If you only think of cucumbers as a simple salad topper or something to be pickled, then think again. Jam-packed with water, cucumber is the ultimate summer vegetable. Cool and refreshing, it can make for a delicious addition to a variety of dishes — yes, we mean dishes other than salads. What’s more, it is not only a flavorful way to chill beverages, but it can work well as the base for various skincare recipes.
Whether you eat it, drink it, smash it up, blend it, slice it, freeze it, pickle it, or cover your face in it, there is no denying cucumber is a seriously versatile veggie, and it is a must-have ingredient for your chiller when the weather outside takes a turn for the hot. Looking for different ways to stay cool as, well, a cuke? Here are 14 cucumber hacks for this summer that are sure to make you feel refreshed.
Cooling cucumber popsicles
Keep cool and hydrated with a low-calorie ice pop and make your own iced veggie treat on a stick. Cucumber popsicles are easy to make and deliciously thirst-quenching to grab from the freezer and eat on a hot day. If you’d like one with a little zest, look no further than Veggie Desserts‘ recipe for a cucumber and lemon version. All you need to do is blend a whole unpeeled cucumber with the juice of half a lemon, a tablespoon of lemon zest, and a cup of coconut water, plus a tablespoon of agave nectar honey. You can also use a different sweetener in place of the honey. The smooth mixture’s then frozen in iced lolly molds.
A cucumber and mint popsicle can be a tingling and refreshing treat for the tastebuds in the summer. Per Times of India, to make 12 popsicles, you’ll need a kilogram of cucumbers, peeled and chopped, 10 mint leaves, and one and a half cups of powdered sugar. You’ll also need six tablespoons of lime juice, a quarter tablespoon of green tea powder, and a cup and a half of water. Heat the water and a third of the sugar to create a syrup, before adding the mint leaves and letting the mixture cool down. After 10 minutes, take out the leaves, blend the rest of the ingredients, except the sugar, and add the mint syrup to the mix as well as the sugar to suit your taste. You can then freeze the mixture in popsicle molds.
Make a lettuce-free cucumber salad
This summer, make cucumber the star of the summer salad with a show-stopping recipe that reimagines this classic cold dish. Who says you need lettuce to make a cool salad? Cucumbers can be the main attraction. What’s more, you can try experimenting with different flavors. The key to a great salad is the dressing, and before you reach for a pre-mixed shop-bought one, think about how easy and delicious it is to make your own. As Paleo Grubs notes, vinaigrette and certain flavors work wonderfully with cucumbers, such as dill, green onion, garlic, and honey.
Once you’ve peeled your cucumber, slice it thinly. This will give your salad a softer, less chunky and crunchy texture. Mix apple cider vinegar, raw honey, and dill in a glass, with salt and pepper, plus minced garlic. Pour this over the cucumber and sliced onions, seasoning to your taste and toss your cucumber salad. Ideally, you’re best serving this salad straightaway. However, you can store it in the fridge if you cover the cucumber fully with the vinaigrette and the vinegar taste will really come to the fore.
Create cucumber spirals
There’s more than one way to cut a cucumber, and there’s no reason you have to spend your whole summer creating classic round slices or half moons every time you make a cucumber salad. The Art of Doing Stuff suggests adding some creative flair to your cucumber cutting by creating a spiral effect. As fun as it may be to add an interesting texture and design aesthetic to dishes, you don’t have to acquire any special skills or tools for that matter. Rather, you just need a simple vegetable peeler. First, slice off the end of your cucumber. Start peeling from this end, in a circular way, and as you do turn your cucumber so you are, in effect, crafting spirals. See how long you can make each spiral, and as one inevitably breaks, just continue and make more until you’re not able to peel any more.
There’s also more than one way to create cucumber spirals, too. One technique highlighted in Brit + Co involves a skewer. You start by cutting off both ends of a cucumber and sticking a stick though the middle, length-ways so that it comes out each end. Next, cut slices, only going as far as the stick. Turn the cucumber over and do the same again, this time cutting on a slant. When you take out the stick, you should be left with a springy cucumber coil and a cool garnish or salad ingredient.
Frozen cucumber facial hack
A frozen cucumber beauty hack has gone viral on TikTok. As of April 2022, the hashtag #FrozenCucumber had attracted over 32 million views. The tip involves rubbing a cut, iced cucumber on the face to hydrate the skin. Industry experts have explained to outlets such as Glamour, InStyle, and Refinery29 exactly why cucumber is so good for the skin: Not only does it contain vitamin C and folate acid to reduce inflammation, it also contains anti-aging vitamin K which is good for rejuvenating the epidermis.
With around 96% water, cucumbers hydrate the skin, while frozen ones tighten it. Many TikTokers have tried out the frozen cucumber facial, including @alexaraeloebel who has racked up over 800,000 views with her demonstration. Whether it truly brightens the skin, reduces dark circles under the eyes, and makes you look younger remains to be seen, but an icy cucumber massage certainly wakes up your face.
Smashed cucumber G&T
Gin has been on trend in recent years, and according to a report in IWSR, the U.S. is the biggest importer of British gin. Per Wine Enthusiast, it’s believed that the cocktail first came to be when British servicemen in India mixed their bitter-tasting malaria medicine with sugar and water, creating the tonic part of what’s known as a gin and tonic. No doubt about it, a gin and tonic is a classic, but that doesn’t mean to say it can’t be given a fresh twist with some cucumber.
Of course, you can add thin slithers of cucumber to a gin and tonic. For a flavor kick, Lifehacker recommends muddling the cucumbers into the gin before you pour the tonic. But before you start muddling, Advanced Mixology says to dice up the cucumbers and give them a good press in the glass. A recipe in Taste of Home suggests pepping up your cucumber muddled gin and tonic with some basil, adding some extra herbal essence.
Milk a cucumber to make it less bitter
Have you ever milked a cucumber? While it may sound bizarre, there’s science behind how this method can make the vegetable less bitter. It’s certainly a tip that’s attracted attention online, with TikToker @basicallyperkfect demonstrating how it works. She first cuts the end of the cucumber and rubs this against the other part, so the exposed slices are rubbing together. A milky residue is produced which gets rid of the bitterness.
According to an Oregon State University veggie expert, the bitterness in cucumbers, which is greater if the vegetable grows wild, is caused by a natural substance called cucurbitacin. Apparently, this bitter taste is stronger at the stem of a cucumber and the peel. A vegetable crops expert from the University of Florida suggests peeling the vegetable in strips up to an inch from the stem and cleaning off the blade in between slices to prevent bitterness. Milking a cucumber sounds much more interesting though.
Turn cucumber slices into healthy chips
A fresh cucumber may have some bite, and some crunch, but it’s pretty far away on the culinary scale from a delicious potato chip. Or is it? Culinary creativity is often at its best when you use new ingredients to create new variations on a classic recipe. Take these baked cucumber chips by Low Carb Yum. Not only are these chips low in calories, but you can also add different flavors to them as well, such as salt and vinegar.
While a great, albeit slower, way to make cucumber chips is with a dehydrator, you can also use an oven set at a low temperature and this is the quicker way as well. Essentially all you need are some cucumbers (obviously), plus some sea salt, apple cider vinegar, and some olive oil. Use a mandoline to slice the cucumbers really thin. This is far easier than trying to get the right thickness using a knife. Next, dry the slices with some kitchen towel before tossing them in the oil, salt, and vinegar. Alternatively, you can add salt to the cucumbers so that the moisture is absorbed. Lay the slices out on parchment paper on a baking tray and bake in the oven at 175 degrees Fahrenheit for around two or three hours. You want the chips to crisp up. Cool them down before serving your healthy cucumber chips.
Soothe sunburn with a natural cucumber remedy
Of course, the best way not to be impacted by a sunburn is to protect yourself and do what you can to avoid it altogether. But if you do end up with sore skin after a day out in the sun, you’re probably in need of a cooling balm. Cucumber not only soothes, it’s also a vegetable that’s great for the skin, making it a perfect natural remedy if you’ve overdone it in the sunshine. Per Medicine Net, the anti-inflammatory compounds in cucumbers are great for calming down sunburned, peeling skin. All you have to do to create the sunburn salve? Throw a cucumber in a blender.
If you use cucumbers from the refrigerator then your sunburn paste will be nice and cool, too. Not only will the chilled cuke feel good on inflamed skin, but as Dr Bailey Skincare points out, the cool temperature can cause blood vessels to constrict, not unlike a gentle splash of cool water to the face. HuffPost notes how slices of cucumber can help a sunburn, with vitamins A and C, plus the water, sulfate, and potassium all having a soothing effect on the skin.
Make cucumber juice in a blender
If you’ve ever used a juicer then you’ll know that it can be hard work keeping it clean. However, while you may be persuaded that there’s lots of reasons to keep your juicer, you’re no doubt going to welcome a healthy green elixir that you can make more easily. Welcome to the wonderful world of easy cucumber juice where all you need is a blender. Healthy and full of refreshing nutrients, there are plenty of cucumber juices out there, such as A Couple Cooks‘ recipe which recommends blending cucumber with apple for some sweetness or celery. Other ingredients to add to a simple cucumber juice are ginger, greens, and zesty lemon and lime, while pineapple and pear also complement the flavor.
A top tip is to use an English cucumber instead of a slicing cucumber for this particular recipe. As The Spruce Eats notes, the English cucumber has thinner peel and smaller seeds, so it doesn’t need to be peeled, keeping all that goodness in the juice. A slicing cucumber, on the other hand, has thicker skin and bigger seeds, plus it boasts a more bitter flavor.
To turn a blended cucumber drink that’s thick and mushy into a juice, the key is to use a sieve or suchlike to strain the mixture and separate the pulp from the juice. It’s a drink best served chilled.
Carb-free stuffed cucumber cups
Summer equals an end to stodgy comfort foods over the colder months, and a big hello to picnics with buffet-style servings, sandwiches, barbecues, and al fresco dining. While you can make plenty of nutritious salads, with lots of cucumber in of course, other summer menu dishes can push up the carbs and the calories. The good news is that there are some great cold canapes and snacks that are healthier options, such as ditching the bread and serving tuna in a cucumber cup. A crunchy outside and soft filling, as well as being easy to pick up and eat, stuffed cucumbers are a cool alternative to a sandwich.
Per Carb Manager, cut a cucumber into fourths and carve out the center so you’re left with a hollowed-out cup. Next, make your filling. The recipe suggests mixing tuna and mayonnaise with diced red pepper, cilantro, and the zest of lime, but of course, this can be modified to your liking. Take the filling you’ve whipped up, plop it in the cucumbers, and you have a quick, easy, and tasty snack.
Cool off with cucumber ice cubes
Have you ever had a cucumber that you don’t know what to do with? Or one too many and you don’t want it to go to waste? A helpful tip for storing cucumbers past their season: make cucumber ice. Per Mara Knows, all you need to do is blend cucumber and pour the mixture into ice cube trays and cover with a bag so no bits fall into the compartments. Once frozen, the cucumber cubes can be stored in the freezer in a resealable freezer bag. Next time you’re making a soup or a smoothie, you can add a few cubes to give a fresh cucumber flavor.
You can also make cucumber ice cubes for refreshing drinks. Add cucumber slices to an ice cube tray, fill with water or a mixer, and give them a good freeze. These cubes work well for soft drinks, with mixers, or in cocktails. No matter what you choose, you are sure to enjoy that cucumber taste as the ice cubes melt. There’s lots of ways to experiment with different recipes and cucumber slice ice cube ideas.
Stop cucumber sandwiches from becoming soggy
Quintessentially British, cucumber sandwiches are a delicate, refined slice of Victoriana. Traditionally eaten for afternoon tea, so as to satisfy without ruining the appetite for dinner, there is an art to preparing the perfect snack for a mid-afternoon refreshment served with a pot of tea. The Guardian debates how to make these bite-size, crustless sandwiches with slithers of cucumber without them becoming soggy. One solution is to add salt to them for 20 minutes before peeled slices are added to soft white bread, with butter protecting the bread from any wetness from the cucumbers.
According to the Daily Mail, experts from the American Chemical Society have stated that cucumber sandwiches on whole wheat are the perfect food to eat during warmer months. The high water content in cucumbers is ideal for keeping you hydrated and regulating body temperature, with the grain in the bread a good source of magnesium and calcium helping avoid heat-related cramping. This means crusts on, while the scientists suggested mayonnaise and sea salt to be added as well. (Although whether the British would approve is another matter.) One hack to avoid soggy sandwiches, is to use cream cheese so that it acts as a barrier between the bread and the cucumber. To pep up the cream cheese, Appetizer Addiction suggests adding mayonnaise with soy sauce, mustard, dill, and pepper.
Mix up a cucumber face mask
Healthline recommends making your own homemade face mask with cucumber since it’s so good for the skin. You can create a simple version by blending an unpeeled cucumber and straining it, using the juice on a freshly washed face and the pulp as a mask. Keep this mask on for 15 minutes before rinsing off with warm water and patting your face dry. You can also add aloe vera to the mask, massaging into the skin before leaving on for the same amount of time. A third option might be to throw in some oatmeal as an exfoliator, as well as honey which is also good for dealing with the bacteria on your face. Or if you’d like to go the dairy route, Taste of Home offers a simple yogurt-based cucumber face mask recipe.
Whichever cucumber mask you make, make sure you relax and let the green goodness work its magic. Meanwhile, don’t forget to pop two freshly cut cucumber slices over your closed eyes to complete the spa-like experience. They’ll soothe your eyelids and tighten the skin, giving you a brighter, rejuvenated look. Vitamin C can help your skin look less tired, while other properties can help reduce puffiness. Studies suggest that cucumber not only moisturizes the skin, it also helps boost elasticity.
Keep cucumbers fresh for longer
When they go off they become soft and mushy, but with a bit of practical storing advice you can keep cucumbers fresher longer. For example, an uncut cucumber can last for around a week and is best in the refrigerator. As My Recipes notes, if you’d like to keep out moisture and delay the spoiling process, wrap each of the cucumbers in a paper towel before putting them in a bag. Masterclass suggests putting the cucumbers in the refrigerator door so they stay cool but do not get too cold. As far as individual cucumber slices are concerned, there are several suggestions floating around the internet. You can wrap them in paper towels, line the container with a damp paper towel, or wrap them in plastic wrap. If you’ve got a leftover half of a cucumber that isn’t chopped up, Masterclass says to use plastic wrap.
Another way to store a cucumber and save it from being wasted? Cut it up into sticks and freeze those sticks on a lined pan. Then toss them in a bag and put them in the freezer. According to My Recipes, these frozen cuke sticks should stay good in the freezer for up to six months.