Updated: Jul 13, 2020
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.
Hydration: 96% water by weight
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
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.
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.
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
peel wax if post-harvest treatment has been applied
wash and cut (be sure to wash hands and cutting board before slicing)
add them to a salad or sandwich
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.
USDA SNAPEd Connection. Cucumbers. US Dept of Agriculture. Accessed 2020. Accessed at https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/cucumbers
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.
FoodPrint. Real Food Encyclopedia | Melons. Grace Communications Foundation. 2020. Accessed at https://foodprint.org/real-food/cucumbers/.
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