We all know that cucumbers make for great pickles to go on top of our burgers—but fresh ‘cukes are just what you need for a healthy, hydrating, and cancer-fighting summer snack!
What do they look like?
Cucumbers come in all shapes and sizes, but the two most common types are the Standard Cucumbers—dark green, bumpy skinned and about the size of a can of spray paint or English Cucumbers—which are also dark green and bumpy skinned, but are much longer and narrower than their standard cucumber cousins. Both varieties of cukes have a very pale green flesh inside.
At some specialty grocery stores and farmer’s markets you may be able to find a unique variety of cucumbers that can have an appearance ranging from the size, shape, and color of a lemon to big, white cucumbers that look like squash.
What do they taste like?
The phrase “cool as a cucumber” exists for a reason—cucumbers have a cool, crisp mouthfeel, even when they haven’t been chilled. Cucumbers are members of the same plant family of watermelons, so some folks might say the flavor is a bit melon-y.
Why are they good for me?
Like many veggies, cucumbers are packed with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer compounds. Many researchers are currently focusing on one particular group of compounds in cucumbers called cucurbitacins, which have promising effects in helping to prevent and treat cancer.
Feeling parched? Slam a glass of water and eat a bowl of cucumber slices. Similar to other produce in the melon family, cucumbers are also deeply hydrating—they’re about 96% water!
When and where do I get them?
Cucumbers are readily available in most grocery stores year around, but in the summer, you’ll probably be able to find them at almost any farmer’s market. Cucumbers are easy to grow and very prolific, meaning lots of farmers are almost giving them away! It might be tempting to opt for the biggest cucumber at the stand, but those are often full of seeds and can be quite bitter. For your best cucumbers, look for dark-skinned cukes that are smaller in size—the narrower the cucumber, the smaller the seeds.
How do I prepare cucumbers?
Because of their high water content, cucumbers thrive when used raw. You’ll love slicing up fresh cucumbers and eating them as a dipper for hummus or as a crunchy veggie topping for a sandwich.
Some folks prefer to peel and seed cucumbers before enjoying, to do this, simply take to the outside with a vegetable peeler until the dark green skin is removed. Then slice the cucumber in half, lengthwise, and use the edge of a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
What are some good recipes?
- Herbed Cucumber and Tomato Salad
- Cucumber Dill Bisque
- Cucumber Limeade
- Kale Hummus Cucumber Bites
- Chinese Cucumber Salad
- Cucumber Salsa
- Simple Tabouli