All you need to know about … Cucumbers
Cucumbers are cool! Delicious and crunchy their composition is over 95% water so they are a really refreshing addition to your diet. Cucumbers are members of the gourd family which also includes pumpkin, squash, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon. There are a number of health benefits of eating cucumber. Their high water content is coupled with a low kilojoule count making them an excellent plant-based snack. Cucumbers are loaded with vitamin K, an essential vitamin for the blood-clotting process. They also contain vitamins A and C for healthy skin, eyes, brain function and bones. Half a cup of cucumber provides you with the equivalent of one daily serve of vegetables. Most of the vitamins and nutrients in a cucumber are stored in the skin so resist the urge to peel them for the maximum health benefits.
Around the world there are many different varieties of cucumber, although in Australia the most commonly eaten types are green cucumbers, Lebanese cucumbers and Continental (or burpless) cucumber.
Cucumbers are a versatile ingredient and can be used fresh in salads, eaten raw as a snack, sliced and added to water to make refreshing cucumber water, diced and combined with yoghurt and garlic to make tzatziki, or chopped with mango, coriander and red onion to make a summery salsa.
When selecting cucumbers look for a cucumber that is firm and has no damage to the skin. The darker the skin of a cucumber the more nutrients and vitamins it contains, so look for dark green skin. Store cucumbers in the fridge and avoid putting them near fruit like apples or tomatoes so that they maintain their crispness.
And what about the origins of the phrase “as cool as a cucumber”? There’s some conjecture about where it came from, with some believing it is tied to the British colonisation of India where cucumbers were considered the ideal food to remain cool in the heat of an Indian summer. Others believe the phrase alludes to the fact that cucumbers feel cool to the touch. Irrespective, the term was first recorded in British poet John Gay’s poem about jilted love ‘New Song on New Similes’ in 1732.
My passion is as mustard strong;
I sit all sober sad;
Drunk as a piper all day long,
Or like a March-hare mad.
Round as a hoop the bumpers flow;
I drink, yet can't forget her;
For, though as drunk as David's sow,
I love her still the better.
Pert as a pear-monger I'd be,
If Molly were but kind;
Cool as a cucumber could see
The rest of womankind.