I had a sad moment this weekend when I surveyed my garden and realized it was time for the cucumber vines to be ripped out. They’d just maxed themselves out over the last three months, and they didn’t have any proverbial gas left in the tank to do their cucumber making thing. So, I wrestled them off the tomato vines they’d got entangled with and tossed them in the compost heap…but not before I searched each vine for any last little lemon cucumbers.
It’s funny how many cucumbers a person misses when they’re harvesting. Those little (or big) buggers like to hide under the leaves and blend in with their surroundings, evading plucking yet another time. Does this happen to anyone else or am I just really bad at picking cucumbers? Well, in any case, I discovered some mammoth lemon cucumbers once I had the vines held up by the toes, turning them every direction to see what was on them.
Some were the size of softballs and must have been on there all season! Of course, once cucumbers – lemon and regular slicing varieties alike – get too big, they’re really no good for eating. I hate to give away trade secrets, but I also like to inform my readers so here’s a bit of farmers market wisdom for you: If a farmer’s got a great deal on giant cucumbers, don’t be suckered in. Even if a cucumber the size of a child’s baseball bat can be all yours for the very small price of a one humble dollar, it’s not even worth that. But you’re all such savvy seasonal eaters, you probably already knew that.
But let’s get back to today’s recipe for Sour Cucumbers with Fresh Dill. After I’d pitched the softball sized lemon cucumbers (ha, get it?) into the compost heap along with the spent vines, I had a grand sum of five reasonably sized cucumbers left to use in a final cucumber recipe for the season. I wanted them to be showcased, not smothered, in a simple dish so I could savor the last homegrown cucumbers I’ll have for many months.
I’ve made this cucumber-turned-nearly-pickle preparation many times in the past, but just recently realized I’d never shared it with you fine folks. Really, nothing could be simpler for a summer side dish, and the cucumber slices get even better after a few days in the fridge. As such, I plan on eating just a few bites at a time next to my lunchtime sandwich so I can make the final cucumber harvest last as long as possible.
Sour Cucumber with Fresh Dill
Taken from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Four Ingredient Cooking
5-6 lemon or 2 small regular cucumbers
½ large onion
4-5 T. white wine or apple cider vinegar
2-3 T. chopped fresh dill
Using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice the cucumbers and onion as thinly as possible. In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber and onion slices and toss with a generous pinch of salt. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes to release water.
Add the vinegar and chopped dill and toss so everything is thoroughly combined. Chill the cucumber mixture in a sealed container for at least a few hours or until ready to serve.