Have you like me ever wondered what this green vegetable that we use for salads and for skin really is? It is such a cooling vegetable to consume. Cucumbers when you consume, gives a very refreshing look on the face and cools the body instantly.
It is one of the oldest cultivated crops and originated originally in India. Cucumber is easy to grow. It varies in size, shape, texture and color. It is cultivated all around the world, under different climatic zones. In general the fruit features dark green skin, is very crispy, has moisture rich flesh and small edible seeds concentrated at its core. All cucumbers belong to the botanical plant family called Curcubitaceae. Melons and Squashes are the same family as the cucumbers.
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The cucumbers we are most familiar with in the grocery store belong to the specific genus/species group, Cucumis sativus. While there are literally hundreds of different varieties of Cucumis sativus, virtually all of them can be divided into two basic types, slicing and pickling. Slicing cucumbers include all varieties that are cultivated for consumption in the fresh form. Pickling cucumbers include all varieties that are cultivated not for consumption in fresh form, but for processing into pickles. Pickling is a process than can be used for many different foods. It is not limited to cucumbers and/or even to the vegetable food group. In general, the word “pickling” refers to a method of preventing food spoilage that involves soaking in liquid or fermenting. The good thing about cucumber is they thrive in both temperate and tropical environments.
How to choose Cucumbers?
Since cucumbers can be very sensitive to heat, you’ll be on safer grounds if you choose those that are displayed in refrigerated cases in the market. They should be firm, rounded at their edges, and their color should be a bright medium to dark green. Avoid cucumbers that are yellow, puffy, have sunken water-soaked areas, or are wrinkled at their tips. We address the issue of seeds and skins in our “Healthiest Way of Preparing Cucumbers” section below. But during the selection process, you may find it helpful to know that thin skinned cucumbers will generally have fewer seeds than those that are thick skinned. Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep for several days. If you do not use the entire cucumber during one meal, place it in a tightly sealed container so that it does not become dried out. For maximum quality, cucumber should be used within one or two days. Cucumbers should not be left out at room temperature for too long as this will cause them to weary and become limp.
The myth about cucumbers
People including myself have always been in doubt to know if while consuming cucumbers, it is OK to have the skin and seeds. I learned there are several factors one needs to know before actually consuming cucumber skins and seeds. I was so happy to know both skin and seed of cucumber are both rich in nutrients. In fact, the nutrient richness of both plant parts are significantly higher than the flesh. I learned more from my uncle who had a garden where he grew Cucumbers conventionally. These Cucumbers were waxed using non synthetic waxes. He used this kind of wax to keep them free from all chemical contaminants. However if you choose to consume the skin of a non waxed conventionally grown cucumber, I recommend you to thoroughly wash the whole cucumber under cool running water while gently scrubbing with a natural bristle brush. Some people including my mother have a personal preference for removing cucumber seeds. My mother was advised by my uncle not to remove cucumber seeds and to have them as such because they contain rich sources of nutrients.
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Different varieties of Cucumbers
- American slicing cucumbers are the oblong, dark green cubes you see in supermarkets. Varieties of this type have been bred for uniformity, productivity and strong disease resistance.
- Pickling cucumbers bear smaller fruits with bumpy, slightly wrinkled rinds that make them naturally crisp and firm.
- Asian cucumbers are long and slender, with small seed cavities. Non bitter Asian cucumbers are easy to digest, and are also not preferred by cucumber beetles.
- Greenhouse cucumbers produce self fertile female flowers, so you can grow many varieties of this slightly shade tolerant type under row covers or in high tunnels.
- Other Curcumas’ species include ‘Armenian’ and ‘Indian Poona Keera’ cucumbers ‘West Indian’ gherkin and jelly melon also called African horned melon
Easy Home cleaning with cucumber
- Defogger: Do you get annoyed when you get out of the shower and you have to fight the fog on the mirror? Who has time for that when the kids will wake up any moment? Try rubbing a slice of cucumber on the mirror before you hop in and not only will you get a fog-free mirror, but you’ll have a nice smell that will boost your mood.
- WD-40 replacement: Did you know you can get rid of a squeak by rubbing a cucumber on the hinge? Wow, now you don’t have to tear your garage apart looking for that little can with the red straw, and the baby won’t wake up when you slowly open the nursery door to check on him
- Crayon on the walls: Take an unpeeled cucumber and rub the crayon off the walls in the event that your kid left you some art. You can also use this technique to erase a pen mistake.
- Tarnish remover: If you’re finding tarnish on your stainless steel kitchen faucets and appliances? Rub it off with a cucumber slice. Not only will it remove years of tarnish, it will leave it streak free and your hands will thank you, and your kids won’t be put at risk from a dangerous chemical.
- Shoe polish: Cut a slice off your cucumber and rub it on your shoe. It will not only shine it up, but it will repel water
- Pest control: Put three or four slices of cucumber in a small pie tin and place them in your garden. The chemicals in the cucumber have a reaction that pests hate. You won’t smell it, but it will drive them from your garden all year long. Replace them periodically.
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Health benefits of Cucumber
- Keeps you hydrated. If you are too busy to drink enough water, munch on the cool cucumber, which is 96 percent water. It will cheerfully compensate for the lack of water
- Fights heat, both inside and out. Eat cucumber and your body gets relief from heartburn.
- Apply cucumber on your skin, and you get relief from sunburn.
- All that water in cucumber acts as a virtual broom, sweeping waste products out of your system. With regular use, cucumber is known to dissolve kidney stones.
- Cucumbers contain silicon and sulfur and they can help promote hair growth by mixing cucumber juice with carrot, lettuce or spinach juice.
- Cucumber has friendly minerals such as magnesium, pottasium and silicon. That’s why cucumber-based treatments abound in spas.
- Aids in weight loss so enjoy cucumbers in your salads and soups. Credits: http://www.bollywoodshaadis.com/
- Revives the eyes. Placing chilled slices of cucumber on the eyes is a clichéd beauty visual, but it really helps reduce under-eye bags and puffiness.
- Cut down your risk of several cancers by including cucumber in your diet. Several studies show its cancer-fighting potential.
- Patients of blood pressure, both high and low, often find that eating cucumber brings relief
- Cucumber juice refreshes and heals diseased gums, leaving your mouth smelling good.
- Chewing cucumber gives the jaws a good workout, and the fiber in it is great for digestion.
- Silica, the wonder mineral in cucumber makes your hair and nails stronger and shine.
- All those vitamins and minerals in cucumber make it a powerful enemy of muscle and joint pain
- Cucumber lowers uric acid levels in your system, keeping the kidneys happy.
- Patients with diabetes can enjoy cucumber while also reaping its health benefits: cucumber contains a hormone needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin.
- If you suffer from headaches from chasing your babies all day or had a little too much wine with dinner and want to avoid a hangover, eat half of a cucumber before bed.
- A compound called sterols in cucumber helps reduce bad cholesterol.
- If you’re feeling tired in the afternoon, don’t give Starbucks coffee your five bucks. Instead, grab a cucumber. There are just enough carbohydrates and B vitamins to give you a longer lasting and healthier boost of energy than soda, coffee, or those health hazard energy drinks.
- The seeds of a cucumber are a diuretic. If you’re constipated, try eating a cucumber. If you suffer from chronic constipation, add cucumber to your daily diet.
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I have heard and used the term “cool as a cucumber”. It means that one is as cool as this vegetable’s characteristics. It cools the temperature of the blood. I am totally amazed how this vegetable really is useful in our day to day life. I eat cucumber everyday and yes it cools the blood and eases facial swelling when applied, which is why I recommend all of you to have cucumbers stocked in your fridge. Having salads and other dishes made of cucumber really will make your skin glow.