As cool as a cucumber

Description
The cucumber is a very old plant, and has been consumed by humans from ancient times. It comes from the gourd family which also includes squash and muskmelon. It is called by many names like Concombre in French, Komkommer in dutch to name a few. This fruit is cylindrical in shape, and has long tapering ends. It grows to as long as about 60 cm, but has a diameter of only around 10cm.

Cucumber which is also known as Cuke in English is grown in two different reasons. Those which are to be eaten while fresh are called slicers, whereas those which are used for pickling are known as picklers. Usually, the cucumbers are eaten when they are green and not yet ripe. This is sweet in taste. As soon as the cucumber becomes ripe, it becomes yellow in color, and is very bitter and sour. Scientifically speaking, cucumbers are fruits. However, just like many other similar vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber can be prepared and consumed just like vegetables. Cucumbers have various varieties and hybrids. Some which are usually grown inside greenhouses are completely seedless, and longer than the normal cucumbers.

Buying tips
Cucumbers/ Gurkes/Pepinos are a species which are highly heat-sensitive. Thus, you should always go to the refrigerated section of the market to buy your cucumber. When you are picking the cucumber, make sure that they have well-rounded edges and they should be strong and firm. Also, go for the green unripe ones. Avoid those which are turning yellow, as these are slowly ripening. Also, avoid those which are water-soaked or puffy. The skin should be smooth, and should not have any bumps or wrinkles on it. Generally, the cucumber is covered by wax. However, you should try to purchase those with no such wax covering, as then you can consume the cucumber skin which is rich in nutrients, without the intake of toxic chemicals into your body.

Culinary usage
Usually, before the cucumber or Cuke is cooked, it has to be washed properly. If the cucumber is waxed, then it has to be peeled before consumption. However, if it is not waxed, then the skin can also be eaten, as it is rich in nutrients. The seeds are edible, but most people throw them away. To separate the seeds out, the best way is to cut the cucumber longitudinally and then scoop out the seeds with the help of a spoon. Some common culinary usages are:

  1. Cucumbers are very popularly used in salads. It is an ingredient of almost all kinds of salads. Generally, the cucumber is cut into almost half-inch sized slices and then added to these salads along with other vegetables.
  2. The phrase “as cool as a cucumber” shows how cool it is, and is an excellent refresher for your body in the warm summer months. This is also the season for cucumbers, when it is most healthy and fresh.
  3. It is also used in many kinds of soups, especially the gazpacho soup. It is added to tomatoes, onions, green pepper and salt.
  4. Cucumbers can also be diced or blanched or sliced or chopped into small pieces or cubes. Diced cucumbers can be added to sugary snap peas along with mint leaves. Then it is served with rice wine vinaigrette.
  5. It is also used in many types of fish and chicken recipes, especially with the tuna fish.

Storage
Store the cucumber or Cuke in the refrigerator. It can be kept there for quite some time without it losing its freshness. If you have cut the cucumber and not consumed the whole, then keep the remaining portion wrapped in a plastic or kept inside a sealed container inside the refrigerator to keep it fresh and not get dehydrated. As goes for most vegetables, the sooner you consume it, the fresher it will be. Also, avoid keeping cucumbers at normal room temperature or in the heat, as it quickly loses its water and becomes limp.

Medicinal values
Cucumber has high water content, but it also has a large number of minerals and vitamins. The skin of the cucumber is especially rich in nutrients. That is why it is advised to buy those cucumbers which are not waxed, so that the skin can also be consumed. Some of the health benefits of consuming cucumber are:

  1. Apart from water, the flesh also contains ascorbic acid (a rich source of Vitamin C), as well as caffeic acid. Both of these help in curing any types of skin irritations, as well as reduce swelling on the skin.
  2. It has a rich fiber content, which helps in relieving any sort of digestive problems. It also cures constipation and cleanses your body. One of the main problems faced by Americans is that fiber content is very low in their diet. Thus, cucumber helps in supplying fiber in required quantities.
  3. Apart from a rich water and fiber content, it also has many vital minerals like potassium, magnesium and silica, all of which is required by our body. The silica is very important for the proper functioning of our muscles and ligaments, as well as other connective tissues like cartilage, tendons and bones. Cucumber juice is both refreshing and also a very important source of silica for our body. The high water content of cucumber also makes our body naturally hydrating. This is a must for glowing skin.
  4. Cucumbers are often used to treat diseases like swelling of eyes, dermatitis or burns.
  5. Research has shown that the consumption of potassium, magnesium and fiber-rich compounds has resulted in lowering of blood pressure. Thus, it is prescribed for patients with high blood pressure.

Where to buy cucumbers in US
Cucumbers or Cukes as are grown all across USA. However, Florida dominates production. However, in summer the productions are low. Other states like Virginia, New Jersey and New York also grow cucumbers.

Nutritional and Dietary Information
Cucumber is very rich in nutrients, and contains:

  1. Vitamins like Vitamin C, Vitamin A.
  2. Minerals like manganese, potassium, molybdenum and magnesium.
  3. Folate, dietary fiber and tryptophan.

Thus, from all the above facts, we can conclude that cucumber is a very nutritious vegetable, and also refreshes you in the warm summer months. It provides water to your body along with other nutrients.

Nutrition Facts
Servings Size 1/2 cup 52g
Potassium 2%
Total Carbohydrate 1%
Dietary Fiber 1%
Vitamin A 1%
Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 1%
Iron 1%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because it has not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

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Comments

  1. Nice blog and great info.

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