Cucumbers belong to the same family as marrows and courgettes. They are believed to have originated in Asia and have been grown in India for some 3,000 years. The Victorians bred a good selection of colour into their cucumbers – and thus white, yellow, bronze and bluish hues as well as the more usual green-skinned type are grown.
Also in the nineteenth century, oval-shaped cucumbers were grown by the French and were much in demand by perfumeries. Long ago cucumber had a reputation as a beauty aid especially for keeping the skin white. It’s use as a cooling eye pack is much better known these days. Cucumbers have a unique texture and refreshing cool taste. They are generally eaten raw, but can be blanched and refreshed or boiled.
The skin of cucumbers contains folic acid and Vitamin A, known as carotene, wash well but do not peel for extra goodness.
Areas grown: Primarily North County Dublin and eastern seaboard counties.
How to Store
Store cucumbers in the vegetable drawer section of the fridge, they are not suited to intense cold. Alternatively, place them stem end down in a glass of cold water with the cut end covered with foil. Keep the glass in a cool place away from strong light. Because of their high water content, cucumbers do not freeze satisfactorily. Although it is possible to freeze them in made-up dishes such as soups.
How to Cook
Cucumbers are generally used as a salad ingredient, a garnish or sandwich filling. Stuffed for baking or stewing, they can be treated in the same way as marrows or courgettes. They can also be peeled, sliced thickly, dipped in coating batter and deep-fried. Cucumber soup can be served hot or cold while grated cucumber mixed with natural yoghurt or sour cream makes an excellent dressing.