It’s not only the most refreshing of all vegetables, cucumber is also one of the first vegetables to be cultivated – in fact it is believed that humans have grown them for several thousand years.
Cucumbers can contain over 90 percent water, giving them their highly refreshing quality.
Although there are more than one hundred varieties cultivated around the world, most
people would only be familiar with the few that are commonly available in their countries.
The two varieties I grew up with where the common smooth, dark green skinned
type with lots of seeds and a jelly-like centre, or the white skinned apple type.
The problem with those varieties is the skin can be tough-as-leather and the often-bitter seeds will send anything else they are served with soggy. They are also believed to cause indigestion.
Nowadays the most popular would be the Continental (or telegraph) variety, the skin is tender and there are considerably less seeds giving them the nickname of ‘burpless cucumber’.
Other smaller cucumbers with very thin skins are grown for pickling, used to make gherkins and dill pickles.
Indians produce a refreshing accompaniment for hot curries called ‘raita’, where the water is remove from the thinly sliced cucumber with salt and then mixed with natural yoghurt.
Cucumber Dip for Anything
Skin, deseed and finely chop one Lebanese cucumber, then combine in a bowl with one garlic clove (crushed), one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, one tablespoon of fresh chopped mint, one cup of natural yoghurt. Season with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate for three hours before eating.
- 2 slices bread, cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 4 ripe tomatoes
- 1 red capsicum, seeded, chopped
- 1 continental cucumber, seeded and finely chopped (reserve half)
- ½ long red chili, seeded
- 3 red onions, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Place bread, vinegar and garlic into a bowl and leave for 10 minutes.
- Transfer the bread into a blender with sugar, tomato, capsicum, cucumber, chili and onions, and then blend until smooth.
- With the blender running, pour in olive oil in a thin stream until emulsified.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer gazpacho to a large jug, cover and refrigerate until chilled.
- Just before serving, stir well with ice cubes and add extra finely chopped cucumber as a garnish.