They're as cool as fruits (yes, it's a fruit) get... and it's not hard to see why. Enjoy the refreshing taste of our light and lovely cucumber recipes.
A bit about cucumbers
Cultivated for 3,000 years, yet they have little nutritional value and are 96% water. So why are these phallic fruits (yes, a fruit, though they're widely regarded as a vegetable) so darn popular?
It begs the question: when it comes to the cucumber, what's in it for us?
Well, perhaps their light, refreshing taste. Cucumbers are related to that equally thirst-quenching fruit – the melon – after all. In India, they're practically worshipped, and for practical reasons: chopped up in plain yogurt to make raita, it makes a cooling antidote to a hot curry and intense sun.
Cucumbers are grown all year round in hothouses but – grown under glass – they can be tasteless. It's better to get your mitts on ones locally produced and grown outdoors. However, it's a heat-loving species, so the earliest you'll taste a British cucumber will be early summer.
English cucumbers can grow up to two feet and have an edible, soft skin – unlike their ridged and lumpy Japanese cousins. Mediterranean cucumbers, meanwhile, are small, and contain very few seeds.
For those with sensitive stomachs, avoid thick-skinned cucumbers; the outer lining can cause gas and cramps. Sufferers will be pleased to hear that, as of last year, Sainsbury's supermarket offers the 'c-thru cucumber', with a skin so thin it doesn't need peeling.
Choosing and storing
Buy firm cucumbers; if you spot any sogginess at the ends, leave it. They're best kept refrigerated, and some people swear that if you wrap them in a paper towel, or cling film (shrink wrap), they'll last for up to two weeks.
Cucumbers are often pickled – not only does it makes them last longer, it enhances their subtle flavour. But we also love them in Asian dishes, salads, and in dips such as Indian raita or Mediterranean tzatziki.