The common cucumber is such a crisp, crunchy, refreshing spring and summer treat. Cukes are so satisfying munched whole or served with dip, sliced into salads, or fermented into entirely new creations.
Flavor profile: Cucumbers are sweet, mild, crunchy, and crisp! In general, thinner-skinned cucumbers have milder flavor and more uniform shape, whereas thicker-skinned cucumbers retain the best crunch and stronger cucumber flavor.
Uses: There are many different varieties of cucumbers that lend themselves well to different uses. Your standard slicing cucumber is a refreshing treat that can be eaten whole like an apple, sliced into spears and served with dip, or sliced into rounds and made into a wide variety of incredible salads ranging from sweet to savory to spicy. Pickling cucumbers are small and rumply with thick skins that help to retain a strong crunch during the fermentation process.
Pairs with: Dill, vinegars, lemon juice, acidic dressings, honey, feta cheese, fennel, fresh herbs, spicy chilis, kimchi
Storage: Cucumbers are tricky to store. If left out in the fridge they can dry out and lose their crispness, but when in a plastic bag they can often get slimy rather quickly. For best storage, place cucumbers in an airtight container or plastic bag, using a paper towel or cloth to soak up excess water if storing for more than a few days.
Other names: In Spanish, the word for cucumber is pepino, coming from the latin root word, "pepo." Botanically, all cucurbit fruits are pepos, including zucchini, winter squash, watermelon, and of course, cucumbers.
Nutrients: Cucumbers contain small amounts of many vitamins and minerals, but they are first and foremost known for their hydration qualities. Much of this is simply due to their high water content, but they also contain electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium which also aid in hydration on hot days.
History: Cucumbers' center of origin is in India, dating back thousands of years, and once domesticated the crop spread throughout cuisine in SWANA (Southwest Asian and North African) cultures. It has long been enjoyed both fermented and fresh in salads.
Why it's a great crop: Cucumbers are actually a very difficult crop to grow in organic systems, susceptible to many different diseases and pest outbreaks. They're just so juicy, everyone wants a slice! But when things go well, the plants can be prolific, producing more fruit than a farmer can keep up with.