The cucumber is part of the curcubit, or gourd, family of vegetables, which also includes melons and squashes. The cucumbers we commonly see are long, straight, and green, but there are many varieties of cucumber. Some are long and curved. Some are yellow, white, or striped. Pickling cucumbers are smaller varieties. Despite their name, they can be used in the same way as other kinds of cucumbers, as well as for making pickles. Cucumbers contain vitamins K and C, as well as several minerals, including potassium.
Wash, pat dry, and store cucumbers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They should last about a week. If you wrap the cucumbers in a paper or cloth towel before putting them in the bag, they may last a bit longer.
It is usually not necessary to peel a cucumber or remove the seeds if you plan to eat it raw. If the cucumber skin has been waxed (to make it look shiny) or if you plan to cook the cucumber, remove the skin with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife. Some large cucumbers have hard seeds. You can remove them by cutting the cucumber in half lengthwise and scraping out the seeds with a spoon.
Slice, dice, or cut your cucumber into spears, depending on the needs of your recipe.
How to Use Cucumbers
- Make a cucumber sandwich with sliced cucumbers and butter or cheese
- Add sliced cucumbers to any sandwich in place of lettuce
- Eat cucumber slices or spears as a snack, either plain or with dip
- Make a salad with sliced cucumbers and diced onion, sprinkled with vinegar or lemon juice
- Add sliced or diced cucumbers to any kind of salad.
- Add a couple of cucumber slices to a glass of ice water to make a refreshing drink
- Add sliced, peeled cucumbers to a stir fry