My goal this year is that I take what I need from the farm beds when I need it – for current meals, that is. Then everything else gets sold at the farm stand on Saturdays. Whatever I don’t sell on Saturday, I “put by” as they say. In other words, preserve. This past Saturday there was some confusion about whether or not I was open. I took the last weekend in July off for a writing retreat, but opened this past Saturday, Aug. 6th. Some folks thought I was still closed. Nope, the Thrasher Studios & Microfarm Stand will be open on Saturdays through to the last possible harvest, and then some. So that meant I had a TON of leftovers – kale, herbs, zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, and squash.
It’s been a rough year on the microfarm. We had super warm weather in April and then super rainy in late May and June. And it’s been super cool the rest of the time (yesterday’s high was 66 degrees, much the same forecasted for today). Not a good season for tomatoes and peppers. However, my cucumbers have been doing phenomenal. But, there’s only so many pickles and dill relish I can make. So, I found this recipe for cucumber ketchup. Of course I can never just leave a recipe as is. I have to add my own touches to it. So I added a tablespoon of smoked paprika and a pinch of saffron to this. I added other things, but I’ll get to that.
Now, cucumbers have a high water content. One of the reasons they are healthy to eat, along with their low caloric count. Plus straight from the farm they taste so incredible. So I followed the recipe’s guidelines on adding just the tiniest bit of water to keep the cucumbers from burning on the bottom of the pan. Clearly even the tiniest bit was too much. Because when it was time to cook down to thicken, it was too watery. To combat that, I added a dollop of tomato paste to help thicken it up. It did so, but not enough to give it the consistency of ketchup. So I added some crushed dried peppers from last year’s garden, let it cook down a bit more and wa-la! Cuke Nuke BBQ Sauce was born.
Next time I will put a bit of white wine instead of water. That way it will cook off when the cucumbers cook down and release their own water. I also may try to cook it in the crock pot and see what happens. In the end this recipe netted me quite a bit of small-batch BBQ sauce. I got 7 half pints canned, one for the freezer, and one for the fridge, plus a bit left over to cook our turkey cutlets for dinner last night.
Here’s the recipe if you want to make Cuke Nuke BBQ Sauce:
Ripe cucumbers, peeled, chopped and seeded (makes 8 cups)
Small amount of water (like just enough to cover the bottom of your pan with water)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cups sugar (original recipe called for 2 cups. We live a no/low sugar life and our sauces don’t need to be this sweet)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped onion (I used red onion, adds sweetness to replace the taken out refined sugar)
4 cups vinegar (I did two cups red wine vinegar and two cups white)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 pinch of saffron (optional)
1 dollop (about two tablespoons) of organic tomato paste
2 tsp. of crushed dried chili peppers
Peel enough cucumbers to make 8 cups after seeds and soft centers have been removed. Add chopped onion, red pepper, and enough water to prevent sticking. Cook slowly, stirring frequently, until tender. Add remaining ingredients. Cook slowly, stirring frequently, until thick. Use an immersion blender to blend smooth, or slightly cool and put in blender to make smooth. Strain to insure no cucumber or pepper seeds are in final product. Return to pan and heat to boiling, and then decrease to simmering. Prepare to can in water bath. Process in water bath for 20 minutes. Makes up to 9 half pints.
Enjoy your cuke nuke bbq sauce. Hopefully next time we’ll actually make ketchup.
Up next time on Harvest Creations: dehydrating Zoodles!