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Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer.  In Miami that means high temperatures and humidity.  One of the most refreshing foods I enjoy in the summer is melons. Did you know that cucumbers are a type of melon?  Yes, a cucumber is technically a fruit!  We consider it a vegetable because it is not a sweet melon like its popular cousins honeydew, watermelon or cantaloupe. It is low in calories and high in fiber.

Best way to store cucumbers:

Whole:

  1. Wrap each cucumber individually in paper towels. The towels absorb excess moisture (cucumbers have a super high water content), which keeps the bag from getting prematurely slimy and speeding along the rotting process
  1. Place them in a zip-top bag and seal tightly
  2. Store up to one week in the fridge

Cucumber pieces:

  1. Wrap the cut pieces in paper towels
  2. Place them in a zip-top bag or other sealed container
  3. Store up to two days in the fridge

Freeze cucumbers:

  1. Freeze cut pieces in ice cube trays or in a single layer on a cookie sheet
  2. Once frozen, store the frozen cucumber in a zip-top bag or other airtight container for up to six months

Side dishes

Salad: I am sure you have made a cucumber salad or two: wash them, remove the skin or not, cut them up in pieces and toss them with any other vegetable and/or fruit you have available.   Season to taste with salt, olive oil, vinegar or citrus juice.  Add your favorite herb (cilantro, basil, Thai-basil, mint, thyme, etc.) and your salad can stand up to that of any restaurant's.

Pickle: You can make a quick pickle with soy sauce and lime: cut a cucumber in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, then finely slice into half-moons and place into a small bowl. Drizzle with a tablespoon of soy sauce and squeeze over the juice from a lime, scrunch and toss together, then leave to pickle for at least 30 Mins.

How an Indonesian pickle variation: atjar ketimun

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1/3 cup of vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 hot pepper (optional)

 

  1. Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt in a pan and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  2. Remove from the heat and let it cool
  3. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, slice into long thin strips.
  4. Cut the onion in small pieces
  5. Depending on your tolerance for heat, and the pepper you are using, remove the seeds and membranes and cut it in small pieces
  6. Stir the cucumber, onion and pepper in the cooled vinegar mixture
  7. You can keep this in a jar in the fridge for 1-2 weeks

* It goes well with pork or a rich meat.

Beverages:

Agua Fresca:  the name means fresh water in Spanish and boy does it live up to its name.  Especially, on a hot summer day.  It's like the cucumber water served at a spa but, better!

  • 1 cucumber
  • the juice of two lemons or limes or 1/2 cup of any citrus
  • a hand full of mint leaves or leaves of your favorite herb
  • 3-4 cups of water or more depending
  1. Blend until smooth
  2. Serve over crushed ice as is to get all the benefits of the fiber.

* You may also choose to strain the juice to remove some of the "pulp".  Notice that I did not add sugar to the blender.  I omitted the sugar since this is a spa inspired drink.  I suggest adding just enough sugar to slightly sweeten it and reducing the sugar you add every time you make it.

 

Pineapple cucumber spritz

Ingredient

  • 2 cucumbers cut in small cubes
  • 1 cup packed mint leaves
  • 2-3 cups pineapple juice
  1. Put all the ingredients in your blender or food processor and process until smooth
  2. Put this through a fine mesh or sieve
  3. Refrigerate until cold
  4. Add to a tall glass with ice and filled halfway with seltzer

 

Cucumber lemonade

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 quart homemade or store-bought lemonade
  1. Puree the cucumbers with 1/2 cup lemonade in a blender or food processor
  2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve
  3. Combine cucumber juice and lemonade
  4. Serve over ice.

*The juice can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to three days

 

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