The perfect mix of sweet, tangy, little bit fiery, and fresh. The stuff my Nanny (read: grandma) always had in the fridge in summer as soon as the cucumbers were ripe in her Tennessee garden. My version is sweeter than it is tangy and has a spicy little bite from hot peppers. I use it as a topper for salads, a side dish at almost every meal, and on sandwiches all summer..except maybe PB&Js. This week the Farmer's Market yielded golden cucumbers and new red onions which made the wonderfully colorful jar on the right. And within 24 hrs it had a lovely pink hue from those onions.
I look for smallish cucumbers usually, but this long english cucumber (like the kind shrinkwrapped in the store) makes a really good choice because the seedy part is minimal and never mushy. The golden cukes turned out to be fairly green inside and quite seedy so I scooped that part with a spoon.
I think these are best when cut very thin. A mandoline makes quick work of this step. I use my über cheap, ancient Ronco slicer-dicer gadget (set to #2, for anyone out there who is lucky enough to have one of these little baby dinosaurs lying around). Go ahead and layer cucumbers alternating with onions in the jar before pouring on the liquid. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water with 3/4 cup vinegar, good pinch of salt and pepper. I whisk this together but it really doesn't matter whether the sugar dissolves now or after you pour into the jar. It will all work out.
|Ratio is 3 times as much vinegar as sugar.|
Slowly pour the liquid until it is almost to the top. The cucumbers will release more juice and top it off within a few hours. For the yellow cukes I used Champagne vinegar. You can try various others, but plain white is the standby.
I add the peppers last because they're easiest to get into place after the liquid. Slip a butter knife into the jar to gently press back the vegetables and make room to slide the peppers in all around. I know they're beautiful, but don't get too carried away unless you like it HOT! Because it's still a little early for fresh red peppers I used these dried Ancho Chiles which turn bright red again in the jar.
I added one more flavor element to this jar. It's a garlic scape, the top part of the growing garlic that is chopped off early in the season. These keep for ages in the fridge and I still had some from weeks ago. They impart a nice mild garlic flavor and look kind of interesting in the jar and not snakey at all, hmm. Some fresh dill goes in last right on the top. I only had a little to add this week, but the more the merrier, if you have plenty. Give these a day to flavor up and have at 'em! They only get better and better as the days go by, not that you can expect them to last very long.
THE SHOPPING LIST4-6 small cucumbers
1 vidalia onion
Today you can find me on the Food Network website! Summer Fest is underway at FN Dish and this week we're all blogging about Cucumbers. Stay tuned for more summer fruit and veg posts throughout the summer and in the mean time check out these other great blogs about cukes:
Pinch My Salt: Chilled Cucumber, Kefir and Avocado Soup
What’s Gaby Cooking: Cucumber-Basil Gimlet
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Radish-Cucumber Crostini
Big Girl Small Kitchen: Spicy Cucumber Salad with Shallot, Ginger and Mint
Grecian Kitchen: Summer Cucumber Salad
And Love It Too: Cucumber, Mint and Watermelon Salad
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cucumbers Coolers with Agave Simple Syrup
Cooking With My Kid: Cucumber Limeade
FN Dish: Summer Fest: Cucumber Recipes
CIA Dropout: Relishing Cucumbers
Healthy Eats: Cool Cucumber Soup
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Cucumber Cherry Salsa
Cooking With Elise: Green Tea Cucumber Pops
Glory Foods: Cucumber and Shrimp Boat
Virtually Vegan Mama: Fire-Roasted Tomato and Cucumber Gazpacho
Cooking Channel: Cucumbers Stuffed with Crab-Mango Salad
Recipe Girl: Bread and Butter Pickles
Taste With the Eyes: Spicy Pickled Cucumbers with Wakame and Garlic Blossoms
Virtually Homemade: Cold Thai Cucumber-Mint Soup
Add a Pinch: Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
The Cultural Dish: Ahi Tuna with Cucumber Sauce and Salad
Daydreamer Desserts: Cubanita Margarita
Purple Cook: Cucumber Gazpacho with Indian Flavored Shrimp Relish
Indian Simmer: Cucumber at its Best with Chaat Masala
Big Apple Nosh: Quick and Easy Homemade Pickles
Sweet Life Bake: Agua de PepinoThe Sensitive Epicure: Tzatziki with Grilled Gluten-Free Pitas and Fresh Cucumbers and Peppers
Zaika Zabardast: Cucumber Gazpacho
A Way to Garden: Cucumber-Growing Q&A and the Best PicklesCooking with Books: Summer Fest: Cucumbers