(Cucumis Sativa)


Dm / B dim / Am


Did you ever wonder,
About a cucumber?
If you're ever in a pickle,
They can come in handy.

Even if you're fickle,
Your taste,
It'll tickle,
Make haste,
And, don't waste,
The skin...
Take it all in!

Now, here's a quandary:

Q: What happens if you slumber,
With a cucumber?
A: You'll throw a swell,
Fertility spell.

For crying out loud,
What's a salad,
Without one?
The wonder of the cucumber!
I mean,
Fiber packed,
With its own canteen,
The wonder of the cucumber!
With vitamins A & C,
While still having room,
For calcium,
The wonder of the cucumber!
Did you know...
The silica,
Will help ya'...
The wonder of the cucumber!
Go ahead,
There's nothing to dread,
Help vanquish skin blemish,
And, serve a dish,
Be cool as a cucumber,
If you remember,
It'll help cure,
High blood pressure,
The wonder of the cucumber!

May your life endure.


Sacred Vegetables to the Fall Equinox
by Sandra Peterson

Latin name: Cucumis sativa
Common names: cuke, Cowcumber

Herbal uses: Cucumber seeds are distinctly diuretic. It is also said that cucumber peel if bound around the head will cure a headache.

Associations: Cucumber is associated with the moon and the element of water.

Magical uses: Cucumber is used in healing and fertility magic. For a fertility spell: keep a cucumber in your bedroom, and replace it every seven days.

From the University of Illinois
Cucumber is a tender, warm-season vegetable that produces well when given proper care and protection. The vines of standard varieties grow rapidly and require substantial space. Vertical training methods and new dwarf varieties now allow cucumbers to be grown for slicing, salads and pickling, even in small garden plots.

Cucumbers add a crisp snap to salads and sandwiches, however they are not a very good source of nutrients. The most abundant nutrient in cucumbers is water. A small amount of beta carotene is found in the green peel, but once peeled the level drops to nearly zero.

Nutrition Facts (6 large or 8 small raw cucumber slices with peel)

                        Calories 5
                        Protein trace
                        Dietary fiber 1 gram 
                        Carbohydrates 1 gram
                        Calcium 7 mg
                        Vitamin A 70 IU
                        Vitamin C 3 mg
                        Iron trace

Cucumbers are often soaked in salt water to remove some of the naturally high water content. Cucumbers will otherwise give up water and dilute the salad dressing. Unpeeled cucumbers are higher in nutritional value as fiber and vitamin A are lost by peeling.

Aside from pickling, there is no practical way to preserve cucumbers. There are many ways to make a pickle. They can be fermented or quick packed in a vinegar solution and processed in a boiling water bath and kept on the shelf for up to a year. There is no great challenge to making pickles. Pickles can be made by the quart or by the five-gallon crock. For those who do not know how to can, pickles can be made in the refrigerator or in the freezer. Pickling cucumbers are best to use because the skin is less bitter than slicing cucumbers and they have smaller and fewer seeds. However, you can successful substitute slicing cucumbers.

Below are two ways to make pickles without canning.

Refrigerator Dill Chips
Pickled cucumbers add spice and texture to sandwiches and meals. For highest quality pickles, use cucumbers that are no more the 24 hours from the vine. Use "pure" or pickling salt in this recipe. Table salt contains additives that make a cloudy brine and off color pickles.

                        2 to 2-1/2 cups sliced cucumbers, about 1/4 inch thick 
                        2-1/2 teaspoons pickling salt 
                        2 springs fresh dill, about 6 inches long or 1 tablespoon dry dill
                        seed or 1 head of fresh dill 
                        2 cloves garlic 
                        1/2 cup white distilled vinegar 
                        1/2 cup water 

Prepare the jar, lid and screwband. Wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and drain. Combine the sliced cucumbers and 1-1/2 teaspoons of the pickling salt. Toss well. Cover with cold water and let stand for 2 to 3 hours. Drain.

In a clean, hot, 1 pint jar, put the dill, garlic, and remaining 1 teaspoon pickling salt. Add the cucumbers slices leaving 1/2 inch head space. Push slices down and firmly pack. Combine water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Pour hot vinegar solution over cucumbers.

Use a plastic knife or spatula to release air bubbles. Insert knife down the side of the jar and gently push cucumber slices toward the center so that the vinegar solution gets between the slices. Pour on more hot vinegar solution if necessary. Leave 1/2 inch headspace (the space between the rim of the jar and its contents). Wipe the rim. Put the lid and screwband in place. Refrigerate for six weeks before eating.

Nontraditional Sweet Freezer Pickles
This is not your typical pickle recipe. No special equipment or ingredients are needed. This recipe produces a crisp, sweet pickle that goes well in salads, on sandwiches or as a side. The secret to the crisp texture is the sugar, so do not reduce the sugar in the recipe. This recipe works well with slicing, pickling, seedless or hothouse cucumbers.

                        2 quarts cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced (use any variety of cucumber) 
                        1 medium onion, sliced thinly 
                        1 tablespoon salt (table salt, canning salt or kosher salt can be used) 
                        1-1/2 cups sugar 
                        1/2 cup white distilled vinegar 

Mix cucumbers, onions and salt in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set the bowl on the counter for 2 hours. Pour into a colander and drain water from cucumber mixture. Combine sugar and vinegar. Stir well and pour over cucumbers. Pack into freezer containers or zip-closure bags. Freeze immediately. Pickles are ready to eat in 3 or 4 days. They will keep in the freezer for up to one year.

From the World's Healthiest Foods
Health Benefits
The flesh of cucumbers is primarily composed of water but also contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and caffeic acid, both of which help soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling. Cucumbers'hard skin is rich in fiber and contains a variety of beneficial minerals including silica, potassium and magnesium.

A Radiant Complexion
The silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissue, which includes intracellular cement, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone. Cucumber juice is often recommended as a source of silicon to improve the complexion and health of the skin, plus cucumber's high water content makes it naturally hydrating--a must for glowing skin. Cucumbers are also used topically for various types of skin problems, including swelling under the eyes and sunburn. Two compounds in cucumbers, ascorbic acid and caffeic acid, prevent water retention, which may explain why cucumbers applied topically are often helpful for swollen eyes, burns and dermatitis.

An Easy Way to Increase Your Consumption of Both Fiber and Water
Trying to get adequate dietary fiber on a daily basis is a challenge for many Americans. Adding a crunchy cool cucumber to your salads is an especially good way to increase your fiber intake because cucumber comes naturally prepackaged with the extra fluid you need when consuming more fiber. Plus, you get the added bonus of vitamin C, silica, potassium and magnesium.

High Blood Pressure?
Cucumber Can Help You Cool Down When people who participated in the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Study added foods high in potassium, magnesium and fiber, their blood pressure dropped to healthier levels. Those people in the study who ate a diet rich in these compounds in addition to the other foods on this diet (low fat dairy foods, seafood, lean meat and poultry) lowered their blood pressure by 5.5 points (systolic) over 3.0 points (diastolic).

The phrase "cool as a cucumber" is not without merit. This vegetable's high water content gives it a very unique moist and cooling taste.

Cucumbers, scientifically known as Cucumis sativus, are grown to either be eaten fresh or to be pickled. Those that are to be eaten fresh are commonly called slicing cucumbers. They are cylindrical in shape and commonly range in length from about six to nine inches, although they can smaller or much larger. Their skin, which ranges in color from green to white, may either be smoothed or ridged depending upon the variety. Inside a cucumber is a very pale green flesh that is dense yet aqueous and crunchy at the same time, as well as numerous edible fleshy seeds. Some varieties, which are grown in greenhouses, are seedless, have thinner skins and are longer in length, usually between 12 and 20 inches. These varieties are often referred to as "burpless" cucumbers since people find them easier to digest than the other varieties of cucumbers.

Cucumbers that are cultivated to make pickles are oftentimes much smaller than slicing cucumbers. Gherkins are one variety of cucumbers cultivated for this purpose.

Cucumbers were thought to originate over 10,000 years ago in southern Asia. Early explorers and travelers introduced this vegetable to India and other parts of Asia. It was very popular in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome, whose people used it not only as a food but for its beneficial skin healing properties. Greenhouse cultivation of cucumbers was originally invented during the time of Louis XIV, who greatly appreciated this delightful vegetable. Cucumbers were introduced to the United States by the early colonists.

While it is unknown when the pickling process was developed, researchers speculate that the gherkin variety of cucumber was developed from a plant native to Africa. During ancient times, Spain was one of the countries that was pickling cucumbers since Roman emperors were said to have imported them from this Mediterranean country.

How to Select and Store
As cucumbers are very sensitive to heat, choose ones that are displayed in refrigerated cases in the market. They should be firm, rounded at their edges, and their color should be a bright medium to dark green. Avoid cucumbers that are yellow, puffy, have sunken water-soaked areas, or are wrinkled at their tips. Thinner cucumbers will generally have less seeds than those that are thicker. While many people are used to purchasing cucumbers that have a waxed coating, it is highly recommended to choose those that are unwaxed, so the nutrient-rich skin can be eaten without consuming the wax and any chemicals trapped in it.

Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep for several days. If you do not use the entire cucumber during one meal, wrap the remainder tightly in plastic or place it in a sealed container so that it does not become dried out. For maximum quality, cucumber should be used within one or two days. Cucumbers should not be left out at room temperature for too long as this will cause them to wilt and become limp.

Tips for Preparing Cucumbers:
Unwaxed cucumbers do not need to be peeled but should be washed before cutting. Waxed cucumbers should always be peeled first. Cucumbers can be sliced, diced or cut into sticks. While the seeds are edible and nutritious, some people prefer not to eat them. To easily remove them, cut the cucumber lengthwise and use the tip of a spoon to gently scoop them out.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Use half-inch thick cucumber slices as petite serving "dishes" for chopped vegetable salads.

Make a delightful cool cucumber compote by sautéing cubed cucumbers with dill in a little vegetable stock for a few minutes. Remove from the heat, chill, then top with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprig of dill or parsley before serving.

Mix diced cucumbers with sugar snap peas and mint leaves and toss with a rice wine vinaigrette.

Make healthy cucumber tempura by dredging cucumber slices in wheat flour and then beaten egg. Bake on a cookie sheet in a medium-low heat oven (around 300° Farenheit) until crispy, then serve with a dipping sauce or dressing of your choice.

For a refreshing cold gazpacho soup that takes five minutes or less to make, simply purée cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and onions, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Add chopped sweet or dill pickles to tuna fish or chicken salad recipes.

Virtually all municipal drinking water in the United States contains pesticide residues, and with the exception of organic foods, so do the majority of foods in the U.S. food supply. Even though pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well documented. The liver's ability to process other toxins, the cells' ability to produce energy, and the nerves' ability to send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. Individuals wanting to avoid these health risks may want to avoid consumption of cucumbers unless grown organically, since cucumbers are among the 20 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found.

In addition, cucumbers, like other fragile vegetables, may be waxed to protect them from bruising during shipping. Plant, insect, animal or petroleum-based waxes may be used. Carnauba palm is the most common plant-source wax. Other compounds, such as ethyl alcohol or ethanol, are added to the waxes for consistency, milk casein (a protein linked to milk allergy) for "film formers" and soaps for flowing agents. Since you may not be able to determine the source of these waxes, this is another good reason to choose organically grown cucumbers.

Nutritional Profile
Cucumbers are a very good source of the vitamins C and A. Plus, you'll find that cucumbers are a very good source of dietary fiber and some important minerals including silica, potassium, magnesium, folate, and molybdenum.

oAppel LJ, Moore TJ, Obarzanek E, et al. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. DASH Collaborative Research Group. N Engl J Med. 1997 Apr 17;336(16):1117-24. oDuke J. The Green Pharmacy. St Martin's Press 1997. oEnsminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. oLevin B. Environmental Nutrition. Hingepin Press 1999. oWood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.

More From This Album

Back To:
Some Food For Thought

The Music Of

© The Philadelphia Spirit Experiment Publishing Company &
These graphics, images, text copy, sights or sounds may not be used without our expressed written consent.