UCHD, Protecting Your Health.

 

Recipe of the Week: Cucumber

Try a new recipe! The Wellness Consortium of Union County has partnered with Union County Farmer's Market to bring you information and healthy recipes that feature locally grown fruits and vegetables.

 Vegetable of the Week: Cucumber

History

Cucumber plants naturally thrive in both temperate and tropical environments, and generally require temperatures between 60-90°F/15-33°C. For this reason, they are native to many regions of the world. In evolutionary terms, the first cucumbers were likely to have originated in Western Asia (and perhaps more specifically in India) or parts of the Middle East. Cucumbers are mentioned in the legend of Gilgamesh—a Uruk king who lived around 2500 BC in what is now Iraq and Kuwait. It was approximately 3,300 years later when cucumber cultivation spread to parts of Europe, including France. And it was not until the time of the European colonists that cucumbers finally appeared in North America in the 1500's.

Today, the states of Florida and California are able to provide U.S. consumers with fresh cucumbers for most of the year (from March through November). Imported cucumbers from Mexico are commonly found in groceries during the winter months of December, January, and February. In California alone, about 6,600 acres are planted with slicing cucumber varieties and 4,400 with pickling cucumbers. Worldwide, China is by far the largest producer of cucumbers, and provides about two-thirds of the global supply. Iran, Turkey, Russia, Egypt, Spain, Mexico, the Ukraine, Japan, Indonesia, and the U.S. all participate in the world cucumber market, with an especially high number of exports coming from Iran, Mexico, and Spain. Annual production of cucumbers worldwide is approximately 84 billion pounds.

Selection and Storage

Since cucumbers can be very sensitive to heat, you'll be on safer grounds if you choose those that are displayed in refrigerated cases in the market. 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.

During the selection process, you may find it helpful to know that thin-skinned cucumbers will generally have fewer seeds than those that are thick-skinned.

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, place it in a tightly sealed container so that it does not become dried out. For maximum quality, cucumber should be used within one or two days. Cucumbers should not be left out at room temperature for too long as this will cause them to wilt and become limp.

Preparation

Two common questions about cucumbers involve consumption of their skin and their seeds. There are several facts you need to know before making your decision about consumption of cucumber skins and seeds. First, it is important to remember that the skins and seeds of cucumbers are both rich in nutrients. In fact, the nutrient richness of both plant parts is significantly higher than the flesh. For this reason, consumption of both skins and seeds is desirable from a nutritional standpoint. 

Growing

Some suggested varieties for Ohio gardens are Sweet Slice Burpless, Straight 8, Poinsett, Dasher II and Marketmore 80 for slicing. Boston Pickling are good for pickles and Bushmaster and Spacemaster are good for container gardening. Unusual varieties include Lemon, a small yellow type, and Armenian, a long, slender, sweet variety. There are many new and excellent hybrid varieties available as well. Refer to the end of tthis fact sheet for varieties and their characteristics.

Cucumbers are ready for harvest 50 to 70 days from planting. Depending on their use, harvest on the basis of size. Cucumbers should not be allowed to reach the yellowish stage as they become bitter with size. Harvest by cutting the stem 1/4 inch above the fruit. Don't trample the vines any more than necessary to harvest the crop.

Frequent picking of cucumbers is essential as they grow and reach optimum quality. Delayed harvest results in reduced quality products and less productive plants because fruiting is an exhaustive process for the plant.

  • Straight Eight - Heavy yield of smooth, 8-inch long straight and smooth cucumber, dark skin and pure white flesh.
  • Spacemaster - Excellent for baskets on containers, 7-1/2 inch dark green fruits, mosaic and scab tolerant.
  • Seman - Sunny yellow skin, lemon shaped and lemon sized cucumbers, crisp and mild.
  • Sweet Slice Burpless - mild 10 to 12-inch fruits, never bitter, resists several diseases.
  • Bush Pickle Hybrid - 2-1/2 to 3-inch plants, early crop of white-spined 5-inch fruits.

Information was adapted from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=42 and http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1608.html.

2016 Recipe

2016 Cucumber Recipe Card 1

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2015 Recipe

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2014 Recipe

2014 Recipe Card - Cucumber Canoes - Cucumbers

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2013 Recipe

cucumber yogurt dip

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2012 Recipe

Cucumber Salad_2012

 

 

 

 

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