Can you imagine anything better than biting into a cool, freshly picked cucumber in the hot months of the summer? Cucumbers are crisp and juicy, and are a perfectly refreshing vegetable to enjoy during the summer heat in Ontario!
Cucumbers are grown two ways in Ontario. There are field cucumbers, which are grown in soil in a farmer’s field. There are also greenhouse cucumbers, which are grown using hydroponics, using a growing medium other than soil.
While greenhouse cucumbers are available all year round, field cucumbers are available from June to October in Ontario. To pick the best cucumbers, make sure they are firm and do not have any bad or soft spots. This may mean that the cucumbers have started to rot. Ccucumbers should be dark green with no yellow spots on them. Yellow spots usually develop when the cucumbers are too ripe. When they get that ripe, they usually no longer smell or taste fresh. Lastly, you should also avoid choosing cucumbers that have wrinkles. Wrinkly cucumbers usually mean that they have been stored too long or at too high temperatures and have lost some of their moisture.
Cucumbers are fairly perishable. This means that you will have to buy fresh cucumbers every week. Store cucumbers in the refrigerator if you are not using them right away. Cucumbers that are wrapped in plastic or that are waxed will last longer than cucumbers that are not covered.
Scrub the cucumbers with a produce brush under cool, running water when you are ready to use them. The peel has lots of nutrients, so leave it on if you can! If you have used a cucumber and have leftovers, tightly wrap the extras in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Use the leftovers as soon as possible, as they will only stay fresh for another couple of days.
Fresh cucumbers slices are a popular choice for pairing with dip! To try something new, use your cucumbers in following ways:
- Try using cucumber (and your other farm fresh veggies!) to make a cold soup like gazpacho!
- Instead of leafy greens, use cucumber as the base of a salad. Try the Tomato & Cucumber Salad below!
- Cut cucumbers into ¾ inch thick rounds. Scoop out the middle and replace with a dallop of dill flavoured dip for fancy (and healthy!) finger food!
Tomato and Cucumber Salad
- ¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 + ½ Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 cups baby cucumbers, sliced
- 1/3 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp. parsley leaves, finely chopped
- In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion. Add dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle with parsley. Toss and serve.
Tips: For maximum flavor and texture store tomatoes at room temperature. Use a sharp or serrated knife to cut tomatoes. If you’d like, stir in 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese.
Recipe Credit: Foodland Ontario
Summer Fresh Gazpacho with Avocado and Feta Cheese
Serving Size: 1 ½ cup Serves: 8
- 3 medium tomatoes, quartered
- 1 medium green or yellow bell pepper, seeded and quartered
- 1 small cucumber, cut in large pieces
- ½ small red onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- ½ jalapeño pepper*
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, or 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium tomato or vegetable juice**
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and sliced
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Place the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, garlic and jalapeño pepper in a large blender or food processor bowl. Add the basil and oregano. Pulse until coarsely chopped (but not puréed).
- Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl.
- Add the tomato or vegetable juice, vinegar and black pepper. Blend well.
- Cover; refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight to chill and develop the flavors.
- Pour into soup bowls or mugs. Top with the avocado and feta cheese.
*Instead of jalapeño, substitute a dash or more of hot sauce, to taste.
**Choose either regular or spicy tomato juice or vegetable juice, depending on your flavour preference.
Recipe Credit: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
References & Additional Resources