If you’re a home gardener, we hope you have had a successful season. You are probably winding things down in the garden now, unless you are just gearing up again for a fall crop. Many people had bumper crops this year, with things like tomatoes, berries and cucumbers. If you’re trying to find ways to use up your cucumbers, this post is for you! It features three ways to use your overflowing abundance of cukes, such as making refrigerator pickles.
Each suggestion requires minimal labor or time investment. If you are not a big cucumber fan, trying some of these ideas might change your mind. And, your health will surely thank you for it.
Homegrown cucumbers make delicious refrigerator pickles
Cucumbers are super duper good for your health. If that surprises you, take a look at this post from our archives, and you’ll learn why. One of the most popular ways to use garden cukes is to turn them into pickles. If you have lots of time and don’t mind some heavy duty kitchen labor, you might enjoy canning pickles. On the other hand, if you prefer quick and easy recipes, then refrigerator pickles might be more your speed. Here’s a tried and true recipe that my family loves:
- Clean mason jars with sterile lids and rings
- Fresh garlic
- Coarse salt
- A piece of fresh mint (optional)
- Crushed red pepper flakes (if you want spicy refrigerator pickles )
- White vinegar
- Pot for stove top
You can choose the size of your canning jars. For instance, if you live alone, you might want to make smaller batches of refrigerator pickles. If you feeding a large family, then quart jars will work better for you.
- Make a brine by heating equal parts of vinegar and water on the stove
- In bottom of each jar, place a pinch of coarse salt, tiny piece of mint (if you want ) and a clove of garlic, smashed with a butter knife
- If you want spicy refrigerator pickles, add a pinch of red pepper flakes now
- Slice cukes to your liking (spears or circles or leave whole) and pack jars full
- Pour the brine you made into each jar, leaving about inch space at the top
- Apply lids and give the jars a twirl or two to dissolve the salt
- Place in fridge and let sit several days before tasting
That’s how easy it is to make refrigerator pickles! You can add salt directly to the brine. The reason I do not do this is because I don’t always use all the brine if I make a lot and I feel like some of the salt gets lost that way. Also, you can make sweet and sour pickles by adding diced onions and some sugar and celery seeds. Refrigerator pickles keep a long time, as long as you keep the lids and tops of the jars clean each time you put them back into the fridge.
Use cukes to add crunch to chicken pita pockets
Another way to use up your garden pickles is to cut them into bite sized chunks and add to chicken pita pockets. This is another simple recipe that really comes in handy when you want a tasty supper but are limited on time. The cucumbers give this meal a refreshing and delightful crunch and certainly add to its nutritional value. Here’s the recipe:
- Chicken, cubed and cooked in a little bit of oil of your choice, seasoned with Seasoning Salt as you stir
- Pita pockets
- Shredded cheddar
- Sliced cherry tomatoes
- Diced red onions
- Caesar dressing
How easy can a yummy supper be? You can prep this ahead of time to enjoy after fall ball or whatever other school activities your kids are doing nowadays. It is perfect for days when you work late but still want something of substance to eat when you get home. If you prefer not to have the pita pocket, you can serve this same meal over leafy lettuce, as a salad.
Boost your lemon water with cucumbers
A while back, here on the Hot Mess Press, we offered suggestions for flavoring your water. Adding cucumbers to your lemon water not only boosts flavor, it packs a powerful nutrient punch, as well. This is another easy thing to prep ahead of time. When you have a few minutes, clean and slice your cukes into circles and keep them in a glass jar in your refrigerator. Simply add a few slices to your lemon water, at least once per day for full effect.
Tell us your favorite ways to use homegrown cucumbers
The health benefits of cucumbers are many. They come in a variety of types and are fairly easy to grow. If you are just now considering growing some of your own food next spring, cucumbers would be a great way to start. For gardeners who include cukes as an annual staple in their gardens, let us know some of your favorite ways to use them!
And, while we’re at it, you don’t have to restrict yourself to refrigerator pickles. You can make a brine for just about any fresh vegetable, such as green beans, beets or other favorites of yours!