Cucumber –

Scientific Name and Common Name
Cucumis sativus
Cucumber

About

cucumber plants, fruit and flowers[From wikipedia.org]  Cucumber is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, which includes squash, and in the same genus as the muskmelon. Cucumbers grown to be eaten fresh (called slicers) and those intended for pickling (called picklers) are similar. Cucumbers are usually over 90% water.  Cucumbers originated in India. Large genetic variety of cucumber has been observed in different parts of India. It has been cultivated for at least 3,000 years in Western Asia, and was probably introduced to other parts of Europe by the Romans. Records of cucumber cultivation appear in France in the 9th century, England in the 14th century, and in North America by the mid-16th century.

Nutritional Information

Cucumber, with peel, rawNutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)Energy65 kJ (16 kcal)Carbohydrates3.63 gSugars1.67 gDietary fiber0.5 gFat0.11 gProtein0.65 gThiamine (Vit. B1)0.027 mg (2%)Riboflavin (Vit. B2)0.033 mg (2%)Niacin (Vit. B3)0.098 mg (1%)Pantothenic acid (B5)0.259 mg (5%)Vitamin B60.040 mg (3%)Folate (Vit. B9)7 μg (2%)Vitamin C2.8 mg (5%)Calcium16 mg (2%)Iron0.28 mg (2%)Magnesium13 mg (4%)Phosphorus24 mg (3%)Potassium147 mg (3%)Zinc0.20 mg (2%)Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.Source: USDA Nutrient database

Cultural Information

The cucumber is a creeping vine that roots in the ground and grows up trellises or other supporting frames, wrapping around ribbing with thin, spiraling tendrils. The plant has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruit. The fruit is roughly cylindrical, elongated, with tapered ends, and may be as large as 60 cm long and 10 cm in diameter. Having an enclosed seed and developing from a flower, botanically speaking, cucumbers are classified as fruits. However, much like tomatoes and squash they are usually perceived, prepared and eaten as vegetables. Cucumbers in grocery stores are often waxed with a food-grade wax. It is edible but one of the main concerns with wax is not the wax itself, but what got sealed under the wax, such as pesticides, that you can’t remove by washing once the wax is on top of it. Peeling off waxy skin removes it. The best option really is to buy local, in season vegetables from a local farm.  Those usually aren’t waxed since the vegetables don’t have to withstand a long trip to a supermarket.

Uses and Cooking Tips

Cucumbers can be pickled for flavor and longer shelf life. As compared to eating cucumbers, pickling cucumbers tend to be shorter, thicker, less regularly-shaped, and have bumpy skin with tiny white- or black-dotted spines. They are never waxed. Color can vary from creamy yellow to pale or dark green. Pickling cucumbers are sometimes sold fresh as “Kirby” or “Liberty” cucumbers. The pickling process removes or degrades much of the nutrient content, especially that of vitamin C. Pickled cucumbers are soaked in brine or a combination of vinegar and brine, although not vinegar alone, often along with various spices. Slicing and Burpless cucumbers are for plain eating fresh.

sliced and whole cucumbers

Slicing cucumbers are mainly eaten in the unripe green form, since the ripe yellow form normally becomes bitter and sour. Slicers grown commercially for the North American market are generally longer, smoother, more uniform in color, and have a much tougher skin. Slicers in other countries are smaller and have a thinner, more delicate skin. Smaller slicing cucumbers can also be pickled.

Burpless cucumbers are sweeter and have a thinner skin than other varieties of cucumber, and are reputed to be easy to digest and to have a pleasant taste. They can grow as long as 2 feet (0.61 m). They are nearly seedless, and have a delicate skin. Most commonly grown in greenhouses, these parthenocarpic cucumbers are often found in grocery markets, shrink-wrapped in plastic. They are sometimes marketed as seedless or burpless, because the seeds and skin of other varieties of cucumbers are said to give some people gas.

There appears to be variability in the human olfactory response to cucumbers, with the majority of people reporting a mild, almost lemony watery flavor or a light melon taste, while a small but vocal minority report a highly repugnant taste, some say almost perfume-like. Cucumbers vary in bitterness, even from the same plant. This bitter taste is attributed to the chemical compound Cucurbitacin c . Cucurbitacin is poisonous to livestock, especially sheep.

Recipes

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Dill from  Eat Greens

  • 3 1/2 pounds cucumbers (5-6 medium), peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 8-9 cups chicken/vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • chopped fresh dill for garnish
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced, for garnish
  1. In a stockpot or large saucepan, combine the cucumbers, onion, vinegar, and dill. Add the stock and bring to a boil, stirring, over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for about 30 minutes, until cucumbers are very soft. Set aside to cool until barely warm.
  2. Puree’ the soup in a food processor or blender. If using a blender, do in batches. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Spoon about 2 Tbsp of the yogurt into each of six shallow, chilled soup bowls. Adjust the seasonings in the soup and then ladle over the yogurt. Garnish with the dill and cucumber slices and serve.

 

Cucumber Marinade

Fennel Cucumber Salsa

Marinated Cucumber Tomato Salad