Keeping your Body Cool (Water-Rich Foods): CUCUMBER

Updated: Jul 13



Cool as a Cucumber


When I think of the phrase, "fresh of the vine", I immediately consider the cucumber. There's a reason cucumbers are known for being cool.


Quick Facts

Hydration: 96% water by weight


Nutrition:

  • water is the most abundant nutrient, followed by trace amounts of protein, some fiber and carbohydrates, calcium, and iron

  • Fat free and saturated fat free

  • sodium free

  • cholesterol free

  • low calorie (less than 1 calorie per small slice); 1 cup = 13 calories

  • good source of vitamin C

  • small amount of beta carotene (Vitamin A) in the peel

  • Fiber and Vitamin A are lost by peeling

In Season: Summer


A Brief History

The cucumber is a native of India, and antique records and art have referenced it, as early as 3000 BCE. One Roman emperor even had greenhouses erected to satisfy his year-round appetite. Many rulers throughout the ages have had cucumbers planted in the royal gardens and estates.


Columbus brought cucumber seeds to the Americas during his voyages in the 1400s. One fun fact: the expression "cool as a cucumber" was coined in the 18th century by the British poet John Gay. Today, its several varieties in the marketplace make it an ideal companion for many beverages and dishes.


How To


Pick a good one

A cucumber that is firm, shaped well, and dark green in color is generally a good pick. It should also seem somewhat heavy for its size to ensure that it adds the variety and texture you desire to your dish. The best cucumbers are slender and dark green.


When collecting farmer's market cucumbers, look for those that have been kept cool or in shaded areas. Supermarket cucumbers should be stored in a cool case. In any case, avoid cucumbers that show signs of withering or shriveling, as well as those that have bulges in the middle of the vegetable. Of course, avoid purchasing cucumbers that have decay, indicated by dark spots and bruises.


Store

  • in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, up to 1 week

  • unpeeled from the garden or market, in your refrigerator's crisper

  • un-waxed, store-purchased cucumbers will not keep as long as cucumbers that have been post-harvest treated with a wax coating

Wash

  • peel wax if post-harvest treatment has been applied

  • wash and cut (be sure to wash hands and cutting board before slicing)


Eat

  • slice 'em

  • add them to a salad or sandwich

  • pickle them

  • as a delicate complement to meat dishes

  • simply seasoned with herbs (even salt and pepper tastes great, bit lemon, dill, tarragon, or mint can lend add some extra flavor)

  • with homemade hummus or dip

  • boiled into a soup or broth

  • in a coleslaw

  • add them to a pasta salad for some crunch

  • add them to a wrap or pita

  • not recommended for canning, freezing, or dehydrating

The warm soil of spring produces this incredible summer vegetable that adds a crisp and crunch to any summer salad. Adding cucumbers to your delectable dishes can easily make them a summer sensation.


REFERENCES

  1. USDA SNAPEd Connection. Cucumbers. US Dept of Agriculture. Accessed 2020. Accessed at https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/cucumbers

  2. Have A Plant (Fruits and Veggies for Better Health). Cucumbers: Nutrition. Selection. Storage. Recipes. Produce for Better Health Foundation. Accessed 2020. Accessed at https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/cucumbers.

  3. FoodPrint. Real Food Encyclopedia | Melons. Grace Communications Foundation. 2020. Accessed at https://foodprint.org/real-food/cucumbers/.

  4. Gordan B. How Much Water Do You Need. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Accessed at https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/how-much-water-do-you-need

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