 cups cucumber (finely grated in a food processor)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon dried onion (Or 1/4 cup fresh)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons liquid whey
- 1 heaped tablespoon sea salt
- filtered water (to cover)
- 4 pieces chili peppers, chopped (These are mini,but spicy, from the Asian store. Use more or less to taste)
Lacto-fermentation is the process of fermentation using a fruit or vegetables natural enzymes to make a vinegar. The end product is a live probiotic that will aid in digestion of proteins and other hard to digest foods. Lacto-fermentation also helps to build your bodies good flora and will assist in fighting off the bad bacteria that will make you sick.
|Step 1||Grate the cucumber and set aside. (Make sure you cut of the cucumber ends first. There is an enzyme in the ends that will make the cucs mushy if you don’t)|
|Step 2||In a quart mason jar add all the ingredients except water and cucumber.|
|Step 3||Add grated cucumber to the jar and fill with water. Leaving 1 inch of air at the top. I usually add a lettuce leaf at the top to hold the ferment under the liquid.|
|Step 4||Cover tightly. Leave at room temperature for 3 – 5 days. Test to see if it is slightly sour at day three if not keep fermenting.|
When soured to taste, refrigerate. Then enjoy!
It sounds pretty straightforward, and I’m going to give it a try myself this week so I’ll let you know how it works for us.
Another idea for helping to use up some of the cukes, that will buy you at least a week or two of time to go through them, is to make fridge pickles with them. It’s great for the smaller pickles and ones with a few more bumps on them (they tend to make crispier pickles), and it can be done in small batches. The extra-special beauty of fridge pickles is that anyone can make them, and you don’t have to worry about traditional canning – you just can’t leave them out at room temperature. HipGirlsHome.com has a great page all about fridge pickles and provides the following instructions:
Here’s the formula for making roughly one quart or two pints of fridge pickles:
1. Wash and cut up your vegetables and pack them into a clean jar. Use whatever veg you’ll eat (or put into a martini): cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, onions, garlic, etc. Weight of your starting produce will vary depending on what you’re pickling. Eyeball it at the market, and if you end up with too little veg, just use a smaller jar (or make more brine to account for extra space in the jar).
It’s up to your palate how to prepare the veggies. I’m a fan of the raw pack (putting the veg in the jar raw), but if you like a more tender, cooked texture, then you can blanch the veggies and/or cook them in the brine (step 3) for a bit to soften them up.
2. Add spices, fresh or dried directly to the jar. For a quart jar, use anywhere between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp of whole dried spices like peppercorns, fennel, cumin, coriander, dill, cloves, or whatever sounds delicious to you.
3. Combine in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil:
- 1 cup any kind of vinegar
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1 Tbs of Kosher or any non-iodized salt
You can add sugar if you like a sweet pickle, but the above is a standard tart pickle recipe. Try starting with 1 tsp sugar; be sure to taste the brine to see if you like it.
4. Pour your just-boiled brine over the vegetables in the jar.
5. Wipe any vinegar spills from the rim with a clean towel or a paper towel and put on the lid. Any lid is fine here since you’re not shelf-sealing the jar, reuse your already used two-piece lids or recycle those single-piece screw lids that once capped salsa, tomato sauce or peanut butter.
6. Now for the hard part. Hide the jar in the back of the fridge for at least a week. Two weeks is better, and three weeks is best. Your pickles will only continue to become more deliciously infused. But if you break into them early, I won’t tell. They’ll keep what seems like forever, but if you have pickle experiments in there from more than 6 months back it’s probably time to do a fridge inventory.
That leaves us with gazpacho. You can put practically any summer veggies in a gazpacho, and it’s a great way to use some of the lovely garlic that was in your bins today, too. I found a cucumber-based gazpacho recipe at foodandstyle.com but next week once we have more tomatoes than the tiny taste you got this week, I’ll post a recipe for a tomato-based gazpacho.
Chilled Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Fresh Mint
serves 4 as an appetizer or 12 as an hors d’oeuvre
active time: 20 min
For the soup
- 1 3/4 lbs (794gr) seedless cucumbers – peeled and cut in 3” pieces (or 2 lbs (907gr) regular cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut in 3″ pieces)
- 1/4 medium red onion – skinned
- 1 garlic clove – skinned
- 1 jalapeño – stem removed, halved and seeded
- 8 large mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 – 6oz (170gr) non-fat plain yogurt
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup spring water to taste
For the garnishes
- lemon oil
- 1 medium yellow tomato – seeded and cut in 1/8” cubes (or 8 yellow grape tomatoes quartered)
- tiny mint leaves
- Step 1: Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor with 1/2 cup of the spring water. Pulse a few times so the ingredients are coarsely chopped, then process until soup is very smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. If necessary, thin with the remaining water to the desired consistency.
- Step 2: Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight, until well chilled. Place the soup in the freezer for 30 minutes before serving.
- Step 3: Ladle soup in chilled soup bowls or cocktail glasses. Drizzle a little lemon oil in the center of each bowl. Garnish with a few tomato cubes, a mint leaf and serve immediately.
- Cook’s note: The soup can be refrigerated up to 2 days.
It sounds delicious!
We’re super happy to be getting back in the swing of things here at Our Farm, and we’d like to thank you once again for your patience and understanding during the drought. We’ll have more selection in the next few weeks, and things are starting to really perk back up with the rain we’ve had. We’re very encouraged and we’re looking forward to having bountiful harvests throughout the rest of the summer and fall.
Have a wonderful week!
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