Cool as a Cucumber
I just love summer in the garden and ours is covered so I can happily potter away for hours without feeling the burning rays of the sun. In the garden, summer looks like a time of plenty with zucchinis, tomatoes, beans, lettuces, basil, beetroot and cucumbers growing like crazy – hard to keep up with all the fecundity.
They are an easy plant to grow though have a trailing habit and so will need a little support to help keep the cucumbers off the ground and growing nice and straight – well most of the time. I start my cucumbers off in late spring in a little pots of seedling mix and once the second leaves are showing move them to their garden spot. I will already have the stakes in place and then begin to build the trellis as the cucumbers grow. I simply use sticks from the bush and tie them on and together with strips of fabric (often old yoga pants). Any configuration will do let your creativity run wild.
What to do with all your little beauties?
As summer is a time of heat and cooling the body is certainly a priority for many and the cool cucumber does a brilliant job. Cucumbers have many healing properties such as clears heat from the body alleviating fevers and summer heatstroke, clears the body of toxins and cleansing the blood, aids digestion especially in pickle form, benefits the kidneys and bladder.
Cucumbers are clearly a very valuable vegetable and can easily be added to your diet. They can be used in salads and are often stir fired in Asia with a little garlic and ginger – delicious. Juicing cucumbers with a little celery, carrot and ginger is an easy way to cool down fast. And when I have lots of fresh organic cucumbers i just juice them straight – yummy! One of my favourite ways of eating cucumber is a chinese style pickled cucumber salad – a cool and refreshing way to enjoy your summer glut of cucumbers.
Sichuan Pickled Cucumber
- 200g of cucumber
- 1/2tspn of salt
- 30g of ginger finely shredded
- 1/2 small red chilli – more if you like. De seeded and finely shredded
- 3 tbl of roasted sesame oil
- 1/2 tspn of sichuan peppers
- 6 dried chillies (optional – more for flavour rather than heat)
- 1 1/2 tbl of clear rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbl of sugar
- Cut the cucumbers in half lengthways remove the seeds and cut into 6cm x 2cm wide strips.
- Place in a bowl and add salt. toss and leave fro around 30 minutes.
- Soak the ginger in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes.
- Pour of any water from the cucumbers and rinse the cucumbers lightly. Pat dry with a clean tea towel.
- Place in a bowl with the drained ginger.
- Heat the wok over a high heat, add the sesame oil and roast the sichuan peppercorns for around 15 seconds or until fragrant. Add the dried chilies if using. Pour into a bowl with the cucumber.
- Add the vinegar and sugar, toss and coat. Leave in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve cool or at room temperature.
Enjoy! And stay cool,