Florida Produce: Cucumbers
Last week I talked about Florida oranges. This week I’m going to talk about the benefits and uses of one of my favorite vegetables, the cucumber. I simply love cucumbers. They are just so cool and refreshing – and there are many ways you can eat them. A while back I posted an article on my experience with making tzatziki, which is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to eat cucumber.
Cucumbers are in the cucurbit family, which includes cantaloupes, honeydew melons and squash. Mainly grown in Central and South Florida, cucumbers are available September to June, with a peak harvest in April.
How to buy
Cucumbers should be firm, unblemished and either light or dark green, but never yellow. Smaller cucumbers usually have better texture and flavor.
Tips for storage
Store your cucumbers in the refrigerator, unwashed in a perforated plastic bag or crisper drawer so they can breath. Never freeze cucumbers.
To seed cucumbers, simply slice them in half lengthwise, and then use a teaspoon to scoop out all the seeds. When adding sliced or chopped cucumber to a yogurt or sour cream-based sauce or soup, do so at the last moment as they will release water the longer they stand.
Flavors well with
Mint, parsley, chives, chili peppers, vinegar, yogurt, lemon, seafood, soy sauce
Because every post is better with a recipe, here’s one that our Chef Justin wrote.
Cucumber and Avocado Soup
Yield 4 Servings
3 Florida cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced
2 ripe Florida avocados
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 bunch Florida parsley, chopped (plus more for garnish)
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Add cucumber slices, broth, salt, pepper and cayenne then bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook on low until the cucumbers are soft.
Carefully transfer the soup to a blender. Add avocado and parsley; blend on low speed until smooth. Pour into a serving bowl and stir in yogurt. Serve warm or chilled. Just before serving, garnish with extra cucumber and chopped parsley.