Compulsory Cucumber

2013-07-21 12.53.00The parable of the cucumbers continues.  My ministrations have not been wanting, it seems, as the plants have continued to flourish – the exceptional warm and sunny weather and watering twice a day may have had something to do with it.

Three of the six plants are producing fruit at an incredible rate.  Each day I examine them closely, lifting leaves and those new shoots and runners that are as yet  untethered to check for hidden cucumbers, I watch the developing crop, deciding when each is at the prime moment for harvest, and yet still at least once a week I find one orphan, one greedy offspring that has been hiding in a corner growing relentlessly to be fatter and broader than all its siblings.

The other three plants have not fared so well.  Yes they were green and flourishing, laden with flowers and baby cucumbers, but all the ones we picked were bitter.  We gave them repeated chances; maybe the next one would be sweet; maybe the bitter ones were coming off only one of the plants; maybe they’d taste all right if we peeled them.  But to no avail.  So we cut them down and dug them up.

Even then, with half the number of plants we started with, we are in that phase of the summer where the produce is so prolific that it has become an equally onerous task to consume it as to grow it.  Any visitor receives a couple to take away with them, glasses of Pimms with cucumber and mint has become the drink of choice in the early evening, and every meal has to contain a cucumber element.

We’ve read all the cookery books for ideas; basically it boils down(!) to pickling, soup or salad combinations.  Pickling’s out for the moment as we still have quite a bit of the 2012 vintage left, so it’s salads and soups, and for this particular lunch, soup with a side order of cucumber.

I can recommend the soup, a ‘vintage’ Katie Stewart.  (You can tell its age both from the well used state of the cookery book, but also her suggestion to add green food colour if you’re dissatisfied with the pale colour of the soup au naturel.)  It’s cucumber, yoghurt, walnuts, lemon juice, garlic and a little oil all whizzed up together, chilled and served with a mint garnish in bowls cooled in the fridge.

When the tomatoes start to ripen, we’ll be adding daily gazpacho to the menu, but in the meantime…… cucumber anyone?

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