Don't limit yourself to using cucumbers as an addition to the basic salad. Instead, blanch them for use in hot dishes, specialty salads or to freeze for year-round use. Blanching cucumbers, as with other vegetables, stops the enzymes that cause the natural ripening process. Over time, these enzymes prompt the deterioration of the flavor, color and texture of vegetables, so blanching helps keep cucumbers and other vegetables fresh, healthful and appealing.
Slice the cucumbers into thin, uniform slices. Depending on how you plan to use the cucumbers after they are blanched, you can peel them before slicing or leave them unpeeled. For hot dishes, the peel can be left on, while you might want to peel the cucumbers if they will be used in salads or other dishes that are served cold.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Put the cucumber slices into the boiling water in small batches. Leave them in the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, then promptly remove them with a slotted spoon.
Place the cucumbers into a bowl of ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. Be sure they are fully submerged in the cold water for at least 3 to 4 minutes. Refresh the cold water as necessary for subsequent batches of cucumbers.
Prepare the blanched cucumbers as a vegetable side dish, part of a salad or in whatever manner you prefer. Blanched cucumbers can also be frozen, although their high water content makes them slightly soft or soggy when thawed. Blanching cucumbers before freezing them will minimize this effect.
- If you are planning to freeze the cucumbers, you can leave them whole and unpeeled. Blanch quickly for 2 or 3 minutes, then submerge immediately in ice-cold water. When they have cooled, put the cucumbers in resealable plastic bags with all the air pressed out, or wrap them tightly in plastic wrap.
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