Everything you need to know about cucumbers, including seasonality, variations, and nutrition of these tasty summer gourds.
“Cool as a cucumber”. I obviously just had to find the roots behind this popular phrase as part of this week’s cucumber rundown, and I found a few explanations.
- The inside of a cucumber can be 20 degrees F cooler than the temperature of its’ surrounding.
- Cucumbers contain 90% water, so they have a cooling sensation.
- Some writer from the early 1600s once wrote that the women were “cold as cowcumbers” and it just sorta stuck.
Regardless, eating cucumber will make you cool, because there are just so many cool things about them.
Cucumber vs zucchini…how to spot the difference
Fun Fact: Green cucumbers are actually the unripened variation. Ripe cucumbers are yellow and have a bitter taste. But be sure not to buy zucchini, they looks pretty similar! So what’s the difference between cucumbers and zucchini?
- Cucumbers have a cold, waxy, bumpy exterior and are best eaten raw (and are technically a fruit…but we’re calling it a vegetable in Ingredient of the Week terms)
- Zucchinis have a rough, dry exterior with a tiny stem and are best eaten cooked (and they actually are technically vegetables)
Variations of cucumber
There are three main variations of cucumbers that are cultivated today.
- Slicing Cucumbers: The green cucumbers we eat fresh. In North America these are long and have a thick skin, while in other countries these can be small with a delicate skin. Within this category are American Slicing Cucumbers and English Cucumbers. The American Cucumbers have a slight bulge in the middle and contain more seeds, while the English Cucumbers are long, thin, and have few seeds. You may find the English Cucumbers shrink-wrapped to preserve moisture content.
- Pickling or Gherkin Cucumbers: Bred specifically for pickling, these guys are more uniform in shape and length. These will often be shorter and have small bumps over the skin.
- Burpless Cucumbers: As the name implies, these are bred to prevent gas. They have a thin skin, very few seeds, and a sweeter taste. You may find these shrink-wrapped in the grocery, separate from your slicers.
How to store cucumber
Keep cucumbers in a plastic bag in the fridge for about a week. American Cucumbers from the grocery typically have a wax coating to retain moisture. English Cucumbers and cucumbers you may find at a farmer’s market do not, so these will lose moisture faster and should be wrapped in plastic wrap. You can also pickle the cucumbers, using either a shorter slicing or a pickling cucumber.
Cucumber Nutrition Information
per 1 8-inch cucumber (301g)
- Cucumber Calories: 45
- Carbohydrates: 11g
- Fiber: 2g, 6% Daily Value (DV)
- Protein: 2g
- Fat: 0g
- 62% DV of Vitamin K: A fat-soluble vitamin that allows for activation of enzymes in the clotting cascade, which is responsible for blood clotting. Also builds bone by modifying osteocalcin so that it may bind calcium, thus building the bone matrix.
- 14% DV of Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to fight against potentially damaging free radicals (molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc) and an important cofactor in collagen synthesis.
- 13% DV of Potassium: A key mineral and electrolyte involved in countless processes, including healthy nervous system functioning and contraction of the heart and muscles.
- 12% DV of Manganese: A trace element that plays a role in healthy brain and nervous system function.
- 10% DV of Magnesium: A mineral that plays a large role in bone formation and maintenance in addition to being a part of over 300 reactions within the body.