I didn’t grow cucumber this year. I didn’t need to. My afore-mentioned wonderful neighbor and friend did grow them, and brought them over to me by the bagful. Now, I like cucumber as well as the next guy. I like to slice one in half, sprinkle a little salt on it, and eat it raw and fresh – it is at least as refreshing as snack as biting into an apple. But the quantities I received this year were way beyond the occasional snack. Never wanting anything to go to waste, I turned to the internet for preservation ideas. I got thousands of hits but it turns out there is really only one preservation idea for cucumbers: pickles. And I’m not crazy about pickles. My family won’t eat pickles. There is still a jar of pickles in the fridge that I made when I last grew pickles more than 3 years ago. ‘Nuff said.
Clearly it was time to come up with my own idea, and with a little experimentation, I did: Cucumber Salsa. As wacky as it may sound, it is actually very edible, and I was able to turn those bags of vegetables into something we actually WILL eat. And, since I canned most of what I made, it can be stored for quite some time.
The recipe is flexible – salsa is supremely forgiving so quantities are approximate:
6lb cucumbers (leave the peel on)
Peppers – any kind. We like hot peppers so I used copious quantities of our home-grown peppers, but any pepper can be used here.
Apple cider vinegar – about 1/2 cup
Herbs & spices – in various batches I used combinations of basil, cilantro, dill and oregano, to taste.
Add the apple cider vinegar and herbs/spices to the bottom of a large stock pot, and turn the heat on medium. While it is heating, chop the onions. Add to the simmering stockpot. Do the same with the peppers. Next, slice the cucumbers, then add to the pot. Bring back to a simmer and simmer about 5 minutes.
Stir well, to thoroughly mix all ingredients. Now, ladle as much as will fit into the bowl of your food processor. You will likely need to do multiple batches. Pulse only until the mix looks roughly like salsa. Transfer to canning jars, and repeat until the whole batch has been processed. You will probably have a lot of liquid left in the bottom of the pan, as the juices from the cucumber are released. You can use the liquid if the mix seems too thick or dry, to add a little moisture back into it, but you probably will not use it all. HWA and I found the liquid made a refreshing drink, served over ice – but then, we like apple cider vinegar.
That’s it. Easy. Preserved. And no cucumbers go to waste.