We’ve been giving them away freely, and processing them madly, and picking them daily. We always said we wanted to be inundated by a vegetable, and when it comes to this year’s cucumbers, it’s be careful what you wish for.
The reason for this surplus is probably good timing in my war on cucumber beetles, which in past years have spread a disease that has wilted the plants. This year our zucchinis made flowers before the cucumbers did, and the yellow-and-black beetles went after them. During July, I went out several times each morning with tweezers and sent over 100 beetles to their maker. Because of the shape of zucchini flowers, the beetles have no escape route when confronted with tweezers, whereas with cucumber flowers they can fly away.
With our tomato harvest way down because of late blight, we have enjoyed our cucumber glut. I enjoy eating them with hummus sandwiches, and they are tangy when marinated in vinegar. When her British brother-in-law was visiting, he told Betsy how to make cucumber sandwiches. Betsy also followed internet directions for drying grated and dewatered cucumber, but the amount you get is tiny, since cucumbers are mostly water. We also made some cold cucumber soup with yogurt and Indian Raita.
Unlike tomatoes, you can’t really can or freeze cucumbers, so if you want to enjoy them in the wintertime, the only thing to do is to pickle them.
Betsy likes the approach presented in “Wild Fermentation” By Sandor Katz. She washed three to four pounds of pickling cukes in filtered water and put them in a plastic bucket with 3 Tablespoons dill seed, plus peppercorns and cut-up garlic. She added grape leaves to keep the pickles firm. Then she mixed pickling salt with filtered water and poured it in the bucket, keeping the cucumbers under the surface with a weighted plate, then covered it with a cloth. After a week, the cucumbers turned into pickles and she put them in the fridge.
We also made bread-and-butter pickles, which are sweet and wonderful with tuna or any fish. These jars of pickles, which went through a hot-water bath, are now stored in our basement. They were described in a previous post. Here’s the recipe.
Our pickling cuke vines are petering out now, but the ones producing slicing cukes are still going strong. Picking them daily just encourages them to make more cucumbers. We’ve enjoyed The Summer the Cucumbers Came to Stay, but it would be OK with us if they take a breather now that September is upon us.
Anyone want a cucumber?