Cucumbers are cylindrical in shape, around 6-8 inches in size and have a dark green skin. The skin is somewhat ribbed in appearance with small bumps and nodes. The skin of a Cucumber can be thick, depending on the variety, but not thick enough to require more than a vegetable peeler to remove. A Cucumber’s flesh is light green with pale, edible seeds. The flesh has a 96% moisture content. The entire Cucumber is edible.
Cucumbers, botanically known as Cucumis sativus, belong to the same family as melons and squash, and are technically a fruit. There are hundreds of different varieties of Cucumis sativus; generally they can be divided into two different groups: pickling and slicing. Pickling Cucumbers are not typically sold for fresh consumption and are most often made into the pickles seen on grocery store shelves. Slicing Cucumbers are most commonly seen in the local market’s produce section, and can range in color from dark green to white and also range in size.
Cucumbers have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and also contain high amounts of a group of phytonutrients called cucurbitacins, which have anti-cancer benefits. The high moisture content of Cucumbers makes them good for rehydrating the body.
Cucumbers are most often used raw. Wash Cucumbers before using, to ensure there is no wax left on the skin. Peeling the skin is more of a preference, but it can be bitter so it’s best to try it first. Slice cucumbers and add to salads or a crudité plate. Marinate Cucumbers in oil, vinegar and spices. Cucumbers pair well with mint and dill. Shred Cucumber into cheese cloth and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible; mix with yogurt and dill for tatziki sauce. Slice lengthwise and dice to add to quinoa or bulgur wheat salad. The nutritional value of Cucumbers is best obtained when they are added to fresh smoothies or juices. Cucumbers will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, even unused portions. Use Cucumbers within a few days for best quality.