Lemon Cucumbers

My earliest memory of eating a lemon cucumber is from when I was about 6 or 7 years old. It must have been August, because our family vegetable garden was at its peak, and the early evening was warm. My parents were away, and our neighbor Dori was babysitting. She took us out to the garden for dinner with a bowl of ranch salad dressing. Dori is a chef, so it was homemade and especially tasty. We just grazed around the garden, picking whatever vegetables we felt like eating, and dipping it in the dressing. I ate a lot of lemon cucumbers that evening, along with tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, young zucchini, and green beans.

Lemon cucumbers

Ever since I started having my own vegetable gardens, I cannot remember a year where I did not grow at least one lemon cucumber plant. Their vines are vigorous: provide them with a strong support, or, if you want them to ramble on the ground, give at least 4 to 5 feet of space around each plant. This year I am growing some in a 2 foot round by 4 foot tall wire cage, and some spilling out of a 1/2 wine barrel.

Lemon cucumber plants

Lemon cucumbers are best picked when about 2 inches in diameter, although baseball-sized ones can be peeled and eaten; their lemony flavor is a bit more pronounced when they are bigger. I don’t believe I have ever bitten into a lemon cucumber that was bitter, but the peels do get tough.
Although I still love to eat them dipped in salad dressing; my favorite way to eat them is chopped into quarters in a:

Cucumber Tomato Basil Salad

  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • fresh basil leaves
  • feta or other crumbly cheese
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • balsamic vinaigrette, or any dressing you like

No exact measurements are needed when making this salad. Use equal parts fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, chop into bite-sized pieces and place in a salad bowl. About 1/2 cup each of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers is a good amount per person. Slice the basil leaves into really thin ribbons, and add to the cucumbers and tomatoes along with the rest of the ingredients. Use enough dressing to coat the veggies well, but not so much it leaves a pool of dressing in the bottom of the bowl. I like to add a tablespoon or so at a time, lightly tossing as I go. Any tomato or cucumber is great in this salad, but one of my favorite combinations is lemon cucumber with Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato, a perfect crunchy to juicy ratio.