There are some garden plants that any new gardener realizes (after it’s too late) that if successfully grown, you will be completely buried in produce. Yes, there can be too much of a good thing… or maybe not!
Anyone who has grown cucumbers before will readily understand this dilemma. Cucumbers can be prolific producers of fruits (yes, they are a fruit), but there really aren’t a whole lot of recipes that utilize them. Salads are often an easy go-to, as are pickles, and of course I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention that Greek summer staple of tzatziki. But even so, that’s a pretty narrow assortment of options.
As it turns out, cucumbers are perfectly suited to being dehydrated. What the heck would you do with dried cucumbers? Eat them, of course! Depending on how thick they are cut they can turn out somewhat crispy to a little chewy (in a good way), and are a tasty and healthy alternative to regular chips. Served alongside a creamy dip (meh, who needs healthy!) they are a really nice snack. However, what if you forgo bothering with making the dip separate and just put it all together in one package? Now you’re talking.
In this case, cucumber slices are dipped in a tzatziki “batter” and laid on dehydrator trays for drying. The end result is a flavorful and yes, healthy snack that can be stored away for enjoying long after the cucumber season is over. Each bite will remind you of all that is good about summer, while helping get you through your harvest glut. After all, how many pickles do you really need, anyway? Scratch that, we actually love pickles!
Some quick notes before you begin:
If you are growing your own cucumbers, be sure to use varieties that are meant for fresh eating. Pickling cucumbers often have issues with bitterness, especially near the stem and blossom ends, and are also tougher in texture (which is why they are good for pickling since they will hold up better during processing or fermenting).
Unless you are dealing with a thin skinned variety of cucumber, like Armenian cucumbers, you will want to peel your cukes first. The skin will toughen during drying and make for tough eating. By the way, save those skins for the compost!
You should make a single batch at a time because moisture from the cucumbers will quickly come out as they sit in the yogurt mixture and cause it to become too runny. This means it will be harder to get your cucumbers covered.
If you have any of the yogurt mixture left over, it makes a wonderful salad dressing or dip for fresh veggies (or yes, potato chips!). Just keep it refrigerated and use within a couple of days.
Technically, you don’t need a dehydrator to make this, but given the fact that dairy is involved, I highly recommend that you have one in order to dehydrate properly. The other option is to use your oven, like how I described in my fruit leather recipe, but the method may not be the most welcome in summer when cucumbers are grown (hot kitchens are not desirable when it’s over 100 F outside).
Tzatziki Flavored Cucumber Chips Recipe
Mix all the ingredients other than the cucumbers together in a large bowl. Set the bowl aside while you prepare your cucumbers.
Once your cucumbers are ready, place them all in the bowl and gently toss them in the yogurt mixture to ensure that all pieces are coated.
Place each slice on a dehydrator tray. Don’t shake off the yogurt mixture or let it drip off the cucumber slices! As you remove each slice from the bowl, allow some of the yogurt mixture to pool up on the top to ensure that each one will have a lot of tzatziki flavor. The mixture shouldn’t drip through the mesh on your dehydrator tray so don’t worry about it too much.
Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for drying cucumbers. If those aren’t listed, it will be the same as drying zucchini. Depending on the thickness of your slices and the variety of cucumber used, you will either have a crispy chip or somewhat leathery result. Both are fine.
Once dried, remove them from the trays and pack into an airtight container. They will last a long time, but if you make a lot and want to keep them in their best condition, store them in an airtight container in the freezer. Remove what you wish to consume and allow them to come to room temperature, leaving the rest in the freezer each time. Enjoy!