In Season: Creamed Cucumbers

One of my favorite memories of visiting my grandmother, Nanny, was her cucumber salad (and how she would always spoon coffee into my milk while remarking, “Now don’t say anything to your mother about this. . . .”).

When the weather was at its hottest, I would sit at her small kitchen table with my back to the curtained stairs leading to the unused second floor. (Turning my back to those hidden stairs always gave me the creeps.)The window open on our left caught whatever breeze there was, usually not much. The table would be set with the pink Melmac dishes Nanny favored. The main dish was usually last night’s leftover baked potatoes and the remains of a beef or pork roast minced fine and fried to near extinction (which tasted much better than it looked).  I drank my milk from the heavy glass footed juice glasses that had originally contained shrimp cocktail.

A bowl of creamed cucumbers and a plate of sliced tomatoes were often our side dishes. My mother rarely served cucumbers in any form other than a jar of store-bought pickles. Either my family wouldn’t eat them, or she didn’t have the time to prepare them as did my widowed grandmother.  There is a process to preparing this simple salad of sour cream, onion, and cucumbers.

Creamed Cucumbers

  • 4 or 5 large (or more) cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced 
  • Salt
  • sour cream to taste (I use light sour cream)
  • ¼ to ½ cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives (optional)

1.       Using a sharp knife or mandolin cutter, slice peeled cucumbers into thin slices. Cut cucumbers lengthwise and scrape out seeds if necessary.

2.       Layer cucumber slices in a straight sided bowl, sprinkles each layer with salt. Continue until all cucumbers have been added.

3.       Cover cucumbers and salt mixture with a plate and weigh down with a glass jar filled with water or some other kind of clean weight.

4.       Pour off cucumber juices periodically as they collect in the bowl and replace weight. Continue to “sweat” cucumbers in this fashion until not much juice is forming. Cucumbers will have shrunk considerably in size. The more moisture that is drawn from the cucumbers at this time, the creamier and less dilute the sour cream sauce will remain in the finished dish.

5.       Rinse and drain cucumbers if they are too salty for your taste. (Most of the salt should have been poured off with the juices.)

6.       Add sour cream and thinly sliced onions, and stir well to combine.

7.       Garnish with minced chives.

8.       Refrigerate until serving time and any leftovers thereafter.

You can use as many cucumbers as you wish to make this dish. Simply adjust the proportions of the other ingredients to balance the increased amount of sweated cucumbers.  You could also substitute yogurt for the sour cream if you wish. I am converting a generous gift of cucumbers even as I finish this post. Try this simple recipe three- ingredient salad with some of your cucumbers and early onions today. Begonia

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