My glut crops at the moment are tomatoes, button squash, pumpkins, snake beans, leeks, and cucumbers.
My favourite varieties these days are Suyo long, Richmond River White and Giant Burpless. I tried cucamelons last year but although they are cute, and astonishingly hardy and prolific (to the point where I worry that they could end up a pest plant) they didn’t make it into the favourites list. This year I obeyed my own rule of only planting out just a couple of different kinds each planting break. A couple in September, a couple in October, a couple in November. Only the September ones are really bearing yet, the October ones just starting, and already I’m at give-away stage with cucumbers.
I do have a recipe for dill pickles, and one for bread-and-butter cucumbers, and for gherkins with really young ones. Once upon a time in my earth-mother aspiring days I would load up pantry shelves with jars of pickles and jam and vacola preserved vegetables. I still have a bit of a soft spot for jars like that as decor – jewel colours and a picture of frugal affluence.
But up here in Northern NSW, cucumber season is long. The dill pickles are nice enough. The problem is that a jar will never be opened while we have the choice of fresh cucumbers, especially not when we have fresh cucumbers filling up the fridge, loading up the bench, appearing at every meal. By the time the first frost finally finishes them off, we are so over cucumbers that they are going to be given a miss in any form for quite a few months, and anyway, it’s the season for leafy greens. Then, just as we start to fancy opening a jar, the new season vines start to bear little green gems, and its on again. The same issues get in the way of preserving or freezing just about anything these days. I make preserves as condiments, and eat (mostly) what’s in season. Gluts are for barter or give away, and when that route is exhausted, there’s always chooks.
There are many ways to get through lots of cucumbers. Gazpacho is one of the best. Tzatziki or cucumber raita is a side dish for just about every meal. Cucumber is a main ingredient in summer salads, Greek or Asian. In this party season, cucumber sticks are great for carrying dips like hummus or baba ganoush or eggplant and pomegranite or roast pumpkin and macadamia or roast beetroot or Muhammara. And really fresh crisp cucumber makes a good substitute for crackers, loaded up with cream cheese and dill, or tomato salsa, or (yes, the irony has come back to bite me) feta and lime pickle.