No one expects to see a recipe for cucumber salad this time of year, but our granddaughter requested it for Thanksgiving, and I wasn't surprised! While you usually consider it a summer staple, it's a great dish anytime.
Our whole family loves this Danish-style cucumber salad, and it works with any menu because it's crisp and crunchy, a little bit sweet, and a little bit salty. Around our house, this dish is affectionately known as "cukies."
Today, the crisp green cylindrical fruit is among the most popular items in the produce aisle. Yes, you read that right. Cucumbers are classified as fruits. Thanks to modern agriculture and transportation, wonderful cucumbers are available year-round!
We will get to the cucumber salad recipe, I promise! But first, some fascinating horticultural history. Cucumbers were cultivated well before Jesus was born! They originated in India about 3000 years ago and quickly spread into Greece, Rome, Europe, and beyond.
It wasn't long after the Pilgrims arrived in North America they hustled up and began growing cucumbers in their new country.
The most famous cucumber fan of all was Emperor Tiberius, who reigned in 14 to 37 AD. He was so crazy about them that he insisted on having them on his table daily. That meant during summer and winter as well!
To meet his demands, the Romans reportedly grew them in raised beds on wheels, allowing the plants to be moved all over the place to take full advantage of the sunlight.
In the coldest part of winter, they were wheeled into some of the first primitive greenhouses lined with mirror stone, believed to have been shiny sheet mica, to reflect more sunlight. How Tiberius would have loved today's produce departments!
Cucumbers offer nearly endless health benefits. They are much more than a crudité or a circular slice of green on the salad bar! They are a great, filling snack with a lot of bang for the calorie buck!
Cucumbers are a wonderfully refreshing way to hydrate because they are 95 percent water. But don't be fooled! They've got lots more going for them, so that's good for you! Remember, unpeeled cucumbers give us the highest nutritional value. Look at just a few of the nutritional benefits in an article from the Cleveland Clinic!
The Danes like sweet and sour dishes like this. It complements their simple meals of fish or pork and potatoes. In Denmark, this dish is called agurkasalat.
Salt and Vinegar Cucumbers start with firm, fresh, slicing cucumbers. My absolute favorite is an English cucumber, which is sometimes called a "burpless" cucumber. However, almost any good "cuke" will work!
Most of the time, I begin by peeling the cukes. If you select a thin-skinned English one, you can leave it on. Fresh ones are best, as always. I remove most of the thick, waxy peel when I buy grocery store cucumbers.
If I make a big family-size batch for summer at the lake, I use a food processor to slice the cucumbers and I slice the onion almost paper thin. I dump them right into the glass bowl as I go. I will use the same bowl to serve them. Since the salad is acidic, a glass bowl, or even a plastic one, is ideal to use.
For the two of us, I use a little hand slicer. A chef knife works just fine if you want to take the time. I usually don't! Do you?
The Danes do like their salt. You can certainly use less salt if you prefer. The salt is added to draw moisture out of the cucumbers and forms a brine where the cukes develop their flavor. We do not eat the brine, but sometimes save it and add more cucumbers.
You might like a little less salt than they do, but most of the salt stays behind in the brine. Once the brine has made everything all juicy, add the vinegar, sugar, and pepper. Adjust the flavors until it suits your palate.
This salad is a cousin to pickles without the hassle of canning. It's a wonderful "keeper" that stays crisp and crunchy in the fridge for a week or more. You can even add more cucumbers to the brine and readjust the sugar, salt, and pepper.
When fresh cucumbers are abundant, it's perfect for outdoor picnics because it doesn't pose the dangers of mayonnaise-based salads. If you like dill, add it! The Danes often add fresh-snipped dill to the mixture when it's available.
You can easily add more sugar, salt, or vinegar until it tastes just right to you once you're ready to serve them. They keep a week or more in the fridge.
If you liked this recipe, you are my people! If you like this recipe, please share it on your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter! It would sure tickle me, and I would be ever so grateful!
Love, GB (Betty Streff)
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