Growing up on a farm meant learning to cook and eat in season, and I’ll always be grateful to have learned that from a young age. I also learned that more often that not, simple is best when it comes to handling what is fresh and seasonal!
One recipe frequently made was what mom called sweet & sour cucumber salad. While I don’t know the origin of the recipe, I suspect it might have been from the local women’s institute cookbook. A collaborative effort by locals, their favourite recipes were submitted, all to contribute to the fund-raising effort.
I can still see my mom’s copy. A light blue cover, no thicker than construction paper, lovingly tattered from so much use, and with a special place in the armoire that housed not only her ‘good’ dishes, but her very pretty collection of bone china tea cups & saucers.
This light & refreshing salad was frequently on the table, using fresh cucumbers from the garden. It really is as simple as combining the vinegar, sugar and salt, and adding the sliced cucumbers. That’s it!
Mom always used plain white vinegar, which I sometimes still do. If you want the flavour less sharp, rice vinegar or even white wine vinegar will accomplish this. I usually use one of those. Peeling or not peeling is up to you. Mom always peeled the skin, but then she was using the hardier, thicker skinned cucumber. Today’s English cucumbers have a much less thicker skin, and I think the colour adds to the dish.
Using a mandolin to slice the cucumber gives uniform slices, and fast. You can even do the slicing right into the bowl.
How easy is that!
Whatever you use to slice the cucumber, don’t worry if the slices are unequal – it’ll just give more texture to the salad. That’s always a good thing.
Pop the bowl in the fridge stirring every 10 – 15 minutes, for at least an hour – longer really is better. To serve, you can drain them but we always served them in a small dish, with some of the ‘marinating’ liquid.
I still make these, and often, always using English cucumbers, and leaving the skin on. It’s a 3-ingredient dish, and nothing could be easier. Or tastier. They’ll keep for days in the fridge, if they last that long!
Serve as a side, or use as a condiment – they’re great anywhere you’d use a sweet pickle or relish. Mom would certainly approve~
Mom’s Sweet & Sour Cucumbers
- 1 English cucumber scrubbed and sliced very thinly into 1/16” slices
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/8 cup rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
- Large pinch of salt
In a medium sized bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar and salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Add the sliced cucumbers and mix. If you have a mandoline, use it; slice the cucumbers right into the bowl.
Pop in the fridge, stirring every 10 - 15 minutes, for at least an hour - longer really is better. Taste for seasoning; you may need a bit more salt.
Depending on how you serve them you can drain some/all of the liquid, but we always served them in a small dish, with some of the ‘marinating’ liquid, and its great flavour.
*Don't be alarmed by the amount of sugar used; it really is necessary and most of it is not eaten.
*Recipe is easily multiplied to feed a crowd.