Cooking With Cucumbers

General Hints

Cucumbers have more flavor when served warm, especially just out of the garden. If you don’t intend to serve them immediately upon picking, chill them to preserve their flavor for 3 to 5 days. Cucumbers usually do not need to be peeled if picked from the garden, unless they happen to be bitter or over-ripe. If you remove the seeds from an over-ripe cucumber, you can treat it the same as a younger fruit in any recipe. If you have a cucumber that’s wilted and not as firm as it used to be, you can restore most of its crispness by soaking it in salted ice water for 1 to 2 hours

Slice cucumbers, sprinkle on a bit of salt, some wine 

vinegar, throw in some chopped onion and fresh tomates. Let the mix 

sit for 20 minutes or even over night. Add a bit of good olive oil 

and you have salad fit for a king. I use it as a base for pesto pasta 

salad and dozens of other mixes. To die for. It's a basic fresh relish 

I learned about years ago on a trip to Europe. I never buy the bottled 


Then of course there is the classic sour cream, thin sliced onions and 

cukes. Oil and vinegar is also an option if you're a vegan. Again 

the secret is salting the cukes and onions and letting them sit before 


Cook Those Cukes

Cucumbers can be sautéed in butter or olive oil for a few minutes with some herbs. Cucumber soup is usually a very simple dish. Combine chicken stock with braised onions and cucumbers, (garlic is optional) and a fair amount of dill. Mixed with cream, this makes a delicious cool soup in the middle of August. Add some sliced cucumbers to a stir-fry in the last minute or so for a nice texture and flavor addition.

Herbs and Other Ideas

Dill is perhaps most commonly used with cucumbers, but mint, basil, rosemary, tarragon, cilantro, and thyme are also good herbs to use with cucumbers. Try cukes chopped and mixed with yogurt and topped with dill. For a classic cucumber salad, mix sliced cucumbers with sour cream, chopped onions, dill, a bit of sugar, and a few tablespoons of vinegar. (For a new taste treat, use balsamic vinegar instead of the plain white stuff.) Put a couple of slices of fresh cucumber in a glass of ice water for a refreshing drink.

Making Pickles

There are hundreds if not thousands of pickle recipes for cucumbers. Here we recommend buying a book about pickling, acquiring at least some basic equipment, and giving it a try. Pickles do not have to be canned. It’s easy to make great pickles in a bowl and just keep them in your refrigerator for a few days or weeks. Give them a try. Pickles are a great summer kitchen project to do with kids too.

see all questions...

Do you have a gardening question? Ask Nancy