Cravings for summer’s subtle vegetable

By Lynette L. Walther | Sep 03, 2020
Photo by: Lynette L. Walther Use any kind of garden-fresh cucumbers to make fresh refrigerator pickles.

Most folks could not imagine a summer vegetable garden without tomatoes; indeed, tomatoes are considered the top in popular items to grow at home. But for me, I simply cannot envision a vegetable garden without cucumbers.

Cucumbers are one of the more subtle vegetables best grown at home and eaten within hours of picking. Take your typical store-bought cucumber, for example. It is often enrobed in a greasy coating, there to help preserve it, no doubt. That alone is enough to turn a lot of folks off from cucumbers.

Then said cucumber is basically just a tasteless vehicle for dressing in a salad. But a fresh, homegrown cucumber is a divine thing. It possesses a delicate flavor and bouquet that is fleeting, it is to be enjoyed the day of its harvest.

Fresh with a splash of balsamic dressing, a plate of sliced fresh-from-the-garden cucumbers is indeed a dish fit for any king. We do enjoy many plates of chilled, crispy cuke slices.

The summer’s cucumbers star in several more complicated dishes as well, a savory Asian noodle salad or Swedish-inspired bowls of sliced cucumbers dressed with either yogurt or sour cream and garlic. They are indeed some of the culinary joys of summer.

The cucumber harvest has been splendid this summer, and oh my those fresh crispy cukes are so good. But the real cucumber goldmine are the refrigerator pickles that elicit what our late friend, The Major, used to call “pregnant cravings.”

Oh yes, we do crave those pickles. So if you are facing a Mount Katahdin of cucumbers and have exhausted your own repertoire of cucumber recipes, I suggest you give these recipes a try.

Word of warning: They are liable to induce pregnant cravings that can only be satisfied with homegrown cucumbers.

About as easy and quick to make as anything can be, the simple ingredients combine to create a symphony of flavor. And crunchy? These pickles define the word. A batch of four pints or two quart jars mixes up in just minutes. Really. Then let them “stew” in your refrigerator for two days and voila! Pickles the likes of which you’ve never tasted. No cooking, honest.

The sweet pickles are just as easy — only quicker — ready to enjoy in eight hours. Cucumbers never tasted so divine. These pickles are quick. They’re easy and best of all — so good.

Refrigerator dill pickles

8 to 10 fresh cucumbers (maybe more depending on their size)

4 fresh dill heads or several pieces fresh dill weed

8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise

1.5 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1.5 cups rice wine or other mild vinegar

2 cups water

Whole peppercorns

Slice cucumbers down their length and then slice each half down its length to create “spears.” Place one dill head, a few of the peppercorns and two cloves garlic in bottom of each of four pint jars. Start slipping cucumber spears into jars, filling jars as tightly packed as possible without crushing spears.

Mix together the salt, sugar, vinegar and water, stirring until sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour liquid into jars to completely cover cucumbers. Screw on lids and place jars in refrigerator for two days. Enjoy your fresh and crunchy dill pickles!

Quickie sweet cucumber/onion pickles

1/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup rice-wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 red onions, thinly sliced

2 cups thinly sliced garden-fresh cucumbers

6 fresh sprigs of dill

Whole peppercorns

Combine the sugar, vinegar and salt, stirring until dissolved and stir in olive oil.

Place sliced onions and cucumbers in a glass, plastic or ceramic bowl and pour vinegar mixture over. Toss to coat vegetables and add peppercorns to taste (about a teaspoon). Cover and refrigerate overnight or eight hours to pickle. Mixture will keep, refrigerated, about a week.

Lynette L. Walther is the GardenComm Gold medal winner for writing and a five-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal of Achievement and the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award. Her gardens are in Camden.

If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at waldo.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at waldo.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (1)
Posted by: Drucinda Woodman | Sep 04, 2020 14:26

Nice article! If you still have EXTRA garden produce you can always CALL Knox Co GLEANERS ! r go to their Facebook page .They can help you AND deliver the cukes, tomatoes, beans,swiss chard,etc to local food pantries.



If you wish to comment, please login.