The Simple Coating You Need For Powerfully Crunchy Cucumbers

Cucumber salads are a simple and refreshing side that can be seasoned to suit any meal. But no matter what ingredients you choose to flavor them, one characteristic is essential: Your cucumbers have got to maintain their irresistible crunch until mealtime. But what causes cucumbers to become sad, soggy shadows of their former selves once sliced? And more importantly, how can you preserve their crisp texture, which can make or break a cucumber salad? 

Put simply, the root of this problem is an abundance of moisture within the vegetable that starts to seep out once cut. But there is an easy solution — remove the excess moisture from your cucumbers with salt and sugar before you use them in whatever dish they're intended for. Doing so doesn't take long — you can usually do the salt-soak while you're prepping the rest of your meal. Once the excess moisture has been removed, you'll be able to use cucumbers in a variety of sides and salads that stay crunchy and flavorful for days.

How to extract moisture to keep cucumbers crunchy

One of the reasons fruits and vegetables are so good for us is because they're actually more hydrating than you might think. Not only is the cucumber a great source of fiber and vitamins K and A, but they are also 95% water. But when combined with other ingredients containing salt or sugar, their moisture is slowly expelled through osmosis. This can result in both unappetizingly soft cucumbers and diluted dressings.

To avoid these issues, we have to give the cucumbers a chance to quickly expel their liquid before combining them with other ingredients. So grab your salt and sugar – for one English cucumber, ½ tablespoon salt and ½ teaspoon of sugar is the ration you're looking for — sprinkle over your sliced cucumbers, and allow them time to release their moisture. After 30 minutes, you'll begin to see a liquid leaving softer vegetables, but firmer vegetables like cucumber and cabbage can use at least an hour to complete the osmosis process. The longer they soak in their salty rub, the more water will drain. Then rinse the cukes with water to remove any remaining salt and sugar, pat them dry, and continue with your desired recipe!

Delicious ways to use cucumbers after draining

With the excess moisture removed from your cucumbers, you'll be able to incorporate them into a wide range of flavorful dressings without the worry of diluting them. Enjoy a classic American side for picnics and potlucks, like the traditional creamy cucumber-dill salad or an herby three-bean salad that depends so heavily on the crunch of fresh vegetables. 

This method also works fantastically for the viral Korean spicy cucumber salad you may have seen on social media, or even on top of a fresh poke bowl, paired with tuna, edamame, and spicy peppers. Because these simple recipes rely heavily on the intense flavors of their marinades absorbing into the cucumbers, ensuring you remove as much unnecessary water from your cucumbers in advance will be the difference between deliciousness and mediocrity. It may not seem important, but a little extra time and effort before you dive into the recipe will give you a huge payoff in your finished dish.