Ever wonder how to
beat the scorching summer heat? Remember humble crunchy cucumber! This
wonderful, low calorie vegetable indeed has more nutrients to offer
water and electrolytes.
The vegetable is one of the oldest cultivated
crops and believed to be originating in the northern plains of Indian
subcontinent. The plant is a creeper (vine) like other members of
Cucurbita family, for example, gourds,
Botanically; it belongs to the Cucurbitaceae
family; and is known scientifically as Cucumis sativus.
Cucumber is easy to grow. Varieties, varying in
size, shape, and color, are cultivated all around the world. In
general, the fruit features dark-green skin, crispy moisture rich
flesh, and small edible seeds concentrated at its core.
As in other squash members, cucumbers too are
best-harvested young, tender and just short of reaching maturity, at
the stage when they taste sweet, have crunchy texture, and unique
flavor. If left uninterrupted, the fruit continues to grow in size, its
skin becomes tougher and turns yellow, and seeds become hard and
inedible. Fresh cucumbers are available throughout the season and can
be eaten raw as is or in vegetable salads or juicing.
|Cucumis melo var. flexuosus-Armenian type.
||Dosakayi-Indian curry cucumber. Salad
cucumber by side for comparison.
melo var. flexuosus) are long, crispy, and thin-ribbed,
curved, and have light green color. Although grouped botanically in the
melon family, they appear and taste just like cucumbers.
Miniature varieties such as gherkins,
are very small indeed and usually preferred in
is a yellow Indian curry cucumber, has sweet taste and neutral flavor.
It is used extensively in the preparation of stews and curries,
particularly during the summer season in southern parts of India and
benefits of Cucumber
It is one of the very low calorie vegetables;
provide just 15 calories
per 100 g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol.
Cucumber peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce
constipation, and offer some protection against colon cancers by
eliminating toxic compounds from the gut.
It is a very good source of potassium, an
important intracellular electrolyte. 100 g of cucumber provides 147 mg
of potassium but only 2 mg of sodium. Potassium is a heart friendly
electrolyte helps bring a reduction in total blood pressure and heart
rates by countering effects of sodium.
anti-oxidants in moderate ratios such as ß-carotene
and α-carotene, vitamin-C, vitamin-A,
These compounds help act as protective
scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen
species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
Their total antioxidant strength, measured in terms of oxygen radical absorbance
capacity (ORAC value), is 214 µmol TE/100 g.
Cucumbers have mild diuretic property, which
perhaps attributed to their free-water, and potassium and low sodium
content. This helps in checking weight gain and high blood pressure.
They surprisingly have a high amount of vitamin K, provides
about 17 µg of this vitamin per 100 g. Vitamin-K has been found to have
a potential role in bone strength by promoting osteotrophic (bone mass
building) activity. It also has established role in the treatment of
Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.
See the table below for in depth analysis
per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National
Nutrient data base)
Selection and storage
|Armenian cucumbers in a market.
(Cucumis melo var. flexuosus)
readily sold in the stores all around the season. Fresh varieties,
depending upon the cultivar type and region, as well as preserved,
pre-processed, and pickled are also made available in these stores.
In the store,
buy fresh ones that feature bright green color, firm
and stout in texture. Look for spots, cuts or breaks over its surface.
Do not buy overly matured or yellow colored since they tend to contain
more insoluble fiber and mature seeds. Furthermore, avoid those with
ends as they indicate old stock and state of de-hydration. Go for
organically grown products to get rich flavor and nutrient content.
Once at home,
they should be washed thoroughly in clean water to rid
off any surface dust and pesticides. The skin comes in a variety of
often with tiny spikes that should be rubbed off easily. Do not
discard the peel as it has vital minerals, phyto-chemicals, and fiber.
store, keep them at room temperature for a day
or two, but better stored inside the refrigerator set at high relative
humidity where they stay fresh
and serving methods
Wash them thoroughly in cold running water just
Sometimes, they may require light scrub at places where prickles or
dirt attached firmly. Trim both ends using sharp knife and rub the ends
to remove sticky, off-white, fluid like oozing substance in order to
lessen bitter taste of either ends. Cut into cubes, slices, etc., as
you may desire.
Here are some serving tips:
Fresh, clean cucumbers may be enjoyed as they
are without any additions.
Its cubes are a great
addition to vegetable/fruit salads.
Indian yellow curry-cucumber (dosakayi)
is used widely in a variety of curry and stew preparations in
south India with
added buttermilk and yogurt.
Finely chopped fresh
slices mixed with yogurt, cumin,
and salt to make Indian
Cucumber juice is a very
good health drink.
- Fine slices also added in
delicious Spanish cold tomato
and cucumber soup, gazpacho.
Gherkin and rind of other varieties have been
also used in
the preparation of pickles.
<<-Back to Vegetables from Cucumber. Visit
here for an impressive list of
vegetables along with complete illustrations of their nutrition facts
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link to visit very informative pages on:-
reading: Refer Vegetable information page- University of Illinois extension.
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