Cucumbers are delicious and widely available, which makes them a great choice for adding more vegetables into your day. Though technically a fruit because it contains seeds, we use cucumbers as a vegetable. They are in the same family as squash and gourds.
Cucumbers are fat and sodium free, and contain lots of water to help you stay hydrated. Add them to meals to help fill you up without adding a lot of extra calories. They contain vitamins A and C to protect your eyes and immune system, and some fiber to help keep you full. The skins of the cucumber contain minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which are important for your heart.
Choose firm cucumbers with dark green skin. They should be heavy for their size. Lighter cucumbers can be dry and somewhat bitter in taste. There are many different varieties available. Larger cucumbers are best for slicing, while smaller are more suited for pickling. Cucumbers are available in grocery stores year round, or can be found fresh at your local farmer’s markets in the summer.
Store whole cucumbers in the refrigerator for up to one week. Sliced cucumbers can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
Rinse cucumbers with water before slicing or serving. Cucumbers taste great cooked or raw, and with or without the skin. The skin of the cucumber contains many vitamins and minerals. If the skin is shiny, it might be coated with a food grade wax. This wax is added to protect the cucumber during shipping and can be easily removed. To remove the wax, use a vegetable brush to scrub lightly under running water. After rinsing clean, wipe any leftover residue away onto a kitchen towel.
Slice cucumbers and toss onto salads, or add into wraps or sandwiches. Serve them with other vegetables to dip into hummus or your favorite dip. Added to salsa or chicken salad, they add a pleasant and surprising crunch. Add cucumber slices to your water for a refreshing thirst quencher. Throw in some fresh mint or sliced lemon for even more flavor.
Though cucumbers are most commonly eaten raw, they can also be cooked. Sautée them , or mix them in a stir fry with other veggies, such as carrots and snap peas. They can also be sliced and lightly blanched. To blanch the cucumbers, place them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then rinse in cool water to stop the cooking. Season and serve alongside the main dish of your choice.