A green fruit that is comprised of mostly water. Cucumbers have a refreshing flavor and crisp texture. They make excellent salads, drinks, soups and beauty products.
A very good source of vitamins C, K and potassium.
The fruit is roughly cylindrical, elongated, with tapered ends, and may be as large as 60 cm long and 10 cm in diameter. Cucumbers grown to be eaten fresh (called slicers) and those intended for pickling (called picklers) are similar. Cucumbers are mainly eaten in the unripe green form. The ripe yellow form normally becomes too bitter and sour. Cucumbers are usually over 90% water.
Selecting and Buying
Look for firm cucumbers, without blemishes or soft spots. Most grocery stores either wax cucumbers or enclose them in plastic to help them retain their moisture and keep longer; un-waxed varieties can be found at some co-ops, natural food stores, and farmers markets.
Preparation and Use
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
In most cases the entire cucumber can be peeled and eaten. The peels are mostly edible, but can sometimes be bitter. There are several varieties that it is not necessary to peel.
Conserving and Storing
How to Store Cucumbers
Cucumbers are a fruit that are long and cylindrical with a mild edible dark green skin and seeds. They are grown between May and August and are eaten raw, in salads or used to make pickles. English cucumbers can grow up to two feet long but the smaller cucumbers make better pickles. Cucumbers can be stored in the refrigerator if the following steps are followed.
Wash the cucumber off. Cucumbers are grown in the ground, and are covered with dirt and chemicals that need to be cleaned off.
Lay the cucumber on the top shelf. This is the warmest part of the refrigerator and the best place to store cucumbers. You can also place them in a bowl and set in them refrigerator.
Keep cucumbers away from apples, pears or other fruits that have ethylene. This makes the cucumber taste bad.
Leave the cucumbers in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat them.
Cucumbers can usually be kept 10 to 14 days at 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Choose firm cucumbers that have a smooth, bright dark green skin. Make sure there are no bumps or bruises on the cucumber.
Cucumbers are chill sensitive and do not like temperatures below 10º C (50º F).
Do not place cucumbers in the bottom crisper keeper or the bottom drawers of the refrigerator. Doing so will allow ice crystals to form inside the cucumber, thus making the cucumber soggy.