The cucumber is believed native to India, and evidence indicates that it has been cultivated in western Asia for 3,000 years.
From India it spread to Greece and Italy, where the Romans were especially fond of the crop, and later into China. It was probably introduced into other parts of Europe by the Romans, and 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.
Cucumbers belong to the same botanical family as melons, including watermelon, cantaloupe and squash, including summer squash, winter squash, zucchini and pumpkin. The scientific name for cucumbers is Cucumis sativus.
Cucumbers are a good source of:
Store cucumbers in plastic to protect them and maintain their natural moisture. Store in a refrigerator crisper or in a cool environment.
Fresh extracts from cucumbers have recently been show to have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. While research in this area must still be considered preliminary - it's only been conducted on animals in a lab setting - the findings are clear and consistent.
The green color of cucumbers indicates it is a great source of chlorophyll which is a valuable phytonutrient.
Pickles are made from cucumbers. According to the pickle industry over 5 million pounds of pickles are consumed daily.
Pickling cucumbers include all varieties that are cultivated for processing into pickles. In the United States, commonly planted varieties of pickling cucumber include Royal, Calypso, Pioneer, Bounty, Regal, Duke, and Blitz.
Pickling can be used for many different foods. It is not limited to cucumbers and or even to the vegetable food group. In general, the word "pickling" refers to a method of preventing food spoilage that involves soaking in a liquid and/or fermenting.
Quick Ideas for Your Cucumbers
- Slice cucumbers into half-inch thick pieces to use in chopped vegetable salad.
- Mix diced cucumbers with sugar snap peas and Mint Leaves; toss with Rioja Red Wine Vinaigrette.
- Puree cucumbers with tomatoes, green peppers and onions. Salt and pepper to taste - you have a refreshing cold gazpacho in five minutes!
- Dice cucumbers to add to tuna fish or chicken salad.
Cucumber Cosmetics: Eye Masks
Cucumbers have been used for centuries as a way for skin-nourishing nutrients to penetrate the upper dermal layers and improve overall skin complexion, especially underneath the eyes. Placing thinly sliced cucumbers over the eyes for an hour can do far more for your skin than many expensive chemically laden beauty products.
Ulysses S. Grant, soldier and U.S. President, was so passionate about cucumbers that he often made a complete meal of nothing but sliced cucumbers and coffee.
Marinated Cucumbers Recipe Card
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