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5 Cool Ways to Use Your Cucumber Harvest

Are you already over the cucumber-tomato salad? Use up your bumper of cukes in new and exciting ways!

By Elizabeth Troutman Adams


When the summer harvest is in full swing, many of us gardeners and farmers find ourselves in quite a cucumber quandary—in a pickle, you might say. We’re confronted with loads of crispy green cucurbits waiting to be eaten, stowed away or maybe even draped over a pair of puffy eyes. The prescription for a plentiful harvest of cucumbers has always been the tried-and-true approach of packing dill pickles. While canning pickles is a sufficient method for extending the life of the cucumber, a farmer only needs so many cans of those sour spears to last through the winter.

When the summer harvest gets overwhelming, consider these creative, simple and untraditional methods for making the most of your cucumbers.

1. Cucumber, Basil and Lemon Sorbet

5 WAys to Use Your Cucumber Harvet - Photo by Elizabeth Troutman Adams (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Elizabeth Troutman Adams

The cucumber’s cool and refreshing essence is complemented by a burst of lemon’s tartness and basil’s earthiness in this icy summertime treat. This is also a great way to use that proliferating basil in your garden. You’ll need an ice cream machine for the final phase of the work.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 bunch basil (lemon basil or other type)
  • 3 English cucumbers, skinned and seeded
  • 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest

Preparation
In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar, bring to a boil, and simmer and stir until sugar is completely dissolved, 10 to15 minutes. Remove from heat and add in basil, allowing leaves to steep for at least 30 minutes. Cool syrup in refrigerator.

While syrup is cooling, use blender or food processor to blend cucumbers, lemon juice and zest until smooth. Once basil syrup is cool, add it to cucumber mixture and stir. Refrigerate overnight.  

Stop here if you want to enjoy this treat as a slushy. Otherwise, process in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Let the sorbet freeze in a chilled container for at least two hours before serving.

2. Benedictine Spread

5 WAys to Use Your Cucumber Harvet - Photo by Elizabeth Troutman Adams (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Elizabeth Troutman Adams

A southern staple, the seafoam-hued Benedictine spread is traditionally served on triangle-cut tea sandwiches. When I was a child, my rural Kentucky-raised grandmother whipped up a creamy version that was heavy on onions for casual ladies’ lunches. (Be sure to take a breath mint after eating!) This spread is easy and quick to make and is great for munching during a casual picnic.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 English cucumbers, seeded, skinned and chopped into chunks
  • 1 chopped white onion
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • dash of salt
  • 1 T. Tabasco sauce
  • 1 T. lemon juice

Preparation
Soften cream cheese at room temperature. In blender, finely process cucumber and onion. Transfer mixture to bowl and add remaining ingredients. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

3. Hot and Spicy Cucumber Kimchi

5 WAys to Use Your Cucumber Harvet - Photo by Elizabeth Troutman Adams (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Elizabeth Troutman Adams

The Korean dish kimchi is a colorful fermented salad most commonly made with Napa cabbage. However, many chefs suggest cucumbers as a pleasant cabbage substitute—and these recipes last for weeks in a refrigerator. Try this recipe adapted from cHow Divine.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large cucumbers, cut into 3 to 4-inch quarter spears (You can use pickling or English cucumbers; if using English, peel
  • the skin and leave the seeds.)
  • 2 T., plus 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 T. fresh minced ginger, or one large root cut into chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 T. fish sauce
  • 1 spicy chili, seeded and chopped (I used a cayenne pepper, but a Thai chili pepper will work with the Asian flavors; jalapeño will also work.)
  • 5 small carrots, skinned and sliced thin or into matchstick pieces
  • 5 chopped green onions or chives
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 T. red pepper flakes

Preparation
In shallow bowl, combine cucumbers with 2 tablespoons sea salt. Let sit for about 30 minutes, then rinse off salt. Transfer to shallow, large airtight container, and mix with the carrots, onions and green onions.

In blender or food processor, combine ginger, garlic and the pepper until a paste forms. Stir in honey and fish sauce. Spread ginger paste over the cucumber mixture and toss with your hands (use gloves). Cover with wrap and tightly seal for at least 24 hours before consuming. You can then move the kimchi to a mason jar with a seal, which will continue developing flavor and keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator.

4. Persian-Style Refrigerator Pickles

5 WAys to Use Your Cucumber Harvet - Photo by Elizabeth Troutman Adams (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Elizabeth Troutman Adams

We couldn’t entirely dismiss pickling as if it’s not a valid means of preserving cucumbers—frankly, it’s one of the best methods for extending cukes’ lifespan. But try to change-up the spicing and flavoring when making a pickle recipe. Replace the familiar flavor of savory dill with an eyebrow-raising hot spice or herb from your garden. This recipe adapted from Canning for a New Generation (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010) uses tarragon in Persian tradition as an alternative to dill.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 small pickling cucumbers, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, skinned but whole
  • 4 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 1 T. coriander seeds
  • 4 dried chiles
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups water

Preparation
Place cucumbers, garlic, tarragon, coriander seeds and chiles in two quart-sized mason jars. In another bowl, dissolve vinegar and salt in water to form a brine. Pour brine over cucumber and herbs. Refrigerate for four weeks before consuming. These will keep for as long as three months in the refrigerator.

5. Cucumber, Oats and Yogurt Facemask

5 WAys to Use Your Cucumber Harvet - Photo by Elizabeth Troutman Adams (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Elizabeth Troutman Adams

Cucumbers are wonderful ingredients for beauty, too, with the ability to hydrate and nourish the skin. This homemade facemask will leave your skin feeling naturally clean, and tingling too.

Ingredients

  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 2 T. Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup oats

Preparation
Blend cucumber in a blender or food processor until smooth. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, or grind down with a mortar and pestle. Apply to face for at least 10 minutes and rinse thoroughly.

Find more great ways to use up your harvest:

About the Author: Elizabeth Troutman Adams is a public-relations specialist and freelance writer based in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. In addition to gardening, cooking and homesteading, she loves riding horses, practicing yoga, and spending time with her French bulldog Linus and husband Shawn. She blogs at www.bluegrassgoodness.com.

 

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5 Cool Ways to Use Your Cucumber Harvest

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Reader Comments
Interesting ideas.
Sarah, Marathon, ON
Posted: 7/13/2014 11:26:57 AM
Excellent ideas! I always have way more cukes than I can eat fresh.
Ellen, Madison, WI
Posted: 7/11/2014 4:18:08 PM
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