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August 20, 2009

Cooling Lemonade with a Secret Ingredient

It’s time for another exciting round of Guess That Food. I picked up these lightweight, baseball-sized beauties at Tuesday’s farmers’ market. Their fragile yellow skin is covered in prickly knobs.

Need another hint?

Seeds mean fruit, but because of its neutral flavor, this mystery food is often used as a vegetable in salads and sandwiches. We’re going to put them in lemonade.

Give up?

You’re looking at lemon cucumbers, delicate cousins of the gherkin and the garden cuke. They are similar to lemons only in appearance; like other cucumbers, they have a mild, cooling flavor. A hint sweeter than green cucumbers, they pair well with lemons for a refreshing summer drink.

No need to peel lemon cucumbers before use, their skin is thin and soft. Just wash them and gently scrub off any pointy bits before slicing. Lemon cucumbers are impossible to find in grocery stores: moisture evaporates through their delicate skin, and they quickly become soft and shriveled. If you can’t find any at your farm stand, you can substitute a peeled, medium-sized garden cucumber for two lemon cucumbers, you’ll just get green lemonade.

Cool as a Cucumber Lemonade

For each 8-ounce serving, you’ll need:
1 lemon cucumber, quartered
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup ice water
3-4 Tablespoons sugar

Place cucumber, lemon juice, water, and 3 Tablespoons of sugar in a blender. Blend at high speed for 30 seconds to thoroughly combine. Taste and add more sugar if desired.

Best when chilled before serving, and even better the next day.

Mary Lake is a writer, teacher, columnist for MF&L, and vegetarian blogger: Mitten Machen.

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