A Surfeit of Cucumbers

The cucumber is a versatile fruit consumed raw in salads, sandwiches, tzatziki, chilled soups or just cut into sticks for dipping sauces.

I typically grow four plants in the polytunnel using a Greenhouse Sensation Quadgrow system. For the last two seasons, I have grown the all-female Passandra F1 which produces a large crop of 'mini-cukes' about 15-20 cm long. I start the seeds off in Fertile Fibre seed compost in an indoor heated propagator during March, transplanting to 3-inch pots during April. If Spring is warm (e.g. 2020), the plants can be transferred to the polytunnel in late April/early May. In cold Springs such as 2021, planting out is delayed until mid or late May. I let the plants grow 'au naturelle' - i.e. without pinching out the side shoots or the growing tip unless the growth interferes with other plants - and tie in the vines every 15 cm or so to support the fruit.

I harvested my first fruit on June 24 (see picture above), a little later than normal due to the cold spring, and expect at least 20 fruits per plant throughout the season. I had a spare Passandra F1 plant (just in case one of the polytunnel plants failed) which I planted outside in the kitchen garden in June. This has already produced 5 good cucumbers but that is probably it for the season.

After giving cucumbers away to friends and neighbours, there are still plenty of cucumbers to eat. Mary is, as I type this, preparing our second batch of Cucumber Relish:

Cucumber Relish

6 x mini-cukes (6") - chopped finely or a few seconds in a food processor (= 5 cups)

1 x onion - chopped finely or a few seconds in a food processor (= 2.5 cups)

1 tbsp salt

Mix and leave for 1-2 hours then drain

2 x cups white vinegar

½ tbsp turmeric

1½ cups sugar

 2 tsp celery seed

3 tsp mustard seed

Combine with drained cucumber/onion and simmer for 15 minutes then transfer to sterilized jars. Keep in fridge. Use within 6 months. 

Cucumber Soup (Vitamix)

Cucumbers are 96% water so I just replace some of the water with a cucumber (8-inch, 400-500 g) in any of my soup recipes such as Cream of Courgette soup. Simples. The cucumber adds piquancy to the soup and can be eaten (drunk?) hot or cold.

German Rice Ring

We bought a copy of The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas in the 1970's which is where this recipe came from. Basically, it is a ring of rice, flavoured with herbs and spices, to which a cheesy sauce of sauteed cucumbers is added in the middle. Here is a typical recipe. We do not peel or deseed our home-grown cucumbers and we also add other items to the rice such as mushrooms, beans (kidney, cannellini, etc), tomatoes, etc. An easy and simple dish to prepare.

Cooked Cucumber as a Side Dish

Cucumbers can be roasted (Fan, 170 ℃, 40 min, rapeseed oil, dill, salt & pepper) in the oven as a side vegetable.

No need to peel (greenhouse varieties) but you can remove the centre/seeds if you wish. Slice as chips or cylinders. I don't but you can sprinkle with salt and leave for an hour to draw out some of the moisture then rinse and dry before coating in oil, salt, pepper and herbs/spices. Also, try slicing and adding to stir-fries.

Cucumber and Apple Chutney

We recently found a 6-year old Kilner Jar of Cucumber and Apple chutney at the back of a cupboard. Tastes as good as it did 6 years ago! We think this was the recipe...

Makes 6 x 1lb jars:

2lb (1 kg) cucumber from the polytunnel

2lb (1 kg) apples (cookers or eaters)

1lb 8oz (650 g) onions

3/4 pint (450 ml) malt vinegar

1lb (500 g) demerara sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp mustard powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

  1. Peel, core, chop apples
  2. Peel & finely chop onions
  3. Cut cucumber lengthways, scoop out seeds & chop finely (Ridge cukes should be peeled as well)
  4. Put, apples, onions and cucumber in large pan with the vinegar and bring to th boil. Simmer til soft
  5. Add sugar, salt and spices; stir until the sugar dissolves
  6. Continue simmering until chutney thickens with the occasional stir to prevent sticking (about 1 hour)
  7. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal
Bulgarian Salad

Tomorrow, I will raid the polytunnel for tomatoes, sweet peppers and cucumber and the kitchen garden for garlic and herbs to make this delicious salad best eaten with fresh bread.

3 large tomatoes (chopped)
1 small pepper
1/3 cucumber
Handful of black olives
Minced garlic
Fresh oregano & mint
Black pepper
3tbsp olive oil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
Feta cheese (optional)


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