15 Aug

Cucumbers are perfect for cooling off on hot summer days, whether they be in salads, beverages or cold soup.

Cukes can be eaten fresh, cooked, or pickledCukes can be eaten fresh, cooked, or pickled.Attendees at the quarterly Long Beach Organic cooking workshop got to sample five cucumber recipes, including Ken Yliniemi’s family recipe for pickles.

“A couple of people asked me, ‘You’re cooking cucumbers?’” said garden director and chef Joe Corso.

But in actuality only one recipe—Cream of Cucumber soup—was cooked. A Julia Child recipe, the soup called for cucumbers, leeks, butter, broth, wine vinegar, dill, and sour cream. “It’s a little decadent,” said Corso.

Chef Amanda Aiton prepared Kachoombar, an Indian chopped salad with cucumbers, tomato, red onion, jalapeno, cumin, cayenne, and lime. “It’s a lot of chopping,” said Aiton. “It’s not too strict on quantities.”

Aiton also made Cucumber Canapes, in which bleu or gorgonzola cheese mixed with almonds, cranberries, and honey are combined and spread on cucumber slices.

Ken Yliniemi shares family recipe for pickles.Ken Yliniemi shares family recipe for pickles.For those with cucumbers they’d like to preserve, Yliniemi shared his family’s pickle recipe. It’s best to use pickling cucumbers, which are shorter and tougher. Since they’re often hard to find in stores, Yliniemi suggested growing your own.

The pickles are simple to make. After sterilizing wide-mouthed preserve jars, pack them with garlic, dill sprigs, cleaned cucumbers, and brine made from 2 cups filtered water, 2 cups vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of salt. Tighten the lid, and in 10-14 days, the pickles will be ready to eat.

“This is how we preserved things before refrigeration, so you could have cucumbers in the winter time,” said Yliniemi.

Topping off the recipes was Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca, a refreshing beverage composed of cucumbers, lime juice, mint leaves, sugar, and water.

The cooking classes are open to all LBO members and their guests, although donations are appreciated. Minimum LBO membership is $25 per year, and can be paid at the event. Participants get a taste of each dish and the printed recipes: LBO-COOKS-Cucumber-Recipes.pdf

- Margo McCall

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