I so enjoy talking to Matt Swaim on the Sonrise Morning Show, Sacred Heart Radio. Today we revisited a popular Bible veggie: cucumber. And I’m sharing a couple of recipes you may have seen before, but are worth sharing again.
Numbers 11: 5-6
When the people wept “Oh that we had some of the delicious fish we enjoyed in Egypt – cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic…”
How did the people of Bible times eat them?
It was one of the most favored of all foods. It was actually so valuable that watchtowers were built in the fields to protect the crops against thievesI am sure they ate most of them fresh and they also preserved them by pickling with vinegar using that popular Bible herb dill. They also ate them with barley cakes and that made a complete meal.
Cucumbers have a definite taste and a crunch to them. Are they as good nutritionally as they taste?
Cucumbers contain mostly water, so a good way to hydrate is by incorporating cucumbers in your meal planning. They have anti-inflammatory qualities, and a good amount of vitamin C. The skins and seeds are even more nutritionally beneficial than the flesh! They’re also a good source of fiber which as you know helps our digestive system work properly.
Why cut the ends of the cucumbers off and rub them onto the cucumber.
My mom taught me this. She said it took the bitterness out. Now I’ve always done that because she told me to! But I never understood it, food science wise. Turns out there’s a reason to rub the cut ends with the stump you cut off: if there is acid in the cucumber, you’ll see foam as you rub; if not there will be no foam. Anyway, Mom called it bitterness and professional chefs call it acid!
One of my readers sent this in to me several years ago. Her Dad made big batches of these in the laundry tub, so I named them “Washtub Pickles”. These are easy enough for a child to make.
3 quarts thinly sliced cucumbers
2 cups thinly sliced or chopped bell peppers – can be green, red, yellow, whatever
2 cups thinly sliced onions
2 cups chopped or thinly sliced carrots – can use already grated carrots
2 tablespoons celery seed
3 cups sugar
1/3 cup salt
2 cups white vinegar
Pour brine over veggies. Let sit several hours on counter, stirring every once in a while. Store in frig.
MARY RUDLOFF’S SOLAR DILLS (SUN PICKLES)
No need to be chained to the stove canning pickles. The sun does all the work! In about 3-4 days, you’ll have pickles!
Mary Rudloff is now in heaven making her famous dills. This is an old German recipe. Her daughter, Ann and I have been friends since first grade at St. Margaret of Cortona in Madisonville. Now you will have to go to taste on the pickling solution. A little less salt, little more vinegar, water, etc. won’t hurt it. But the pickling solution should be pretty tangy to make a good pickle.
Here’s my adaptation. Now these pickles taste like the old time fermented pickles. The taste is distinctive and, to me and my son Shane, addictive. After a few days in the frig, they get real crisp.
1 gallon glass jar or bowl (jar is a better choice)
Pickling cucumbers – enough to fill the jar – about 3 pounds or so
Fresh dill – I like lots
Pickling or Kosher salt
Water and cider vinegar
Rye bread with or without caraway
Piece of cloth
Wash cucumbers and cut tip off both ends. Mary starts to slice in halves or quarters, starting at one end of cucumber, but doesn’t slice all the way through the other end so the spears remain connected. You can simply slice them into spears.
Place sliced cucumbers in a large glass bowl or sink. Cover with cold tap water and add 1/2 cup of salt. Swirl around to dissolve salt. Soak 45 minutes. Drain off salt water.
Line bottom of gallon jar with a good amount of dill. Then make a layer of cucumbers, add more dill, another layer of cucumbers, etc., ending with a dill layer until jar is almost full.
Place one or two slices of rye bread on top of last dill layer.
Pickling solution: dissolve 4 tablespoons salt with 4 tablespoons cider vinegar to taste in 1 cup of water. Set aside while pouring regular water half way up the jar of cucumbers. Pour pickling solution over. If you need more water to cover the cucumbers, add it.
Lay a piece or two of rye bread on top. Cover with cloth to keep bugs out.
Day 1: Place in sun, turning jar to face sun several times a day. Bring in at night or if it rains.
Days 2, 3 and possibly 4: Remove rye bread and replace with fresh bread. Place in sun, turning jar to face sun several times a day. Bring in at night or if it rains.
(Cucumbers will start to turn a yellow-green toward the second or third day. They are done in 3-4 days if it’s warm and sunny out. It was almost 90 degrees here when I made these so they were done in 3 days).
Sometimes a bit of scum will form on top. I remove that with a spoon.
NOTE: If some pickling solution has evaporated during the process, make up more and add it or just add water, depending upon your taste. I like to add pickling solution in the proportion of 2 tablespoons ea vinegar and salt to 1 cup water.
IMPORTANT: When pickles are done on the last day, remove rye bread and don’t replace. Store pickles, covered, in frig to crisp up.
Good Add Ins: Garlic, bay leaf, hot peppers. Add these at beginning of pickling cycle.