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Excess cucumbers can be sliced and pickled with onions.

Zero waste: cucumbers

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Cornersmith duo Alex Elliott-Howery and Jaimee Edwards are all about reducing food waste. Here are their ideas for using excess cucumbers.

Pickles, gin, and a healthy snack for kids: the cucumber is the key ingredient to our favourite things. Cucumbers are refreshing, grassy, a little sweet and sometimes bitter. 

When the backyard is exploding with cucumbers or they are abundant and cheap at the farmer’s market, it’s time to fill the fridge. And if you need to use them quick sticks, here are some ideas:

Cucumber gin 

Smash any rejected cucumber sticks from the kid’s lunch box with basil leaves into a glass. Cover with ice, gin and a splash of tonic, and go and sit outside.

Cucumber water 

Slice ½ cucumber into rounds and put in a jug of water with lots of fresh mint. Keep in the fridge and enjoy over the next day or two. If you’re planning on storing it for a few days, remove the cucumber slices and herbs.

Raita or tzatziki 

Cucumber and yoghurt are a perfect match, bringing cool and tang to the table. Dice cucumbers and sprinkle with salt, leave for 20 minutes, then drain off excess liquid. Mix into yoghurt with salt, garlic, lemon juice, black pepper and a glug of oil.

Simple cucumber salad with black pepper & basil

Cut paper-thin slices of cucumber using a mandoline or sharp knife and lay them flat on your nicest little platter. Lightly splash with some vinegar and sprinkle on some salt and a little sugar, then let it sit for 10 minutes. A little pickling brine will form and become the dressing. Crack black pepper over the top, drizzle with a little oil and scatter some basil leaves on top if you have them.


Japanese-style soy-pickled cucumber

Makes 1 x 300–400ml jar

These pickles will be delicious in a few hours and will then last for 2–3 weeks in the fridge. Try this recipe with daikon, chopped iceberg lettuce, celery or radish. Eat your pickles with rice and a fried egg, noodle dishes, dumplings or san choy bow. 

1. Slice and salt 1–2 cucumbers and set aside for 15 minutes or so. 

2. In a small saucepan, gently heat ¼ cup (60ml) soy sauce or tamari, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon caster sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat and set aside. 

3. Pat the cucumber slices dry with paper towel or a clean tea towel and transfer to a clean jar or container. 

4. For extra flavour, you can add to the jar, a few slices of fresh ginger, 1 small chopped chilli, 1 sliced garlic clove or a splash of sesame oil. 

5. Cover all with the soy mixture, pushing the cucumber down under the liquid. Seal, then swish the jar around to make sure all the cucumber is lightly coated – more liquid will form over time, so don’t worry if they’re not all completely covered at first. Store in the fridge.


See more tips from Cornersmith duo, Alex Elliott-Howery and Jaimee Edwards, in their latest cookbook, The Food Saver’s A-Z. And for gardening tips galore, get our latest issue.

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