Valley Bounty, July 20, 2013: Cucumbers
Too hot to cook? Find salvation in cucumbers. They’re cool and crunchy, and if you serve them with filling dips—hummus, baba ganoush, or a fresh local goat cheese mixed with yogurt and herbs—they can serve as dinner. A blender cucumber soup, paired with green salad and fresh bread, is another way to avoid turning on your kitchen range.
Cucumbers are plentiful in farmers’ markets, on farmstands, and at retailers sourcing local across the Valley. Look for traditional green cucumbers, pickling cukes (which are fine for eating fresh, as well), long European or Asian varieties, or blunt yellow cucumbers which are delicious fresh and never bitter. CISA’s list of cucumber growers is here.
Here are two variations on a cucumber soup via Mountain View Farm’s recipe page. This Chilled Cucumber Soup, with a buttermilk/yogurt base, requires no cooking. You may have to wait a couple of weeks for the local watermelons to come in to try the Watermelon and Cucumber Gazpacho.
Here is Red Fire Farm’s baba ganoush recipe (this freezes well, too!).
Preserving = Pickles!
There are lots of ways to make pickles, and of course you can pickle lots of things, not just cucumbers. Here are a few places to get you started with different approaches.
- Refrigerator pickles. These are the easiest of all. Most recipes suggest you heat up the brine and pour it over the vegetables, but once you have a jar in the fridge, you can just keep sticking new vegetables into it as fast as you eat them out of it. In the write-up for the recipe above, Marisa McLellan of the blog Food in Jars talks about how to choose whether or not to can your pickles. She’s also got an Asian-inspired variety. If you want to get fancy, try this version from Smitten Kitchen with beautiful julienned veggies.
- Basic canned vinegar pickles. This recipe from Alice Waters, via Berkshire-based cookbook author Alana Chernila, is not processed, so it’s also quite easy, although the jars must be sterilized.
- Lacto-fermented pickles from Sandor Ellix Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation.