Latin name: Cucumis sativus
Other names: cuke
Uses: vegetable

Is it a fruit, a vegetable, or a berry? The humble cucumber is, technically, all of the above. From the same family as melons and squashes, cucumber plants are annual and survive only one growing season. This cooling ingredient has rightfully become the perfect simile for describing an easy-going state of being.

Why is cucumber healthy?

One of the most hydrating foods we can consume, cucumbers are over 90% water. Try them as a post-exercise snack or after a meal of salty food. Cucumbers are also rich in polyphenol compounds that studies show can reduce oxidative stress.

What does cucumber taste like?

Cucumbers are typically divided into slicing types, meant to be consumed fresh, and pickling types better for preserving. The former are usually larger with thicker, dark green skin, while the latter are smaller with a thinner covering. Overall, cucumbers have a mild, slightly bittersweet flavour and are very refreshing thanks to their high water content. 

Where does cucumber grow?

Cultivated for at least 3,000 years, the cucumber originated somewhere between China and the foothills of the Himalayas in India. Trade introduced the crop to Europe, with records of cultivation appearing in France around the 9th century. By the 14th century, it had reached England and then spread across North America around the middle of the 16th century. Today, different variants grow around the world. You may discover white, yellow, and even orange-hued cucumbers in a variety of shapes depending on where you live.

How do I prepare cucumber and what do I pair it with?

It’s best to eat fresh cucumbers with the skin and seed intact, after a thorough wash under running water. Their cooling quality make them great to add to juices or infused water, so if you’re a newbie, start there. Best eaten raw, cucumbers are a staple of salads, sandwiches, and yogurt sauces like Indian raita and Greek tzatziki. Try a salad with finely sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, peppers, pineapple, and avocado tossed in garlic oil and sea salt. During summertime, a cold cucumber soup is a refreshing treat.

Cucumber’s inherent mildness makes it play well with lots of flavors, whether in a stir-fry or as a side dish. From the Korean nogak namul (cooked cucumber) and oi bokkeum (sautéed cucumber) to the Indian Andhra style dosakaya (cucumber curry) and Maharashtrian kakdi koshimbir (cucumber salad), and the Japanese sunomono (sweet-sour salad) and kyuri bainikuae (cucumber with plum sauce), there are countless possibilities.

A host of cuisines – Asian, American, Mediterranean, British, Polish, Swedish – have their own version of pickled cucumber, preserved in vinegar or through lacto-fermentation. Across the US and Canada, a pickled cucumber is simply referred to as a pickle.

Surprising fact:

According to Pliny the Elder, Roman Emperor Tiberius insisted that the cucumber be included on his dining table every day and through all seasons.


Armenian Cucumber & Summer Melon Salad

Little Gems & Cucumber with Sorrel-Buttermilk Dressing

Liangban Huanggua