PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock
August 13, 2014

After putting up more than 75 jars of dill pickles, bread-and-butter pickles and pickle relish this week, we started feeling a little too pickled ourselves. Thanks to early spring rains and a mild summer here in Wisconsin, our cucumber crop exceeded our expectations, and those little green wonders kept piling on the counter.

It wasn’t until yesterday, when we pulled that last quart jar from the canner, that we realized we were done with pickle making for the season. However, the cucumber harvest is still coming in, and while we’re still enjoying them in simple salads with a dash of rice vinegar, salt, sugar and dill, we need new ways to use them.

As our usual garden strategy goes, if you can’t eat them all, start drinking. Just as we did with rhubarb, we’re giving cucumbers a refreshing twist in summer beverages.

In our two favorite recipes below, we use the whole cucumber. You’ll see variations on cucumber drinks that strain out the cucumber pulp, but because we grew these cukes, we want to use as much as possible. We don’t allow pulp in the compost when it can end up in our glasses—and we get more nutrients that way, as well.

We like to use smaller, odd-shaped cucumbers for these beverages, so in our ingredient list you’ll notice cucumber measured in cups. One cup is about a medium cucumber.


Recipe: Cucumber Water

Yield: about 8 cups

Flavored waters might be all the rage, but most come with a long-list of chemical flavorings and colors. Cucumbers make the ultimate “vitamin water,” as they contain vitamin A, C, K and potassium. Cucumbers are also a natural anti-inflammatory, so drinking this zero-calorie water can help alleviate water retention.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers
  • 1 T. lemon juice (1/4 of a fresh lemon)
  • 8 cups water

Preparation

Place cucumbers in a half-gallon canning jar. (A half-gallon canning jar makes this process super easy because you can just add cucumbers to the two-cup line.) Add lemon juice and water, and infuse overnight. Shake before serving. The chilled cucumbers in the water make for good snacking.


Recipe: Cucumber Margarita

We know what you’re thinking: Cucumbers and tequila simply don’t belong together. We hear you, as we honestly weren’t thinking this combination would taste this good, but now we’re hooked. This summer cocktail is light and flavorful. By leaving the pulp in the drink, it takes on a smoothie-like texture. This margarita probably even qualifies as one of your daily required vegetable servings, so you might as well have two!

Cucumber Margarita - Photo courtesy iStock/Thinkstock (HobbyFarms.com)

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 T. lime juice (1/2 a small fresh lime)
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup triple sec (or another orange-based liqueur)
  • 2 T. agave syrup (can substitute honey or simple syrup)
  • 1 cup ice

Preparation

In blender, purée cucumber, lime juice, tequila, triple sec and agave syrup. Add ice and blend under smooth, or simply pour over ice. Serve with a lemon balm garnish.



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