As I was leaving a friend’s house, she let me know that I was welcome to grab a bag of Gympie Gold cucumbers that were sitting on the table. I grabbed a bag and off I went. When I got home and popped the cucumbers in a bowl, I realised there were a lot there and they were huge!
Originally, I had the idea that I would pickle these cucumbers. But while I was flicking through one of my favourite cook books, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest the Wilted Cucumber salad recipe caught my eye.
This recipe is simple. And I love the note before it ‘Make this one day ahead, so the cucumbers can soften and absorb their dressing. Wilted doesn’t mean tired in the case, it means relaxed.’
Here is the original recipe for Wilted Cucumbers
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 4 teaspoons of honey
- 4 medium cucumbers (6 – 7 inch)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- fresh black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of dill
- 1/2 cup of very thinly sliced red onion
- Heat the vinegar in a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat. Dissolve the honey in the vinegar and leave to cool.
- Slice the cucumbers thinly and place in a bowl. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and dill over the cucumbers, mix. Add the onions and mix.
- Pour the warm vinegar and honey over the cucumbers. Pop into a jar and refrigerate.
Notes: When I made this, I only had small dill seedlings in the garden. I didn’t want to chop away at them so I used a dried dill and onion spice mix that I had in the pantry.
I took my jar of cucumbers to a BBQ. Everyone loved them. There was a few left over in the bottom of the jar for me to take home. They lasted in my fridge for a week.
These had a pickle type flavour with a sweetness that came from the honey. I ended up eating the rest of them alongside beef curry and rice – yum.
The other way I decided to use these cucumbers was to ferment them. I have been making sauerkraut and kimchi for a while. I enjoy the flavour that my home ferments have. So I thought why not try with the cucumbers. I got some guidance from a Sour Pickles recipe.
I didn’t have the dill or horseradish leaf as mentioned in the Sour Pickles recipe. But I did have pickling spice, garlic and salt.
I prepared my cucumbers by peeling them, chopping them in half length ways and scooping out the seeds. I have found when cucumbers become quite large that their skin and seeds can be tough. So off with the skins and out with their seeds. I then sliced them.
In a large jar, I layered the cucumber, salt and pickling spice. I just layered to almost the top of the jar.
To a litre of water I added 2 tablespoons of salt. (see mistakes below) I topped the cucumbers and spices with this salty water. To keep the cucumbers submerged, I stuffed a cabbage leaf into the top of the jar. With any ferment, keeping the veggies submerged under the liquid you are using is important. Oxygen in your veggies while they ferment will allow the bad bacteria to grow…you don’t want this to happen.
This jar sat on my bench for six days to ferment before I popped it in the fridge.
Now, I wasn’t sure how this one would turn out. It turns out it could have been better. Lots better! But I have learnt from my mistakes.
Mistake 1 – Sliced the cucumbers way too thin. They became super salty and mushy. Next time, I will quarter them so they are larger. I will also leave the skin on as in the Sour Pickles recipe. (I noticed the cabbage held up well and was crunchy!)
Mistake 2 – Too much salt. Using salt while I was layering probably meant I should have reduced the salt that I used in the brine. I definitely will reduce by a tablespoon next time.
So although this jar didn’t work out, it won’t stop me from making another jar of fermented cucumbers. And all was not lost, I will be using the garlic cloves out of this one!
YAY for friends and their cucumber gifts. What have been some of your favourite gifted foodie items? How about your favourite cucumber recipes? We would love to hear your experiences…please share in the comments below.