Cucumbers, scientifically known as Cucumis sativus, are grown to either be eaten fresh or to be pickled. Those that are to be eaten fresh are commonly called slicing cucumbers. They are cylindrical in shape and commonly range in length from about six to nine inches, although they can smaller or much larger. Their skin, which ranges in color from green to white, may either be smoothed or ridged depending upon the variety. Inside a cucumber is a very pale green flesh that is dense yet aqueous and crunchy at the same time, as well as numerous edible fleshy seeds. Cucumbers that are cultivated to make pickles are oftentimes much smaller than slicing cucumbers. Gherkins are one variety of cucumbers cultivated for this purpose. The flesh of cucumbers is primarily composed of water but also contains vitamin C and caffeic acid, both of which help soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling. Cucumbers'hard skin is rich in fiber and contains a variety of beneficial minerals including silica, potassium and magnesium.
Storing / Preserving:
As cucumbers are very sensitive to heat, put them into the refrigerator as soon as you get them home. They should be firm, rounded at their edges, and their color should be a bright medium to dark green. Avoid cucumbers that are yellow, puffy, have sunken water-soaked areas, or are wrinkled at their tips. Thinner cucumbers will generally have less seeds than those that are thicker. Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep for several days. If you do not use the entire cucumber during one meal, wrap the remainder tightly in plastic or place it in a sealed container so that it does not become dried out. Cucumbers should not be left out at room temperature for too long as this will cause them to wilt and become limp.
What to do with all of those cucumbers? If you haven't tried the refrigerator pickles, please try them. They are really good, and simple too. Don't forget to pick some dill at the farm.
Preparation / Use Suggestions:
Unwaxed cucumbers, like the ones from Anchorrun, do not need to be peeled but should be washed before cutting. Waxed cucumbers should always be peeled first. Cucumbers can be sliced, diced or cut into sticks. While the seeds are edible and nutritious, some people prefer not to eat them. To easily remove them, cut the cucumber lengthwise and use the tip of a spoon to gently scoop them out.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Use half-inch thick cucumber slices as petite serving "dishes" for chopped vegetable salads.
Mix diced cucumbers with sugar snap peas and mint leaves and toss with rice wine vinaigrette.
For refreshing cold gazpacho soup that takes five minutes or less to make, simply purée cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and onions, then add salt and pepper to taste.
Add diced cucumber to tuna fish or chicken salad recipes.