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Cucumbers Are a Cool Summer Vegetable

Cucumbers can be cool and refreshing,not to mention healthy!

Searcy, Ark. –

Cucumbers are a Cool Summer Vegetable 

Cucumbers are a member of the gourd family and have been cultivated by man for at least 3,000 years. The cucumber is believed native to the great Indian center of plant origins which lies between the northern part of the Bay of Bengal and the towering Himalayas. It has never been found wild anywhere, but species closely related to it have been found wild in that region of India.

Most of the distinct types of cucumber grown today were known at least 400 years ago. Present forms range from thick, stubby little fruits, three to four inches long, up to the great English greenhouse varieties that often reach a length of nearly two feet.

Cucumbers 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.

The so-called "gherkins" that we buy pickled in bottles or glass jars are simply pickled small cucumbers. The true gherkin, or West Indian gherkin, is a different species that is rarely grown in the United States. It produces a warty (or "prickly") oval fruit about an inch long.

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. They should be eaten with the skin on for maximum nutritional value; however, if you must peel, use a vegetable peeler. You may wish to remove the seeds of older cucumbers since they can become bitter, by slicing lengthwise and scooping the seeds out 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 to add to salads. They also are great dipped in low-fat dressing or other low-fat dips. Try adding sliced cucumbers to sandwiches as well.

Cucumbers that are going to be eaten raw should be kept away from raw meat, poultry, or seafood and from the kitchen tools used with the raw meat, poultry or seafood.

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

Cucumbers can be found in supermarkets year-round and at farmers markets and gardens from July to October.

If you have questions about using cucumbers or need information on making pickles, contact me at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, White County by calling 501-268-5394, emailing me at kcullum@uaex.edu or following me on Facebook – UAEX White County FCS / Katie Cullum. The University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. For more information you can contact your local county extension service.

I love cucumbers.  One summer when I lived in Murfreesboro, our secretary had a big garden.  She gave me tomatoes and cucumbers out of their garden, and I would make cucumber & tomato sandwiches.  I love that black-eyed pea salad with cucumbers, or the creamy cucumber salad.  My mom loves cucumber sandwiches or cucumber dip.  But this Gazpacho is another great way to eat up lots of great veggies from the garden or farmers market!  It’s very tasty and a great way to fill up on healthy veggies instead of salty, high-calorie/low-nutrition stuff. 

Gazpacho

Ingredients:

2 large fresh tomatoes, peeled and cored

1 large cucumber, halved

1 green pepper, halved and seeded

1 medium onion, peeled and halved

3 cups tomato juice

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 /4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 to 4 garlic cloves minced

Instructions:

In a blender or food processor, puree half the cucumber, 1 tomato, half the green pepper, half the onion and 1 cup tomato juice. In a large bowl, pour puree and add the remaining tomato juice, vinegar, oil, pepper sauce, salt, pepper and garlic. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Chop the remaining vegetables, cover and refrigerate until serving time. Just before serving, stir chopped vegetables into the puree. Serve chilled.

From “Seasonal and simple”: A guide for enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables

*Source: University of Missouri Extension from Harvest to Health

 

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By Katie Cullum
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Katie Cullum
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
2400 Old Searcy Landing Road Searcy AR 72143
(501) 268-5394
kcullum@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 Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of 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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