Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!
Nutritional and Other Information
About cucumbers from
the Barren County Farmers' Market




Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Cucumbers are native to India and records indicate it may be one of the oldest cultivated vegetables. Cucumbers belong to the group of vegetables known as cucurbits which includes other vine crops such as melons, pumpkins, and squash.

There are two basic ways people eat cucumbers, fresh and those that are pickled.

Slicing, or fresh cucumbers are 6-9 inches long and have a dark green, glossy skin.

Pickling cucumbers are usually smaller than slicers but any cucumber can be pickled or sliced for that matter.

Gherkins are particularly small pickling cucumbers.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Selecting a quality product

Look for cucumbers that are firm and rounded and arenít wrinkled or shriveled near the ends. Slender cucumbers typically have fewer seeds and those that bulge in the middle are likely filled with large seeds.

The skin should be bright green and not yellow unless you are eating one of the smaller yellow varieties such as the Lemon Cucumber which is yellow.

Tips on Storage

Store uncut and unwashed in the vegetable crisper in your refrigerator. Waxed cucumbers will store well for up to a week. Cut cucumbers should be wrapped in plastic and used within 2 days.

Tips on cooking

Most cucumbers are eaten fresh and not cooked. However, larger cucumbers that are considered too old to eat any other way may be peeled, seeded, cubed and fried, just like frying okra or green tomatoes, and do not have the bitter taste they would have if eaten raw. You donít need to peel cucumbers prior to eating them.

Ways to use:

Combined with scallions, fresh dill and vinegar
Sliced or diced on salads
Refrigerator or regular pickles
Chilled cucumber soup or gazpacho
Added to slaw




Recipes

Cucumber Dill Dip

1 medium cucumber
1/4 pepper
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped OR 2 tsp dried dill, crushed
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced

Peel, seed and finely dice the cucumber. Using a colander, squeeze out any excess water from the cucumber chunks. Place in a bowl and blend will with the pepper and dill. Blend in the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cover and chill. Makes about 3 cups of dip.

Dipper suggestions:
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Radishes, Carrots, Onion Crackers

Decorative Cucumbers
Cut off both ends of a cucumber. With a potato peeler, peel one strip all the way down the cucumber. Move over about the width of the strip you just peeled and leave the skin intact. Then peel again, then leave the skin again, causing a striping effect all the way down the cucumber. Slice cucumber into 1/4 inch thick rounds.

Cored Cucumbers
Cut off both ends of a cucumber. With a potato peeler, peel entire cucumber. Slice in half lengthwise. Gently scoop out the seeds of the cucumber by loosening with a knife and removing with a spoon. Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices, creating half moons. You can also create slices similar to donut holes by cutting the ends off, peeling, then cutting in half, but not lengthwise. Then carefully remove the pulp with a knife. Slice as above.




Cold Cucumber Soup

1 med onion, diced
1 tbsp oil
3 cucumbers, peeled, diced
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1 cup half-and-half
salt & pepper

Saute onion in hot oil 5 minutes over medium heat. Add cucumber and cook 5 minutes more. Add broth, lemon juice, and sugar. Boil. Reduce heat and cover and cook for 20 minutes. Cool for a few minutes. Puree in a blender. Add half-and-half, salt and pepper to taste. Serves four. Easily doubled.




Mouse Melon Salad

Mouse Melons are a variety of cucumber that is very small. They are also called Mexican Sour Gherkins. The best mouse melons for salads are the tender ones less than 1 inch in length that have not developed many seeds. You can tell whether they are tender by simply squeezing them. If they are an inch long and feel hard, they should not be used ó better to save them for pickling. The delicious sweet-and-sour flavor of this salad depends a great deal on the quality of the mango you choose, so be certain that it is sweet and fragrant, yet still firm. If the mango is not sweet enough, adjust the seasoning with a bit of sugar. The salad also should have a slight kick of heat, but go easy on the hot chili because it can overwhelm the dish very quickly.

8 ounces small, narrow string beans
8 ounces young mouse melons
1/2 cup onion, sliced paper-thin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 mango, peeled and finely diced
2 tablespoons sweet red pepper, diced
3 tablespoons cilantro or Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon hot chili powder or more to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 limes

Trim and cut the beans or cowpea pods into 1-inch pieces. Cook in a vegetable steamer or poach in boiling water only until slightly tender (about 5 minutes), drain and set aside. Cut the mouse melons in half lengthwise and put them in a deep work bowl with the sliced onion, garlic, mango, sweet pepper, cilantro, hot chili and salt. Stir, and then add the beans. Whisk together the olive oil and lime juice and pour this over the other ingredients. Allow the salad to stand about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time so that the flavors mingle. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.

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