Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cucumbers and Onions - One Of Our Favorites

Did your family have a recipe of some kind for  cucumbers and onions in vinegar?  Seems these recipes exist around the world.  When our kids were all at home, this was one of their most favorite sides that I would make.  They would eat a whole bowl full at one meal.  Since there was all that delicious vinegar goodness left in the bowl, I would simply peel and slice more cucumbers and onions and add it to the brine.  More for the next day!

I made these a couple of weeks ago when the family came over for dinner, and nothing has changed - they were devoured.  We all love them, except for Dan.  He is not a fan of anything made with vinegar.  I know, I don't understand it but that's the way it is.  He doesn't like salad dressings, most condiments and NOTHING that he even suspects has vinegar in it.  Let's face it, we all have something we don't like.

This is a dish that I grew up with and many of you probably did too.  My great grandmother, grandmother and mother all made these, especially in summer when there were plenty of fresh cucumbers.  There are a myriad of recipes available, some using mayonnaise, while most use vinegar, oil and sugar.  That's what I am accustomed to.  I tried to find the history of this dish and where it originated, but it seems to exist in some form everywhere.  

Cucumbers originated in India. where a great many varieties of cucumber have been observed. They have been cultivated for at least 3,000 years, and were probably introduced to other parts of Europe by the Greeks or Romans. Records of cucumber cultivation appear inFrance in the 9th century, England in the 14th century, and in North America by the mid-16th century.  Wikipedia

Cucumbers and pickling have been traced back as far as 4400 years ago.  There are references to Cleopatra believing that pickles enhanced her beauty and Julius Caesar was also a fan.  The Bible has several references to cucumbers, so we know they have been around a good long while.  George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were also reported to be lovers of pickles.  Amerigo Vespucci, for whom our Country is named. was a pickle salesman.  I mean, other than Dan, who doesn't love a good pickle?  

Even though this recipe uses fresh cucumbers and onions, it is still a form of "quick" pickling because it involves vinegar.  Vinegar is a preservative and immigrants coming to America usually traveled with quantities of pickles because they were nutritious and would not go bad on the long ocean journey.  If you want some interesting reading, Google the history of vinegar.  At least I thought it was interesting.

Science now knowns that cucumbers contain anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.  Not only do they taste good, they are good for you!   Pickles also contain probiotics which are helpful to the digestive system.   It's nice to know that pickles are actually good for you!

Here is what you need to make a batch of these cucumbers and onions.

3-4 whole cucumbers, peeled and sliced
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

I made these in a 1 1/2 quart Pyrex dish that we received as a wedding gift almost 43 years ago.  Yes, it's practically an antique, but it has a lid and that means I can store leftovers in the refrigerator.

First, peel and slice the cucumbers and onions.  Generously salt both sides of the cucumbers and onions, mixing them up with your hands or a large spoon to make sure they are all salted.  Let them sit for about 1/2 hour.  (I don't rinse mine but I do drain any water off that comes out of the cucumbers.)

Place the cucumbers and onions in the container you plan to serve them in.  For this size container, I mixed 1 cup cider vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup vegetable oil.  Mix thoroughly with a whisk until the oil is combined with the vinegar.  Pour over the cucumbers and onions and refrigerate.  These can be served anytime, but if they marinate for a while the cucumbers absorb more of the flavor.

If you want to use white vinegar, or red wine vinegar, that is your choice.  I prefer the slight sweetness apple cider vinegar adds to the flavor and it's the way we always made them.   You know, it's the way I prefer them.  You make them however you want.

I am sitting here looking the the picture as I type and it is literally making my mouth water wishing I had a big bowl of these to have with dinner.  Looks like there is a project in my future.  Hope you give these a try.   If you didn't have these growing up, you may not know what you have been missing.  Mm mmm mmmm.  

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

American King James Version
We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic:  Numbers 11:5

1 comment:

  1. I just made this with red cider vinegar, olive oil, and splenda. It's wonderful! I'm eating it right now Yum!