[July 30] At the market, grabbing a cucumber or two doesn’t look like much. Then slice a couple up realizing really quickly how many cuke discs keep materializing. In hindsight, you realize you probably only needed one. Now try to find a home for hundreds of cukes. Entire crates of cukes stacked from floor to ceiling.

That’s the predicament at Wellspring lately as the cukes have taken over. We’ve had a bounty of excellent slicers: the Marketmore 76 classic. It’s become nearly a daily ritual to carry pail after pail of them from the hoophouse and North Field back to the harvest shed. We’ve been able to hand out four or five in recent shares and still have a plethora remaining.

One solution which presented itself was to donate the surplus to the local food pantry. Full Shelf Food Pantry (231 Municipal Dr, West Bend) has served those in need since the early 1980′s by collecting and distributing all sorts of food items, including perishable goods. Full Shelf is staffed entirely by volunteers, two of whom drove the company van to Wellspring to pick up boxes of cucumbers.

How else to use oodles of Cucumis sativus? Toss them into any salad (duh), throw several slices into your glass of water as a pleasant alternative to lemon (got this from Roots), dice them and mix with yogurt and Indian spices to make a cool dipping sauce (see recipe #1 below), or marinade thin slices in flavored vinegar with onion and sesame oil (see recipe #2 below). Cucumber soup is another classic use.

Other than that, there isn’t much can be done with these overachieving producers. Right? Not so. I stumbled across this wonderful treatment of cucumbers and can’t wait to give it a shot myself. But now to the recipes:

Cuke Recipe #1: Radish Raita (Yogurt Sauce)
Based on guidelines from Nupur of One Hot Stove

  • Bunch of red radishes
  • One medium cucumber
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro or mint
  • Red wine vinegar

Optional Seasoning:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1-2 green chiles, chopped

Clean and chop or grate radishes and cucumbers. If grated, squeeze the flesh in hand to extract the water content (if not done, the Raita will be very watery and runny). Whip yogurt with salt and add slight amount of milk if too thick or add tiny pinch of sugar if too sour. Combine yogurt with veggies, herbs, and a splash of red wine vinegar and mix.

Optionally, heat oil in a saucepan. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add green chiles and take the pan off the heat. Let the pan cool down (this is VERY necessary as otherwise the hot oil can ruin the taste making the yogurt bitter) and combine with yogurt mix.

The cooling effect of Raita complements spicy fare quite nicely.

Worker Share Adrian recommended the cucumber salad recipe mentioned earlier:

Cuke Recipe #2: Japanese Cucumber Salad

  • Two medium to large cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup of rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil (or sesame seeds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of minced ginger
  • 1 medium hot to hot pepper

Slice the cucumbers as thin as possible and mix together all the ingredients. Once mixed, let marinate 30 minutes to an hour (or more if you’d like).

This morning I spent my time harvesting the cucumbers and readying garlic for shares and market. I also wheel hoed in Section Three of the North Field during our weeding time. Group lunch was a large affair today, and I had help from the teen volunteer group who had been at the farm the entire week. They baked a zucchini chocolate cake and made ratatouille and roasted potatoes, while I made the Japanese salad and some basil pesto, brown rice, and quinoa sides.

It was a good lunch and a relaxing end to another week.