Cucumbers are relatives of melons. They are grown all over the world and are used for pickling, salads, and some harder varieties are even used in curries.
They grow on a trailing yellow flowered vine with that can climb around a frame, a trellis, or even indoors around a sunny window. Cucumbers come in all shapes sizes, from tiny gherkins or cornichons, to round apple cucumbers and oblong mid-sized Persian cucumbers, to the long almost-seedless English cucumbers that add their crisp mild flavor and cool pale green color Britain’s traditional cucumber tea sandwiches.
Although cucumbers are now grown year-round, they are originally a summer fruit. Cucumbers are low in calories and high in fiber, especially if you leave the skins on. Their high water content makes them fabulously hydrating eaten raw in salads. Adding cucumber slices to chilled water adds great fresh flavor that can be really helpful for those going through chemo taste changes. A downside is that some people find cucumber peels hard to digest, but that is easily solved with peeling.
Look for firm, smooth, unblemished green cucumbers. Discard any with soft or yellow patches. Cucumbers are picked unripe and green, so their color is important, as they become bitter when ripe. They will keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days, but once cut, their high water content means they can get moldy fast, even if the uncut parts are vacuum sealed, so keep an eye on them.
They are great in salads like our traditional Cucumber & Dill Salad, which is great with salmon, in a cold soup like Cucumber Yogurt and Wheat Berry Soup, as a snack on toast with smashed chickpeas, or as a refreshing granita ice for a sore mouth.