A Cucumber Experiment (Peirama Me Aggouri)
When I make tzatziki, sometimes I drain the cucumbers, sometimes I don’t. I know I’m supposed to, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference. I’ve sometimes wondered if perhaps my practice of removing the seeds has the side effect of making the pulp less watery. I’ve also noticed that many recipes call for the cucumber to be grated, and I’ve wondered if perhaps grated cucumber releases more water and maybe that’s why everybody says you have to drain the cucumber.
Well, last week I was making a double batch of tzatziki to bring to a party, which required the use of two cucumbers. I decided that this was enough cucumber to do an experiment with. After peeling the cucumbers, I cut each in half, giving me four cucumber halves which I prepared in four ways. One was seeded and diced, one was diced with the seeds, one was seeded and grated, and one was grated with the seeds. I weighed each of these, then tossed each with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and left them to drain overnight. The next morning I measured the amount of liquid each had released. For a more accurate comparison, since the cucumber amounts were unequal, I also reweighed each batch. My findings are summarized in the table below.
|Type of Prep||Undrained Weight||Drained Weight||Percent of Weight Lost|
|Seeded, Diced||79 g||64 g||19%|
|Diced with Seeds||98 g||88 g||10%|
|Seeded, Grated||92 g||66 g||28%|
|Grated with Seeds||91 g||64 g||30%|
From this small amount of data I cannot draw any conclusion as to the effect of seeding the cucumber. Clearly the grated cucumber releases significantly more liquid than diced cucumber. By the way, Zoe is adamantly opposed to grating cucumber for tzatziki as it tends to get lost. I told her I had to do it as a service to humanity and science. There was of course nothing she could say to that. Anyway, I would conclude that if you like to grate the cucumber, it’s a bit more important to drain it than it is if you dice the cucumber.
Stepping back from the cucumber to take a look at the big picture, keep in mind that the goal of all this draining is to produce tzatziki that is rich and creamy, rather than watery with weeping fluids. Even with an overnight drain, which is longer than I’ve ever bothered draining cucumber, each grated half-cucumber released only about one tablespoon of liquid, each diced half-cucumber released even less. In total, the cucumber released less than 1/4 cup of liquid. Meanwhile, in draining the yogurt overnight, I obtained almost 3 cups of liquid.
It is imperative to use drained yogurt for creamy tzatziki. Draining the cucumber is not so important, although if you choose to grate the cucumber it is probably worth your while to drain it as well.
Learn how to drain yogurt.