Produce Spotlight: The Ultimate Guide to Cucumbers
Have you ever wondered why your cucumbers are bitter? Or whether or not you can freeze cucumbers? And what about how to grow cucumbers? Look no further than this Ultimate Guide to Cucumbers. These crunchy, refreshing veg is popular for good reason. See your questions answered below, along with cucumber recipes for inspiration.
Cucumber Origin and Growing Information
Where are cucumbers native and what is their origin?
Cucumbers were first cultivated about 3,000 years ago in India. From India, they spread to Greece and Italy. Later, they made their way throughout Asia and to the Americas.
How do cucumbers grow?
Cucumbers are sensitive to cold and grow best in temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees. They are full sun plants, meaning they require 8 hours of full sunlight each day to grow. Cucumber plants can grow in two forms: vining and bush. Vining cucumber plants grow along the ground or can trellis and yield more fruit than their bush counterparts.
When are cucumbers in season?
Due to their high temperature and sunlight needs, peak growing season for cucumbers is from May to August. In Vermont and New England, they can sometimes sprout later depending on the spring temperatures.
Can cucumbers grow in the shade?
Cucumbers are plants that require full sunlight, so they will not grow well in the shade. The fruit from shaded cucumber plants will be smaller and the overall yield will be much lower.
Cooking and Preparing Cucumbers
Which cucumbers make the best pickles?
Pickling cucumbers are specific varieties of cucumbers which are ripe at a much smaller size. They are very crunchy and crisp.
How do you tell when a cucumber has gone bad?
Many cucumbers will start to go bad at the tips first. Press your thumb into the tips of the cucumber, and if they feel soft or spongy they are starting to go bad. If they become wet, slippery or moldy toss them in the compost!
Can cucumbers be cooked?
Like radishes, we typically eat cucumbers raw because of their crisp watery texture. But they can be cooked! For best results, use firmer varieties, such as pickling cucumbers, and cook them with high heat cooking methods, like sautéing, only until crisp tender.
Can cucumbers be frozen?
Cucumbers, like lettuce and radishes, become rubbery and unpalatable once thawed. This is due to the cell structure breaking down during the freezing and thawing process. To preserve cucumbers, instead consider pickling or fermenting. Cucumber made into lacto-fermented pickles are healthy ways to add probiotics to your diet. Cucumber kimchi can be made and stored in the fridge for a week.
How can cucumbers be used?
Nutrition of Cucumbers
How many carbs are in cucumbers?
One serving, which is a ½ cup, of cucumbers has 2g of carbohydrates and only 8 calories. Additionally, about 20% of the carbohydrates in cucumbers come from fiber. Fiber has been shown to increase weight loss, promote fullness and feed the good bacteria in your gut microbiome.
What are the health benefits of cucumbers?
Along with being good sources of fiber, cucumbers are 95% water and have hydrating benefits. The high water and fiber content aids in digestion and promotes weight loss. Not only are cucumbers high in water, but they also contain important hydrating nutrients like magnesium and potassium. These nutrients also play an important role in maintaining healthy cardiovascular function. Cucumbers have antioxidants with anti-inflammatory compounds. These anti-inflammatory benefits can reduce skin irritation, which is one reason you see them in so many spas. Some studies have found that the combination of nutrients and antioxidants found in cucumbers may be protective against cancer.
Can cucumbers cause bloating?
Because cucumbers are high in water and fiber, they are typically used to reduce bloating. However, if you are feeling some discomfort from cucumbers, you are not alone. Some people cannot digest the antioxidant called cucurbitacin, which is plentiful in cucumbers. Aside from these rare cases, cucumbers are perfectly safe to enjoy all summer long if you can tolerate them.
Are cucumbers safe for dogs?
Luckily, cucumbers are totally safe for dogs! Feel free to enjoy this fresh, in-season veg with your furry best friend all summer.
Are cucumbers low FODMAP? Diabetic-friendly?
For those that are not familiar, the low FODMAP diet is typically used to resolve symptoms of IBS. For any nutrition nerds out there, it stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. FODMAPs have been found to promote inflammation is some people with sensitive bowels, arthritis or inflammatory diseases. Low FODMAP diets are not long term, but they are useful in helping people identify their “problem foods”. The good news is that cucumbers are naturally low in FODMAPs so those trying to follow a low FODMAP diet can enjoy them too. Also, cucumbers are low in calories, carbohydrates and fats so they are safe for people with diabetes as well. To control diabetes, carbohydrates are still important to have but they should be evenly distributed throughout the day. Cucumbers are a great option as a snack or addition to balanced meals.
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