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Tender Profile | European Cucumber

By Kelly Neil

European Cucumber, a.k.a. Cucumis sativus

Who am I?

  • Plant family: Cucurbitaceae
  • Harvest season: August through October for field cucumbers. Earlier for greenhouse cukes. 
  • Botanical details: European cucumbers are longer than slicing cucumbers, and have thinner skin and smaller seeds. In some circles, they are considered to be a superior eating cucumber. 
  • Great source of*: Vitamin K. Cucumbers are delicious, crunchy water! They do contain other vitamins and minerals, but you'd have to eat a lot of cucumber to get an appreciable amount. 

*contains more than 10% of the recommended daily allowance for these nutrients

How to care for me:

  • I can be stored for up to two weeks in the crisper drawer of your fridge. But, like most things, the fresher I am, the better.

Pairings:

  • I am a great match for tangy ingredients, such as vinegar (think pickles), lemon juice, and yogurt, as well as for bold and pungent alliums, including garlic, chives, and red or green onion. Because of my mild flavor, I compliment lots of different herbs and spices. Try parsley, cilantro, caraway, coriander, cumin, horseradish, mint, and thyme. 

How to cook me: 

I show up a lot in Mediterranean cuisines, as well as Southeast Asian cuisines. 

Fun Facts:

  • Cucumbers are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables. They've been grown by humans since 8000 B.C. 
  • It is believed that cucumbers originated in India. They're related to zucchini, summer squash, pumpkins, and melons. 
  • It's said that Ulysses S. Grant would make an entire meal out of cucumber and coffee.
  • The ancient Egyptians made a drink out of fermented cucumbers.
  • The longest cucumber ever recorded was grown in England, and measured 47-inches long. 
  • Because they're so high in water, the inside of a cucumber can be up to 10 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature.