Cucumber and Chamomile Salad

August 13, 2009 at 4:37 pm 17 comments

cukes and chamomile

Cons
Sticky.  Hot.  Car seats that scorch the back of your legs when you get in.  Sudden storms.  Constant state of feeling wilted.  Favorite flip flops starting to break after months of constant wear.  Mosquito bites from working in the garden at dusk to avoid the blazing heat of the day.  Awkward tan lines.

Cucumber and Chamomile Salad

Pros
Fresh peaches.  Corn on the cob.   Blissful cold showers and a box fan.  Abundance of delicate blooms in the garden.   Farmers markets bursting at the seams.  Anticipating autumn.   Messy ponytails are okay.  Cold pitchers of ice tea.  Long weekends.  Laundry on the line.  Dewy mornings.  Long twilights.  Watermelon and cantaloupe.  Cucumbers.  

chamomile

As you can see, the season of summer, particularly humid dank August in southeastern PA, about balances itself out in my experience.  I’m not a lover of summer like some folks, mostly because I detest even the slightest hint of clammy air.  But there’s no denying the bounty of this time of year.  Somehow I manage to enjoy it in the end for knowing that hot summer days are fleeting and yet constant in the grand scheme of things, lasting only a few months but always returning each year.   As do those awkward tan lines.  How does that keep happening?!?

Cucumber and Chamomile Salad

Cucumbers have been a large part of my summer plate since I can remember.  The garden I tended with my mom was constantly full of these vigorous vines (as it still is today).   We grew both for fresh eating out of hand and for making dill and sweet pickles.  I wasn’t much of a fan of the pickles, but I could eat a big old stack of fresh cucumbers with rather alarming swiftness.   Now I grow cucumbers on my deck in big five gallon black pots with bamboo teepees for the vines to climb.   Along with watermelon, no garden harvest holds quite such nostalgia and the essence of summer for me. 

Floral Forks

This Cucumber and Chamomile Salad is simple and yet unexpected with its sweetly floral hints.  Exceedingly refreshing, I like just a bit as a starter or a snack when I’m putting together a larger summer supper.  Chamomile has a wonderful apple flavor, but if it’s not your cup of tea (ha! get it?), lavender or anise hyssop would also stand in nicely in this dish.  If you’re not growing chamomile yourself, you can indeed rip open a bag of regular old chamomile tea and use that in place. 

 

What are some of the foods that remind you most of summer and why?  

Lets Eat

 

Cucumber and Chamomile Salad
A Straight from the Farm original

4 or 5 large cucumbers
2 T. fresh chamomile flowers
1 t. chopped fresh honeydew melon sage*
2 T. distilled white wine vinegar
2 T. rose water
1 t. honey
salt and white pepper to taste

*This is an unusual herb that’s hard to find.  You can skip it or substitute a leaf or two of fresh mint for it instead. 

Wash and peel cucumbers.   Cut into small evenly sized pieces.  Place in a large mixing bowl.  Crumble chamomile flowers between your fingers to break up the large buds (if they are tiny, you can leave them whole) and add to the cucumbers, along with the sage (or mint).  Toss to combine.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, rose water, honey, and a dash of salt and pepper.   Whisk until honey is dissolved.  Pour over cucumbers and toss well.  Taste and add more salt, pepper or vinegar as desired.  Toss again and cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.   Be sure to toss again just before eating.

(serves 6-8 )

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17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Leyla  |  August 14, 2009 at 6:07 am

    Watermelon, juicy & cold!!!
    And, living in Southern Italy, almond or lemon granita.

    Reply
    • 2. Jennie  |  August 14, 2009 at 8:59 pm

      Ahmen, Leyla! You are my kind of summer foodie! :)

      Reply
  • 3. Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener  |  August 14, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Honey Dew Melon Sage???? That’s very intriguing… does it go by another name? is it actually a salvia? I am always interested in new-to-me herbs, so would appreciate any additional info.

    Yeah for the idea of using fresh chamomile blossoms in salads. I don’t always pick the blossom to dry, so they reseed (which is OK), but adding them to the list of salad flowers is very very neat! Thanks

    Reply
    • 4. Jennie  |  August 14, 2009 at 9:20 pm

      Hey Sylvia – It is indeed a Salvia elegans, but a cultivar that has the scent of melons to its leaves. The tag on my plant when I bought it said Honeydew Melon Sage, but I’ve also seen it listed in references as Honey Melon Sage. It’s really tough to find. I hunted for mine (both seeds or a plant) for a year and a half before I found it at a tiny specialty greenhouse. If mine gets around to flowering (was rather scrawny when I bought it in June and I’ve been pinching off stems for tea and seasoning) and sets seed, I’ll make sure to mention it here on the blog and maybe make a give-away of the seeds. :)

      Glad you like the salad too!!

      Reply
  • 5. k  |  August 14, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Okay – that is it! I am going to have to ‘single white female’ your garden! Honey Dew Melon Sage?!?! Now that I am searching for that – I see there is Pinapple Sage too. What other wonders are out there in PA?! ;)

    Reply
    • 6. Jennie  |  August 14, 2009 at 9:22 pm

      Oh, K, there are many wonders in the herb world, though not exculsively in PA. :) Like I told Sylvia above, if mine sets seeds, I’ll be sure to spread the love.

      p.s. – you’re always welcome in my garden! :)

      Reply
  • 7. George Davis  |  August 14, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Jenn,
    I had a highlight to my gardening this week, had an interview in the paper about my cold frames. If you are interested, please see the link:

    http://delawaregardener.delawareonline.com/article/20090813/LIFE0402/908130312

    George Davis
    Wilmington, DE
    Bellevue State Park Community Gardens

    Reply
    • 8. Jennie  |  August 14, 2009 at 9:23 pm

      Congrats, George! Thanks for sharing the article. I’m going to click on it now to give it a read! :)

      Reply
  • 9. Jason  |  August 24, 2009 at 8:43 am

    I have one more question about chamomile.

    Do you ever notice these tiny, little squirmy, not-quite-worm-not-quite-bug things on your chamomile blossoms? Have you found a good way of getting rid of them?

    This summer was my first time growing chamomile, so I was surprised that EVERY TIME I harvested a bunch, I had to spend about five minutes rolling and shaking the blossoms to shake out these little critters because the thought of seeing them (later) rising to the top of my cup of tea was — to put it mildly — unsettling.

    I’ve noticed this with other edible flowers that I grow, too, (especially chrysanthemums) but I can’t really find much definitive information on them much less how to make sure I don’t eat any of them.

    Reply
    • 10. Jennie  |  August 30, 2009 at 9:43 am

      Hey Jason! Hmmm, so I’ve been trying to figure out what this little critter is that’s pestering your edible flowers. I don’t have anything that gets on mine, save for the occasional baby bee that’s not willing to scram. I can only imagine how unnerving a floating wormy thing in your chamomile tea would be. I have that problem any more with eating broccoli as I always seem to have a few cabbage moth caterpillars that managed to get on it even with the row covers protecting my plants. Anyway…as to your problem, I can’t seem to figure it out based on my own experience so I was wondering if you could send me a picture or link to one so I can ask the bug expert that I work with for his thoughts. straightfromthefarm (at) gmail (dot) com. :)

      Reply
      • 11. Jason  |  September 1, 2009 at 7:37 am

        I will try to get a picture of a couple of them, today, when I pick a few chrysanthemums. The bugs/worms are very very small, so a photo might be hard — even on a micro setting.

        But, to give you some preliminary clues, I think there may be one that I see in the first picture of chamomile in THIS POST (on the edge of the left petal). They’re about that color and exactly that size, so they blend in really well with chamomile and chrysanthemums. They’re so small that it’s hard to really notice any physical attributes about them (i.e. whether they have legs or they just wiggle around).

        I’ll try to get you a picture of some of them. Thanks!

        Reply
        • 12. Jennie  |  September 1, 2009 at 3:10 pm

          Oh-ho-ho, now I know what you are talking about! I didn’t really think that tiny when you first described it. That, my friend, is called a “flower thrip”. They are pollen munchers and they love any flower with a big stash of pollen like chamomile and chrysanthemums. Unfortunately they are very very tough to get rid of, even with harsh chemicals which you would never want to put on a tea herb anyway. My advice, in this case, though it’s rather gross is to ignore them or hope a thorough swish in a bowl of cold water will dislodge them. Before you cring and give up chamomlie, you can also try drying your blossoms (which is actually how I use them myself) and the thrips will go away because they are only interested in fresh live plant material. I hang stems to air dry in a cool dark closet for about 2 weeks and then snip the flowers off and store them in an air-tight container until I’m in the mood for a cup of tea. :)

  • 13. Barbara  |  November 2, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    I’ve had worms and flying bugs in chamomile that I’ve dried. I cut the stems and lightly hosed them off then hung them inside in a cool, dark, dry room to dry. I then snipped and stored the flowers in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. For a few months, I used them often to make chamomile tea. About a month had passed since I’d last made tea and when i went to open the jar, I saw there were small (a quarter of an inch long and a 64th of an inch diameter, striped, almost transparent worms moving around inside. Another time last year I had flying brown bugs inside. What am I doing wrong? It’s put me off drying chamomile even though what came from my garden was the best I’d ever had. Thanks.

    Reply
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  • 17. mamahawg  |  May 22, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Eeeek! I just went to harvest my little blossoms, and found the same teeny tiny little critters that you have talked about! When you say you hang the stems up to dry, how long a stem are we talking about? Does the chamomile plant then branch out at the cut? Thanks much

    Reply

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