The cucumbers should begin showing up in our local farm markets around the end of the month. Cucumbers belong to the same family as melons and squash, and the early cucumbers are ready for harvest 50 days after planting.
Cucumbers contain a variety of healthy phytonutrients with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. The phytonutrients in cucumbers known as lignans have been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer, including breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
Cucumbers are also an excellent source of vitamin K, a very good source of molybdenum and a good source of Vitamin C, which helps to rid the body of damaging free radicals. Cucumbers also contain potassium and magnesium, manganese, and vitamin B5.
The typical cucumber in this country is the long, dark green, smooth-skinned variety; however, cucumbers can have smooth or rough skin, skin which is thick or very thin, and the shape can be elongated or even round! Thin-skinned cucumbers will generally have fewer seeds than those that are thick-skinned. While genetically modified cucumbers do exist, genetic engineering is not the cause of seedless varieties of cucumbers. Cucumber plants can reproduce through parthenogenesis, meaning they don’t need pollen. Each cucumber plant can make cucumbers all by itself. Without pollen, there will be no seeds, but there are quite a few nutrients in the seeds, so you might just want to go for the cucumbers with seeds.
Cucumbers may be more susceptible to heavy metal contamination than many other fruits and vegetables, which is another good reason for seeking out organic cucumbers. Purchase cucumbers which are firm, rounded at the edges, plump and have a bright green color (unless you are buying the yellow “lemon” cucumbers!). Avoid cucumbers with wrinkly skin. Cucumbers are very sensitive to heat, so it is best to keep them in the refrigerator, where they will keep for several days. If you don’t use all of the cucumber at once, wrap the cut end with plastic wrap or seal the entire cucumber in an airtight container so it does not dry out.
Try this cool, refreshing cucumber salad – you can find pots of dill at most of our local farm markets now, also!
Cucumbers with sour cream and dill
- 2 to 3 cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- Pepper to taste (optional)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
- Thinly sliced Vidalia onion
- Unprocessed sea salt
Arrange cucumber slices in a serving bowl and sprinkle the layers with salt. Place a saucer or other weight on the cucumbers to weigh them down. Cover and let stand for an hour or so while the excess juice drains off.
Combine sour cream, sliced onion, vinegar, pepper to taste, and chopped dill; add to cucumbers, gently stir to blend, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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