Cucumber tart & five other ways to use up all those garden cucumbers

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One thing that seems to grow really well in our garden is cucumbers. We also tend to plant more than we can possibly eat. For a while we’re able to keep up, giving some to friends, but then a glut of cucumbers arrives, middle to late summer, and I have to get creative. If this happens to you, these simple ideas will help you put a major dent in that mountain of cucumbers, piling up in the corner of your kitchen.

1. Creamy Cucumber Soup

This cold soup is great on a summer afternoon, and much easier to make than gazpacho. It’s also one of my top two fastest ways to use up cucumbers. I usually make this with a magic bullet blender and then store in a pitcher in the fridge.

Ingredients: 4 to 5 big cucumbers, 2-3 cloves garlic, jalapeno or other green hot pepper, 1 cup plain yogurt, lime juice, salt & pepper.

Peel and seed the cucumbers and cut into chunks and also remove the seeds from the hot pepper. Then with a magic bullet or food processor blend all ingredients until smooth. I like to serve this with pumpkin seeds.

2. Spicy Cucumber Noodles

Another great lunch item. For this, you’ll need a vegetable spiralizer. I think it’s worth having. Ours was made by Envihome. It’s a simple design and small. We use ours all the time.

Ingredients: 2 cucumbers, 1 tbsp each of grated ginger, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sriracha sauce, and sesame oil.

A big bonus here is that the whole cucumber can be spiralized into noodles. I hate to discard anything. Making this is rather straight forward, but if you need further instructions, Joell tells me that she got the recipe from

3. Pickles

Unfortunately, my pickled cucumbers are hit and miss. I do far better with peppers. That said, pickling is one of the best ways to ensure that no cucumbers go to waste. The term pickling can refer to a process of fermentation or of acidification. I think fermented pickles taste better. They’re also probiotic, meaning they can help improve or restore the gut microbiome, which is incredibly important to your health.

Fermented pickles aren’t shelf stable, unless you can them, but the canning process of course kills all those good microbes. You’re also very likely to wind up with mushy pickles. But, fermented pickles keep just fine in the fridge. It’s actually very easy to ferment cucumbers. They’re simply submerged in a brine solution and the naturally occurring microbes on the cucumbers surface do all the work. As they ferment, CO2 is released. Pictured above are containers fitted with silicon gaskets which allow this gas to escape, while keeping oxygen out (the microbes doing the work are anaerobic). The red crock uses a water barrier for this same purpose.

Few more pickling tips

Adding a few grape leaves to the batch will introduce tannin and help keep pickles crunchy.

Spices aren’t just for flavor. They also deter less desirable microbes. I use peppercorns, mustard, dill, and fennel seeds.

4. Grilled Cucumbers

This is really easy. I simple cut the cucumber lengthwise, brush with olive oil and sprinkle on seasoning, then char the flat side. You’ll want to get the grill as hot as possible (mine maxes out around 600° Fahrenheit). After about 5 minutes flip the cucumber and continue to grill until it starts to bubble. I usually season with salt, black pepper, ancho pepper, and smoked paprika. I use the same method to cook eggplant.

5. Cucumber Enchiladas

You’re getting the idea, right? You can pretty much cook cucumbers any way you would cook zucchini. However, they contain a lot more water, so to make a good enchilada filling, something must be done with this added liquid. I like to use textured soy to absorb the excess liquid. It also adds to the texture.

To make cucumber enchilada filling, first saute chopped garlic, yellow onions, chili peppers, and celery with a little olive oil, in a big pot. Just a few minutes will do, no need to brown them, since they will get cooked again in the enchiladas. Add diced cucumbers, pepper, salt, ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, fennel and celery seeds, cinnamon, and textured soy. Cover and leave on medium to low heat for about 10 minutes. This will give the textures soy a chance to draw in liquid. This filling also goes great in burritos and tacos.

6. Cucumber Tart

Or is it a shallow single crusted pie? I’m not so sure now. Irrespective of nomenclature, this tastes fantastic and deserves to be inducted into the pie pantheon. Like my cucumber soup, this will rid your kitchen of cucumbers fast!

Ingredients: 4-5 cucumbers, 8 oz cream cheese, 14 oz sweetened condensed milk, 1-2 limes, potato or corn starch

Peel, seed and cut the cucumbers into chunks. Zest and juice the lime and combine with the cucumber and process into a frothy puree in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a mixer and combine with the sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese and whisk until firm. This is where my imprecise measurements becomes an issue. Ice box pies (such as this) rely on the whisked cream cheese and condensed milk as a thickening agent. Too much of your flavoring ingredient, and the pie won’t fully thicken. But cucumbers have a subtle taste and well, one of the primary goals of this is to use up a lot of cucumbers. The starch comes in handy here, to compensate for all the extra liquid from the cucumbers. If you’re mixture isn’t thickening enough, gradually add in the starch. Once thickened, fill you preferred pie (or tart shell) and pop it in the fridge.

What Else?

How about cucumber bread? It’s fantastic, but like zucchini bread, it doesn’t really solve your problem. The recipes I’ve seen call for only one or two cups of shredded cucumber. That’s not much. One recipe called for just as much chopped pecans as cucumber. It’s still worth trying. Especially if you like measuring ingredients.

I’ve also thought about making cucumber jam or ice cream. Cucumbers have a high pectin content (15% of the cellular wall according to at least one USDA study), a key element in the chemical reaction that causes jam to thicken. This would however require the cucumbers to be cooked (on high heat), so I’m not sure their flavor would hold up. Ice cream however would be excellent. I would puree the cucumbers (just like I did for the pie) and blend it in smooth with the cream and sugar. That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.