Hundred-year-old Tomato and Cucumber Salad Recipe

I love all the fresh summer produce at the farmer’s market. Two of my favorites are tomatoes and cucumbers, so when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Tomato and Cumber Salad I knew that I had to give it a try.

The salad  was delightful, and had a light vinaigrette dressing that enhanced the sliced vegetables.

Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)

Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)
Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)

When I made this recipe, I halved it and I still had more dressing than I needed. Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 large cucumber

2 tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons apply cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 tablespoon onion, grated

Slice the tomatoes, and pare the cucumbers with a regular knife and then slice (using a fluted knife if desired). Arrange the sliced cucumbers and tomatoes in a serving dish. Set aside.

To make the dressing, put the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and grated onion in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly and then pour the desired amount over the tomatoes and onions.

Extra dressing may be refrigerated and kept for several days.

My fluted cucumbers didn’t look like the ones in the old photo. Maybe they used a different type of knife.

Old-fashioned Fried Cucumbers Recipe

 

Fried Cucumbers 2

I had a problem – too many cucumbers to eat in salads, but not enough to make pickles. This sent me searching through my hundred-year-old cookbooks for cucumber recipes. One cookbook suggested dipping cucumber spears into a batter and then frying them. I decided to give it a try.

The Fried Cucumbers were delicious and easy to make with a lovely crispy coating and a delightful slight  crunch when I bit into them. They are versatile, and make a great appetizer or side dish. Fried Cucumbers would be lovely with a dipping sauce – though it definitely is not needed.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fried Cucumbers

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

3-5 medium cucumbers (number needed depends upon size)

shortening or oil

Prepare a batter by combining the flour, salt, eggs, and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat until combined.

Cut the cucumbers into spears that are approximately 1-inch wide.  Dip the spears in the batter.

Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or oil in a large frying pan. Carefully place the breaded spears in the pan in a single layer. Depending upon pan size, the spears may need to be cooked in several batches. Fry for about a minute or until the bottom side of each cucumber spear is lightly browned, then gently turn and fry until the other side is browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

And, here is the description in the old cookbook about how to prepare cucumbers. I didn’t try the suggestion for boiling and mashing them (there’s always another day), and just followed the instructions in the last paragraph about frying them.

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Old-Time Cucumbers and Onions Recipe

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, August 15, 1911: Went to Watsontown this afternoon to get some nick-knacks to take to the picnic. Makes me to mad Carrie isn’t going after all our planning. I have a presentiment that perhaps no one will be there except its originator, but the morrow alone can tell.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

What could nick-knacks for a picnic have been? . . . Crepe paper? . . . paper nut cups? Neither of these items seems exactly like a nick-knack or right for a picnic, and they may not have even existed a hundred years ago.

Why isn’t Grandma’s friend Carrie Stout going to come? Carrie had been involved in the planning since the very beginning. Did Grandma and Carrie have a disagreement? Was Carrie grounded for some reason?

I wonder if Grandma had begun to makes foods for the picnic. An excellent old-time food for a picnic in August is Cucumbers and Onions.

Cucumbers and Onions

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

2 cups cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced

1 cup onion, sliced

Stir together the vinegar, sugar, and water in a large bowl. Add cucumber and onion; gently stir to coat vegetables with liquid. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

This is one of my favorite old recipes. I frequently make Cucumbers and Onions during the late summer and early fall. The vinegar, sugar, and water are in a 1:1:1 proportion—and, depending upon how many cucumbers and onions I have, I will vary the amount of syrup that I mix up. The liquid should almost cover the vegetables. (Many old recipes are based on easy to remember proportions and were never written down.)

It is okay if there is a layer or so of the sliced cucumbers and onions above the liquid because after a few hours the amount of liquid will increase as some of the liquid comes out of the vegetables.