Browsing Tag


Food & Drink

5 Cucumber Recipes (and a Slug Deterrent)

October 6, 2014

5 cucumber recipes

How many recipes can you come up with that use cucumber as the main ingredient (not counting cucumber sandwiches and salad)?

As a result of an almost overwhelming glut of cucumbers in Callan community garden (we’ve been averaging around six to ten for the past few weeks), I set the group the challenge of coming up with some different cucumber recipes. After a bit of homework, here’s what they arrived with on our Monday morning session.

5 Cucumber Soup Recipes1. Cucumber Soup

Maureen arrived with a tub of freshly made soup. We were a bit skeptical at the thought of eating cucumber flavoured soup as it’s something we tend to associate with cool dishes. Having tried the recipe that Maureen found in a Myrtle Allan cookbook, we all agreed, we’d think again. This was a surprisingly tasty vegetable soup! It basically contained some potato, carrot, stock, seasoning and cucumber and I’m looking forward to surprising my family and seeing if they can guess what the flavour is.

2. Sweet Cucumber Pickle

If sweet chutney is your thing then you’d love this recipe. Joan brought along a very tasty sample of a sweet cucumber pickle she made which we all enjoyed with some crackers. I didn’t manage to get the recipe from Joan on this occasion but Margaret from A Year in Redwood shares one over on her blog.

5 Cucumber Recipes3. Cucumber and Apple Chutney

Siobhan turned up with a little jar of cucumber and apple chutney that went down a treat and we decided to add it to our chutney range during our joint preserving session with Freshford group. We’ll be showcasing several chutney and jams at Savour Kilkenny Food Festival on the 25th /26th October on The Parade. If you can’t make it to Kilkenny to sample the chutney, Siobhan has generously shared the recipe:

Siobhan’s Cucumber & Apply Chutney Recipe

1 kg cucumber, remove skin, seeds & finely chop
1 kg cooking apples, peeled, cored & finely chopped
650g onions, finely chopped
700mls cider vinegar
500g light brown sugar
125g raisins
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste


Cut the cucumber in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds (if a ridge variety, peel the skin off first), cut into small, bite sized pieces and place in a large saucepan with the finely diced apples, onions and vinegar. Bring to the boil then simmer until soft. Add the sugar, raisins, allspice, cayenne and season to taste. Simmer until the mixture is thick. Pour into hot, sterilised jars and seal. Chutney is best after it’s been left unopened for a month or so to allow the flavours to develop.

5 cucumber recipes4. Cucumber Paté

Cucumber strips filled with a mackerel paté was the contribution I offered to the table having spotted a recipe online that came up with a similar combination. If you’d like to try this, peel the cucumber lengthways with a potato peeler and pat the strips dry on a clean tea towel. The bigger and straighter the cucumber the better. Drain the oil from a tin of mackerel fillets, then combine the fish with a small tub of soft cheese. It would be more usual to add a squeeze of lemon to the mixture but as I didn’t have any, added some freshly squeezed orange. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and it would be a really good recipe for anyone on a low-calorie diet looking for a different snack to try.

5. Cucumber Raita

This recipe didn’t turn up on the community garden table but is one I’ve made on several occasions to accompany the curries that Mr G likes to dish up. Just mix a large tub of organic yogurt with half a finely grated cucumber, some chopped fresh mint leaves and chopped chilli pepper to taste. It’s a good idea to grate the cucumber into a clean tea towel and squeeze out the excess water before adding it to the yogurt.

Cucumber Slug Deterrent

Lastly, when I was doing my own research I found this cucumber slug deterrent on the Real Pharmacy website that lists 13 uses for cucumbers. It seemed too good a tip not to share:

Cut up a few slices of cucumber and pop them into small, aluminium pie dishes and leave them scattered around the garden (I’m guessing when it’s dry weather). Apparently the chemicals in the cucumber will react with the tin and give off a scent that will deter slugs from our gardens. Has anyone tried this? Certainly seems worth a go.

What do you think, would you try any of these dishes out or can share any of your own?

Food & Drink

Harvesting Broad Fava Beans – how many ways do you think you can eat them?

June 30, 2012
Harvesting Broad (Fava) Beans - how many ways do you think you can eat them?

Broad (Fava) Beans

Are you a fan of broad beans (or fava beans as they’re known in the majority of countries around the world)? Have you even tried them?

I wrote a blog post a while ago about how easy it is to grow these hardy beans, but basically just pop a seed in the soil and watch it grow!

Harvesting Broad (Fava) Beans - how many ways do you think you can eat them?

Broad (Fava) Bean Flowers

Watching the plants grow, smelling the beautiful scented blossoms as they develop never ceases to bring a smile.Baby broad (fava) bean

Have you ever observed how a bean appears? I was enthralled the first time I saw it, checking my plants daily to see if there’d been a development overnight. Firstly the flowers open, then as they wither you’ll notice tiny little beanlets replacing them. The pods develop on the bottom of the plant first, so that’s where you’ll find them first. When they’re ripe for picking just twist them off the stems rather than pulling which will prevent an accidental stem snapping. As the plant continues to grow, more beans will appear, working their way upwards.

Harvesting Broad (Fava) Beans - how many ways do you think you can eat them?

A morning’s harvest


Outside my bean plants never usually make it past waist height but this year in the polytunnel they were over six-foot tall – that’s a whole lotta beans!

So once your beans are developing what then? How do you know when to harvest them?

Would it surprise you that you can prepare a simple broad bean in at least five different ways?

Different ways of preparing broad (fava) beans

  1. Starting with a bean pod about a little finger in length, you can leave these whole, top and tail then add to stir fries, steam or add to stews.
  2. As they grow larger, about middle finger length, slice them into 1cm pieces and cook – we usually steam and serve them as an accompanying veg.
  3. Larger still, when you can see the bulges of the beans growing inside, split the pods open, remove the beans and add to salads, steam or become more adventurous with different bean recipes.
  4. If you find the waxy outer shell of the beans too tough, you can split these open to  reveal tiny little pea sized tender beans. The easiest way to do this is to put them into  boiling water for a minute, then plunge into cold water and pull off the skins. I’ve watched a friend sit and double pod her broad beans in this way but I have to admit to taking the lazy option – serving them hot onto plates and the diner can choose whether they would like to take this fiddly option.
  5. Finally you can dry them – lovely for winter stews. The simplest way is to leave the pods on the plants until they go brown and dry up.
broad (fava) bean tops

broad (fava) bean tops

As if that’s not enough variations of a meal from one plant, the tender tops can also be removed and lightly steamed just like spring beans. Pick them when the plant is still flowering but before the pods form. This will help the pods to swell and prevent blackfly too as they’re very attracted to the tasty tops. Wash the tops a couple of times and steam them for a few minutes.

Wikipedia lists many other ways of cooking broad or fava beans in countries around the world – I like the idea of frying them (which splits their shells) then salt or spices are added making them a tasty snack – might give this a go!

black bean aphid

black bean aphid

It’s important to keep picking beans as this will encourage more – stop picking and the plant will stop producing.

You can either harvest the beans as you require them, or pick them all, blanch and freeze. Blanching involves placing the washed and prepared beans into boiling water for two minutes then plunging into cold water. I find it easier to bag  them into portion sizes bags (I usually serve up four portions with family meals so that’s how many spoonfuls end up in my bags) then freeze them. Blanching prevents enzymes building up when defrosting and helps to retain the texture and flavour.

nitrogen nodules on broad beans

nitrogen nodules on broad beans

Once you’ve removed all the beans from the plants, cut the stems off at ground level digging the roots into the soil. You might notice nitrogen nodules growing on the roots which following plants will benefit from (the nodules ‘fix’ nitrogen into the soil.) Disease free stems can be added to the compost heap.

Have you any favourite recipes for using these versatile beans?