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Cucumbers are a Cool Summer Vegetable

What vegetable is cooler on the inside than the outside temperature? Cucumbers! Cool!

Nashville, Ark. – If you have a garden this summer, chances are you have cucumbers in abundance. Summer and cucumbers just seem to go together. They are a great summer vegetable because they are so cool! Literally, they are a great way to add “coolness” to summer salads.

            Cucumbers are great to eat. The are cool and crisp. In fact, a cucumber can be 20 degrees cooler on the inside that the outside temperature. Cucumbers grow on vines in the garden. Most home gardeners love to eat them right off the vine or in pickles.

            Cucumbers are nutritious. They provide potassium, vitamin K, magnesium and fiber. Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure, vitamin K and magnesium help build and maintain strong bones, and fiber helps control cholesterol and keeps you regular. Most of the nutrients in a cucumber are found in the skin, so keeping the skins on will boost nutrient value of your meal. If you grow your own cucumbers eating the skin is no problem. Many of the cucumbers found in the grocery store have a waxy film on them that should be removed before eating them.

            When choosing cucumbers, choose those which are firm, green and slender. Avoid those with soft spots or wrinkled skin. Store unwashed cucumbers in a moisture-proof bag in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

            To use them, wipe off any visible dirt. Then rinse the cucumbers well under cool running water and scrub the outer layer well before eating or using in recipes. Scrubbing not only removes dirt, it also helps remove germs including the coronavirus. If you choose to peel, use a vegetable peeler. You may want to remove the seeds of older cucumbers since they can become bitter. Seeds are easily removed by slicing the cucumber lengthwise and scooping out the seeds with a spoon.

            Cucumbers are best eaten raw or barely cooked. They can be eaten plain as a snack or an appetizer and sliced or chopped in salads. They are a great snack food dipped in low-fat dressing. Try adding cucumbers to sandwiches for extra crunch and flavor.

            A one-half cup of fresh cucumber with the peel contains only 10 calories due to their high water content. They have zero fat, sodium or protein, and contain only 2 grams carbohydrates.

            Another way to enjoy cucumbers is in pickles. If you enjoy making pickles, there a few things to keep in mind. Not all cucumbers are created equal. Always use a pickling variety of cucumber. You will not get good results from “slicing” or “table” cucumbers. If you buy cucumbers, select unwaxed ones, because pickling brine or solution cannot penetrate the wax.

            The size of the cucumber is also a consideration when making home pickles. 1½ -in. cucumbers are used for making gherkins. 4-inch long cucumbers are used for dill pickles. Odd-shaped and more mature cucumbers should be used for relishes and bread-and-butter pickles. When making pickles or preserving foods at home, use only approved recipes from trusted sources.

            For more information on pickling cucumbers, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit the website nchfp.uga.edu, which is the national center for home food preservation.

            The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Recipe of the Week

            I recently received a request for a traditional sliced cucumber and vinegar salad. This recipe is easy to make and only has 15 calories per three fourth cup if using a sugar substitute. The recipe was shared by Carla Due, Family Consumer Science agent in Miller County.

Cucumber and Onion Salad

2 ½ cups thinly sliced, unpeel cucumbers

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

1/3 cup granular sugar substitute or sugar

1/3 cup white vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

            Gently stir cucumbers and onions together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a small bowl until blended. Pour over cucumbers and onions. Cover and chill 2 hours; stirring occasionally.

            Yield: 6 servings

Note: Be creative and add other herbs to flavor your salad. Try thyme, dill, or tarragon.

           

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517
jince@uaex.edu

 

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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