Snacking on cucumbers right off of the plants is one of Joanna’s favorite ways to quench thirst on hot days. This recipe for a refreshing cucumber drink comes courtesy of her parents, and we’ve quickly become addicted to it as an almost-as-easy cure for thirst.1 tray of ice cubes
2 cucumbers, any kind (taste a slice at the stem end first to check for bitterness*), de-seeded only if overgrown, peeled only if desired
~1/4 cup of sugar syrup (or 1/8 cup of sugar/honey), or more or less to taste
~2-4 Tbl of citrus juice (juice of a lime or lemon, or a packet or two of frozen 100% calamansi juice)
herbs (optional), such as Kentucky colonel mint or lime basil
Make ahead (optional): A herb-infused sugar syrup is a nice addition to this drink. We mix sugar and water (50:50 by volume) in a saucepan, bring to a boil, let cool a few minutes, add herbs (usually either Kentucky colonel mint or lime basil), and let steep until the herb flavor is nicely infused. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the drink: In a blender or food processor with blade attachment, pulverize the ice & cucumbers, and add the other ingredients. If using a blender, add the ice cubes slowly to avoid overwhelming the blender. Pour into a glass, garnish with herb sprig if desired, & enjoy.
* Sometimes cucumbers develop bitterness, and unfortunately this isn’t something we can identify visually. If a cucumber is bitter, the bitterness tends to be concentrated at the stem end. Sometimes just chucking a bit from the stem end into the compost is enough to avoid bitter flavors, though occasionally entire cucumbers will become bitter. Peeling can help, too. My understanding is that the bitterness is a defense of the plant against insect pests (such as the cucumber beetles). As the season progresses, bitter cucumbers tend to become a bit more common because the plants that are well defended with bitter compounds tend to be the survivors that are still producing.