Looking for a cool, crisp and juicy cure for the summertime blues? Versatile, fat-free and filled with vitamin C, refreshing cucumbers are a summer staple, seen everywhere from creeping vines in backyard gardens to colourful salads enjoyed at picnics in the park.
Best of all, no-fuss cukes require little or no prep, ready to be tossed in salads, stuffed into pitas, even blended in soups-perfect for quick dinners on the deck or light pool-side snacking.
- While cucumbers are available year-round, they're best in late spring and early summer.
- The all-purpose, dark green slicing cucumber is one of the most common varieties. English or hothouse, sometimes called "burpless" are longer, thin-skinned slicing cucumbers that have virtually no seeds, and are usually wrapped in plastic.
- Picklers are generally smaller, squat, light-skinned cucumbers used for pickling, while gherkins are smaller, spiny cucumbers also used exclusively for pickling.
- Choose cucumbers that are firm, with smooth, brightly coloured skins. Avoid those that are yellow or have soft, wrinkled or shriveled areas.
- Unwashed, whole cucumbers can be stored in the refrigerator up to 1 week if sealed in a plastic bag.
- Cut cucumbers can be tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Preparation / Cooking
- Some cucumbers have a "waxy" coating to prolong shelf life. These need to be peeled; others should simply be washed thoroughly.
- To seed a cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds using a small spoon.
- Cucumbers make a great base for hors d'oevres. Cut cucumbers into thick slices and top with your favourite variety of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Garnish to your heart's content with fresh herbs, finely chopped peppers, or chopped olives.
- For an attractive appearance, "score" unpeeled cucumbers by running a fork down the sides before slicing or cubing.