The crunchy, fresh, yet light, flavor of cucumbers is loved by the masses and they make a great snack at any point in your day. You can grow them fresh in your garden, or you can easily purchase them at the grocery store with little to no effort to find them. There is an abundance of cucumber recipes to try out. Whether it is cucumber salad or cucumber flavored waters, the possibilities are endless. Not only do they taste refreshing, but they also are filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will allow you to have a healthy diet!
Cucumber Fun Facts
- “The term “cool as a cucumber” is actually derived from the cucumber’s ability to cool the temperature of the blood.
- Cucumbers contain vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.”
- “The waxy coating of a cucumber can actually remove ink, rubbing the skin over the writing will slowly remove it.
- Pureed or sliced cucumber gives an almost instant relief to sunburnt skin.
- Cucumbers have been consumed for a very long time. They were first domestically grown in ancient India around the 2nd-3rd millennia BC.
- David Thomas from the UK grew the world’s heaviest cucumber. Weighing in at 12.9 kg (23 lb 7 oz).”
- “Cucumbers are a good source of B vitamins and carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.
- Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long.”
Cucumbers originated in ancient India over 3,000 years ago, but it spread quickly throughout the Mediterranean and then over to Europe. Today, it is one of the most widely cultivated crops in the entire world and for good reason! Cucumbers travelled around to different nations through trading, which eventually landed them throughout the globe. The cucumber was truly embraced by the Roman Empire, where people of all statuses enjoyed this nutritious vegetable. They used it for eating as well as medicinal purposes.
According to Vegetable Facts,
“They treated bad eyesight, scared mice, cured scorpion bites, and were carried around the waists of wives who wished to have children. The most famous example of cucumbers fascination in Ancient Rome came during the short reign of Emperor Tiberius (14 – 16 AD) who demanded to eat cucumber on every day of the year.”
When Rome fell before the 8th and 9th century, cucumbers lost their popularity. It wasn’t until around the 14th century when the English were introduced to it where it slowly began to pick up steam. At first, many of the English people thought that uncooked vegetables were foods for animals and not humans, which landed the cucumber the nickname of “cowcumber” and it wasn’t until the 1800’s when this vegetable improved and hybridized for overall more efficient consumption.
There is a variety of cucumbers now grown throughout the world, with China being the lead producer of the vegetable. There was not word about different varieties of cucumbers until about 1806 where eight were named.
According to Arizona History,
“M’Mahon, in his Gardener’s Calendar, named eight, all from the Old World. Modern cucumbers gradually evolved from these and other European varieties without planned hybridization, or much selection, until 1872, when Tailby’s hybrid was exhibited. After that, especially from 1880 to the present, much interest has been shown in breeding this vegetable. Most of the kinds now grown by gardeners and truckers have originated since 1900.”
In today’s day and age, they are a basic staple to our diets, and are used in a variety of dishes and drinks. Cucumber salad is popular in the summer, and cucumber water is more refreshing and nutritious than just plain old water. Even dating back to ancient days, this vegetable has truly stood the test of time.
Cucumber Nutritional Facts
Cucumbers belong to the same botanical family as melons, squash, zucchini, and pumpkins. They contain healthy amounts of phytonutrients; flavonoids, lignans, and triterpenes. All of these nutrients have been said to harbor a lot of essential antioxidants that help with decreasing inflammation in the body. According to Live Science, “Cucumbers are 95 percent water, according to Ware. This makes cucumbers a great way to stay hydrated, especially during the summer.”
With one serving of cucumbers only containing 8 calories, the nutrient breakdown comes in small numbers. For one serving there is 0.06 grams of fat and less than 1 gram of sugar. Other essential vitamins present are potassium, vitamin K, which is essential for preventing blood clots, vitamin C, dietary fiber, as well as phosphorus and magnesium. These are essential to everyday health and wellness.
Cucumber Health Benefits
With a high antioxidant count, according to World’s Healthiest Foods “Cucumbers are a valuable source of conventional antioxidant nutrients including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese. In addition, cucumbers contain numerous flavonoid antioxidants, including quercetin, apigenin, luteolin, and kaempferol.” There have been different studies done on the anti-cancer benefits of cucumbers, and while it has not been a proven cure, they definitely help fight inflammation in the body.
I’m sure you have seen cucumbers being used in spas all around the world, due to their ever refreshing nutrients that help nourish the skin. Because of their cooling effects, they help naturally reduce inflammation and swelling in the skin, which makes them popular when getting facial treatments. They have also been known to improve heart health, digestion, and bone health.
The health benefits are not yelled from the mountain tops with cucumbers, as they get overshadowed by many other vegetables but nonetheless, they are still very nutritious and fresh for the body and even tastier for consumption.
The different variety of cucumbers are vast, yet they are all pretty alike. They are all hybridized versions of each other, which makes them taste similar. Pickling cucumbers and slicing cucumbers are two different types of cucumbers, and the varieties of each differ. English cucumbers, Armenian cucumbers, Japanese cucumbers, Kirby cucumbers, Persian, and lemon cucumbers are the different varieties most well known today.
The uses go far beyond the dinner table with cucumbers, and whether you use it topically or consume them, you will reap the benefits. They work as a natural energy booster with the B vitamins present. So ditch the caffeine next time you are feeling a slump in your energy levels. They also help keep pesky critters out of your garden, and fog off of your bathroom mirrors. If you have had a late night on the town with one too many drinks, simply eat a few slices of cucumbers for less of a hangover the next morning. They will replenish your electrolytes and hydrate your dehydrated body.
Finally another quirky yet fun way to use cucumbers happens to be near your toolbox. If you have a creaky door that squeaks non-stop, rub a little cucumber on the hinge, and the squeak will go away! These are all quite unique uses aside from the typical cucumber on your eyes treatment everyone is so accustomed to seeing.
Tomato and Cucumber Salad Recipe
By: The Town Dish
- Mixed baby plum tomatoes, 400 grams, sliced in half
- Salad cucumber, 1 large, peeled and diced (around 1 cup)
- Red onion, 1/4 cup, finely chopped
- Oregano, 1 teaspoon
- Olive oil, a generous splash
- Lime juice, 2 to 3 splashes
- Fleur de Sel, 1/2 to 3/4th teaspoon (adjust as per taste)
- In a salad bowl, mix together the first six ingredients, one after the other.
- Toss them well so that the oil and lime juice and oregano gets mixed well with the vegetables.
- Just before serving, sprinkle the Fleur de Sel on top of the salad and serve generous portions.