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The most refreshing vegetable that summer has to offer
The dark green cucumber is perhaps the most refreshing summer vegetable out there. When sliced thinly, it can be added to just about anything. The Romans called it the "water bottle of the vegetable garden" – and rightly so, because 95 per cent of it consists of water, making it one of the best low-calorie vegetables. Due to its high percentage of water, the cucumber is also very good for the skin. A cucumber face mask is a very popular choice for moisturising and refreshing the skin. The cucumber is eaten unripe – if it were ripe, it would be yellow in colour.
A distinction is made between a large slicing cucumber and a small pickling cucumber. Both are relatives of the pumpkin and the melon, and have a similarly high water content as the latter. Pickling cucumbers are somewhat firmer than the larger slicing cucumbers. The flavour of pickled cucumbers depends on whether they are pickled with vinegar, salt or spices and herbs.
When eaten plain and on their own, cucumbers have a lightly sour and bitter taste. Another important characteristic of a cucumber is that it has a crunchy bite and a refreshing flavour. If the cucumber is not pickled, the crispness and the water content of the vegetable are sure signs of the quality of the vegetable. In addition to its refreshing flavour and its firm bite, the cucumber also has very few calories, and can therefore appear on your menu as often as you like.
There are two theories surrounding the origins of the popular vegetable. The first is that it was originally cultivated in India, the second claims that it originated in Africa and came to Europe via the Mediterranean. Today, there are approximately 40 different varieties of cucumber grown all over the world. They grow wherever they can find enough water and warmth – including central Europe in the summer. Freshly harvested cucumbers that do not have to be transported a long way have a better taste.
|Calories||13 kcal per 100g|
|Nutrients||2g carbohydrate, 0.8g fibre, 0.1g fat, 0.7g protein per 100g|
|Season||mid-April to September (in Switzerland)|
|Storage||vegetable drawer of the refrigerator|
|Shelf life||approx. one week, chopped between 2-3 days|
You can recognise a good-quality cucumber by its dark green and smooth skin and its firmness. If it has soft, yellow spots, it is no longer good. This applies to both slicing cucumbers and to the small pickling cucumbers, which are mostly available in summer and can then be pickled at home however you like.
Since most of the cucumber’s nutrients can be found just under the skin, it’s best to wash the cucumber under running water rather than peel it. The dark green skin is also a pleasant contrast to other light-coloured fruit or vegetables in salads.
Although the cucumber has hardly any calories, it has plenty of nutrients. It is therefore no wonder that the vegetable is popular all over the world. Besides the pickled cucumber that is known far and wide, there are plenty of other popular recipes that can’t do without the green vegetable. For cold soups, cucumber is often mixed together with other fresh ingredients such as yoghurt and lemon. A special version of this cold soup is the cucumber soup with matcha.
A new trend is to add fresh cucumber to your drinks – give it a go! The green vegetable often complements drinks with lemon, lime, and other fruits; it can even replace them completely. Whether with a gin or vodka long drink, or in flavoured water – the fresh, slightly sour cucumbers add a special something to summer drinks.
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