To Force Cucumbers

This unusual recipe uses the cucumber in a way that is a clear departure from modern practice. In the eighteenth century, vegetables were generally cooked or pickled, as opposed to eaten raw. Here, the cucumber is stuffed, stewed and sliced, along with being stitched with thread. The result is quite pleasant.

18th Century

Pare your Cucumbers, core out the Seed, and then force them with a light Force-meat, and stove them in Broth or Gravy. When they are tender, cut two in Slices, and let the other be whole; squeeze in a lemon, and serve them.

“Adam’s Luxury and Eve’s Cookery”

21st Century

  • 3 medium cucumbers (about 8 inches long)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup onions, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley, thyme, basil and/or sage (choose any or all of these)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 quart broth (chicken or beef)
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  1. Pare (or peel) your cucumbers with a vegetable peeler. Slice off about 1 to 1 ½ inches from one end of each cucumber. With a long, thin knife gently scoop out the seeds from the center of the cucumber. Discard the seeds and set the cucumbers aside on a plate.
  2. Prepare the forcemeat by combining the bread crumbs, onions, herbs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix thoroughly. In another, smaller bowl whip the egg with a whisk. Add the broth and melted butter to the egg and whisk it thoroughly. Add the egg mixture to the crumb mixture and blend everything together very well.
  3. Using your finger, stuff the cucumbers with bits of forcemeat until they are filled to about a half inch from the top of the opening. Take a long needle and some thick thread and gently stitch on the end of the cucumber.
  4. Place the cucumbers in a stew pan and just cover them with broth. Cook over a medium to medium-high heat till they are soft but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Turn them at least once during the cooking process.
  5. Once cooked, take the cucumbers out and plate them. Snip and gently remove the threads. Leave the center cucumber whole, and slice the flanking two cucumbers into ¾ inch slices. This allows the forcemeat to show and accent the whole one. Squeeze lemon juice over all and serve.

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10 Responses to “To Force Cucumbers”

  1. February 23rd, 2012

    Christine Hansley says:

    Hi Frank and Cooking Crew,

    In reading the recipe, the broth was mixed with the bread crumbs etc. Then the cucumbers were covered with broth. How much of the quart should we use with the bread crumbs, to leave enough for the simmring? Or did I miss something? Which broth did you use Chicken or Beef?

    Please keep these recipes coming.
    Have a great Srping,

    • February 23rd, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      The broth in the stuffing is just enough to get the stuffing to bind together, half a cup should be plenty. The period preference would be for a beef or veal stock — there are far more references to these than chicken broth.

      -Frank Clark

  2. February 23rd, 2012

    Lisa says:

    I am starting to “pin” these recipes on Pinterest, and other folks may be doing the same thing. It’s a great way to share them.

  3. February 26th, 2012

    Dan Macey says:

    Where’s the beef — or pork or chicken? I thought force implied that some kind of meat is mixed with fat and herbs and stuffed into something. Am I wrong?

  4. March 19th, 2012

    Wyandotte says:

    Thank you muchly for this unusual recipe. Where I live, we don’t start gardening till early May, so I’ll have to wait for some decent cukes. For sure I am going to try this!

    It doesn’t bother me that there’s no meat in this. Bread crumbs, herbs & onions is poor folks’ food and that suits me fine.

  5. March 25th, 2012

    Lady Anne says:

    Great to find some historically correct vegetarian food! This is delicious.

  6. September 15th, 2012

    Linus says:

    Not strictly vegetarian unless you used vegetable broth rather than the beef or veal recommended

  7. January 20th, 2013

    Helen Robison FitzGerald says:

    Hello all,
    This receipt is a lot easier than it reads! Not having any kitchen maids about me to assist in sewing a cucumber (a doubtful enterprise at best) I cut the cucumbers saw-tooth fashion so when back together they could not slip around widthwise. Toothpicks secured the lengthwise connection. For a control I did one plain sliced – it was okay but pulled apart in the middle about 1/4 inch which would be hard to hid if not sliced.

    Very good – including cold. I could see whipping up some cream cheese and dill to pipet on top and serve as a sort of inside-out cucumber sandwich.

    Attached is a picture in an unconventional unsliced version. Sliced worked well too.

    Best always,

  8. December 21st, 2013

    Lani Tucker says:

    I have done something like this with out cooking. I cut the cukes in half the long way. Scooped out the seeds. put in a filling of deviled ham and cream cheese. Put the two halves back together. Then sliced them.

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