Cucumbers can be both tasty and nutritious
Eat them whilst crisp and fresh. You don't have to cook them to enjoy them. Cucumbers are very versatile and you can eat them as follows:
- Sliced or diced and added to a salad.
- Diced and mixed with diced tomatoes, tossed in balsamic vinegar.
- On tuna sandwiches with a dash of white vinegar and sprinkle of black pepper.
- Neat cucumber sandwiches with fresh bread, butter and a little salt and pepper.
- Cucumber sticks with hummus or spring onion dip.
- Sliced julienne with spring onions and added to crispy duck and hoisin sauce pancakes.
- As an ingredient in homemade tzatziki.
- Juice in your favourite vegetable juice combination also great juiced on its own with mint added.
Some people complain that the taste of cucumber repeats on them. Avoid this by removing the green outer skin, or grow ‘burpless’ varieties. The burpless types have a thinner skin and tend to have a long and slim shape.
Cucumber Citrus Soup
- 0.25 cup butter.
- 1 teaspoon chopped citrus (e.g. lemon, orange) rind, lemon grass or Backhousia citriodora leaves.
- 0.25 cup chopped spring onions, or chives.
- 1 cup of chicken stock, or other stock: fish, beef, for vegetarian vegetable stock.
- 4 cups of peeled cucumber, with seeds removed.
- 3 cups water.
- Salt, pepper and a dash of orange or lemon juice to taste.
Sauté citrus, onion and butter 2mins, then add stock and water and simmer 4-5mins.
Finally, add cucumber and simmer up to 15mins, then process in a blender. Finally add salt, pepper and any citrus juice to taste, and serve hot.
Cucumber and Tomato Salad
- Dice equal volumes of cucumber and tomatoes.
- Mix with chopped parsley and balsamic vinegar.
Herbed Cucumber Sauté
- 4 cups cucumber, sliced, peeled, with seeds removed.
- 2 tablespoons butter.
- 1 tablespoon chives or similar.
- 2 -3 teaspoons mixed herbs: choose any combination of basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, summer or winter savoury or chilli or similar).
- Salt and pepper.
Melt butter in fry pan, then add all other ingredients and sauté until cucumber is tender or even crisp, usually 2-3mins. Hint: cucumber begins to look translucent when done.
French cooking sometimes serves vegetables as a puree,
In French tradition a puree would be served alone, hot, with fried or toasted bread as an accompaniment this might also be served as a side on a dish, hot or cold, (sometimes used for babies, elderly with eating difficulties).
Simply cook vegetables and add herbs, salt or pepper for flavour and once cooked, puree.
Pickled Gherkins (Fermented Polish Style)
- 8 – 12 small pickling cucumbers (make sure they are crunchy and not bitter - you may have to sacrifice one extra to taste).
- 1 teaspoon each: fennel seeds, mustard seed and coriander seed .
- 6 cloves peeled garlic (optional) (2 if you are using 1 jar only).
- Some sprigs of dill.
- 2 tablespoons pickling salt.
- 1 litre of filtered water.
You can make this in one large jar, or 3 or so smaller ones that will accommodate the size of the cucumbers.
- Sterilise the jars and caps.
- Wash and dry the cucumbers.
- Dissolve the pickling salt in the filtered water.
- Place 1 clove garlic in each jar along with 1/3rd (if using 3 jars) of the pickling spices listed and some dill sprigs (keep some sprigs for the top).
- You can either cut the cucumbers in half lengthways (this cures them a lot faster) or leave them hole. Some people prick them all over with a fork so that the pickling mixture is absorbed more easily.
- Pack the jars tightly with the cucumbers and place the remaining dill sprigs on top along with another clove of garlic.
- Top with the brine leaving a centimetre space at the top and cap lightly (not tight) so that the carbon dioxide can escape during the fermentation process.
- Keep the jars in a cool place (around 12-14°C) and make sure you have a tray underneath the jars as the fermentation process may cause some leakage.
- The fermentation process takes about 6 weeks – after this period you should tighten the lids to stop the pickles from spoiling – tightening too early can cause the cucumbers to become mushy, too late means that they may spoil.
Nutritional Facts about Cucumbers
You never think of cucumbers as being nutritional because they are mostly water aren't they?
However, there is a lot more to the humble cucumber than you might think – here is a breakdown on its health benefits:
- Low calorie – 100 grams of cucumber (I small one) is only about 63 kilojoules (15 calories).
- Fat free – no cholesterol.
- Cucumber peel is a great source of dietary fibre – it has also been found to offer some protection against colon cancer as it eliminates toxins from the gut.
- Mildly diuretic – helps in weight control and management of blood pressure.
- Potassium (100 gm = 147 mg potassium) – this has been proven to counter the effects of sodium to reduce blood pressure and heart rates.
- Antioxidants that help to reduce disease and ageing e.g. Vitamin C, Beta-carotene, Vitamin A.
- Vitamin K in reasonably high amounts – helps with bone strength; Vitamin K is also used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease by limiting neuronal brain damage.
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