With summer in full swing, there is no better way to rehydrate and rejuvenate than with a fresh snack from the garden. Tomatoes, onions, potatoes, carrots, peppers, cabbage, and herbs can all be found in our Alabama vegetable gardens. But for some, the star of the show is the cucumber.
Cucumbers are made up of 95% water and are a good source of hydration in the summer heat. According to healthline.com, cucumbers are full of nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants and can aid in digestion, cardiovascular health and promote weight loss. Aside from the health benefits, cucumbers are versatile and can be made into pickles and can be used in marinades, dressings and relishes.
“The one thing you can’t do with cucumbers is freeze them,” says Angela Treadaway, regional extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. “They’re mostly water, so freezing them changes the texture.” She says her grandfather had a chow-chow recipe made with cucumbers, tomatoes, red and green peppers that he would make when she was growing up. “It was a really good relish to have in the summer or spring,” says Treadaway.
Treadaway grows cucumbers in her garden and one of her favorite ways to prepare cucumbers is to pickle them (see her tips below.) – Tessa Battles
Treadaway’s tips for pickling cucumbers:
- Make sure you get pickling cucumbers. Not all cucumbers are pickling cucumbers so it is always best to check.
- Cut the blossom end of the cucumber off about ¼ of an inch from the bottom. This end contains the enzymes that cause the cucumbers to continue to ripen.
- Use small cucumbers so that large seeds do not cause bitterness.
For more information on pickling, see the
Extension System’s website: www.aces.edu.
From the The Buttered Home
Refrigerator Pickles are an easy way to have fresh pickles any time. They are also a great way to use an overabundance of cucumbers you may have. During the summer months we always have lots of cucumbers and this is a perfect way to use them! We favor the dill variety but these are a greatp balance of dill and slightly sweet, too. Not only are they tasty, but they also make excellent food gifts.
- 1 or 2 medium cucumbers
- 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of dill
- Quart jar
Use a mandolin or knife to slice cucumbers about ¼-inch thick. Fill your quart jar with as many cucumber slices as you can fit. Sprinkle a little dill in about halfway. Leave a small space at the top of the jar, about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch.
In a medium saucepan, heat sugar, vinegar and salt just until sugar and salt dissolve. Let cool slightly.
Pour over jarred cucumbers and fill the rest of the way with water. You shouldn’t need much water. Remember to leave a little space at the top of the jar. Screw on lid just until tight, not overly so. Allow to cool on the counter for about 1 to 2 hours.
Place in refrigerator and allow to steep overnight. They should last about two weeks in the refrigerator.
Be sure to check out The Buttered Home’s newest recipe and video for Fresh Cucumber, Tomato and Onion Summer Salad at thebutteredhome.com/fresh-cucumber-tomato-and-onion-summer-salad. We’ll also be posting this video on the Alabama Living Facebook page.
Cook of the Month: Mary McGriff, Cullman EC
Mary McGriff is a collector of recipes. When she comes across a recipe she likes, she writes it down and adds it to her collection. Several years ago, her husband pastored a church where she encountered her winning recipe for Cucumber Relish for the first time. A lady at her church prepared the dish and Mary asked for the recipe. “I make it every year,” she says. “And it’s always good.” And, good news to some, a home garden is not required. Mary says she does not grow her own cucumbers, but they are given to her or she buys them from the market. She also says the onion and pepper needed for the recipe can be put through a shredder to save time.
– Tessa Battles
- 8 cups cucumbers, peeled and diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 1 cup green pepper, diced
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon celery seed
- 1 tablespoon mustard seed
Mix first 4 ingredients together. Heat remaining ingredients to a boil and pour over first 4 ingredients. Let stand 30 minutes. Reheat to near boiling. Pour into hot jars and seal. Cucumbers, celery, onion and green pepper can be put through a shredder. It is much quicker and tastes the same.
- 2-3 cucumbers
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
- Dash of garlic powder
Blend cucumbers, cream cheese and garlic powder in a food processor until smooth. Mayonnaise is added to thin the dip. Start with a heaping spoonful and mix. If you want a thinner consistency, add mayonnaise until you reach desired consistency. Great as a spread for sandwiches instead of mayonnaise and makes a good dip for vegetables.
Beth Casey, Sand Mountain EC
Marinated Cucumber Tomato Salad
- 2 cucumbers, peeled and cubed
- 4 tomatoes, stem removed and cubed
- ½ Vidalia onion, cut in big pieces
- ½ red, green, or yellow pepper, cut in big pieces
- 4 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 packet natural Stevia (about ½ teaspoon)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
Mix marinade in a small bowl. Pour over vegetables and stir well. Cover and keep at room temperature for 45 minutes. Stir and re-cover. Refrigerate at least 6 hours. Stir again and serve.
Julie Williquette, Joe Wheeler EMC
Cucumber Watermelon Salad with Feta Cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large cucumber, sliced thin
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine or
- champagne vinegar
- 6 cups cubed watermelon, seeds removed
- 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup black olives, sliced
- 1/8 cup fresh dill, chopped
Combine sugar, apple cider vinegar, water, mustard seeds and salt in a medium boiler over medium to high heat. Bring just to a boil and remove from heat. Cool completely. Place sliced cucumber in a large bowl, pour cooled vinegar/sugar mixture over cucumbers. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours. Strain liquid and seeds off cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate until time to serve. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil with white wine or champagne vinegar. Set aside. To serve, Place 1/6th of cucumbers on a salad plate. Place one cup of watermelon cubes on the same plate. Top each plate evenly with feta cheese, mint, olives and fresh dill. Drizzle evenly with vinaigrette.
-The Buttered Home
Cucumber Tzatziki Sauce
- 2 cups or 1 large or 2 medium cucumbers, (no need to seed or peel) grated
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened low-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Place grated cucumber in a tea towel and lightly squeeze to remove excess water. Place squeezed cucumber into a large bowl. Add yogurt, olive oil, dill, mint, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Mix well. Allow to sit uncovered at room temperature for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust herbs and salt according to preference. Serve immediately or cover and place in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Enjoy this sauce on just about anything!
-The Buttered Home
Cucumber Caprese Salad
- 3 medium tomatoes, sliced
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 3 medium cucumbers, sliced
- Drizzle of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 5 large basil leaves, cut into ribbons
Overlap tomato slices on a platter. Alternate cucumber slices and mozzarella slices on top of tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle Basil ribbons on top.
-The Buttered Home