Cucumbers

June-Sept

Know that you may receive pickling cucumbers (also called Kirby), slicing cucumbers or the occasion beautiful English-type cucumber. If the cucumbers are quite ripe, their seeds will be pretty large. Depending on how you feel about cucumber seeds, you may want to scoop them out like you would the seeds of a butternut squash. The English cucumber will always tiny seeds that should never present an issue.

Cucumbers are mostly water, so they need to be refrigerated in such a way that they don’t start to wilt. But they also need to be eaten up pretty quickly. They will start to develop mushy spots and soon the whole cucumber is ruined. So put them somewhere that they will remind you they’re waiting to be consumed.

And you can use my favorite trick of going ahead and prepping them for snacking so they’re easy to just grab and eat.

When I can, I like to make my favorite cucumber sandwiches, which I find are best when I peel and slice the cucumbers and then marinate them just a while in rice wine vinegar. A slice of bread spread with seasoned cream cheese (fennel fronds, garlic, dill, basil, seasoned salt – your choice) and then layered with cucumber slices – I wait for those sandwiches the way some folks wait for the first tomato sandwich of the year.

Pickles are a great way to use a lot of cucumbers in a hurry, and pickles can be very easy or very complicated. The easiest pickles are kosher dills, which at their simplest are just cucumbers packed in a jar with a salt brine, garlic and fresh dill. You just need a quart jar, your washed cucumbers (whole or in quarters), some garlic cloves (also in the box), fresh dill and a brine of about 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt to a quart of water. Pack the jar with the cucumbers, garlic and dill, and cover them with brine. I like to put them immediately in the refrigerator, and in about 2 days they are like the half dills you get at a great Kosher deli. In a week or two they’ll be fully brined, and they will keep in the refrigerator all summer. It’s a great way to use up just a few cucumbers at a time. Be sure to do it while the cucumbers are freshest, though. And if you have some salt brine left over, just put it in a jar and keep it until you’re ready to put up another jar of pickles.