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Cucumbers: perfect for “clean eating”

Cool as a cucumber is the literal truth thanks to their high water content.

 

Cucumbers are most refreshing to eat and perfect for low-calorie recipes.100 grams of cucumber has just 12 kilocalories. Because most of the healthful substances, such as calcium, sodium and vitamin A are to be found in the skin of the cucumber, you should simply wash a cucumber well, but not peel it.

More versatile than you might think

Most people eat cucumbers raw, sliced into a salad. But have you ever thought of stewing or stir-frying cubes of cucumber? Of course, cucumber salad with chopped dill and a vinaigrette dressing is still a classic. Cucumber becomes more digestible if you salt it only just before you eat it. Cucumbers can be combined with potatoes, apples, goats cheese, avocado, couscous and bulgur. Its fresh aroma improves dips and sauces and goes well with all sorts of meat and fish. Think of a Spanish gazpacho made with cucumber, tomato, paprika, onions and garlic. And a cucumber-yogurt lassi is delicious and very refreshing. It’s easy to make too: simply puree cucumber, skimmed milk, a pinch of wasabi, a pinch of salt and a dash of white wine vinegar.

Choose cucumbers grown outdoors in summer

Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) belong to the same family as pumpkins, squash and courgettes. Cucumbers are available to buy the whole year round; most of them are grown under glass or in polytunnels, but in summer you’ll be able to get cucumbers grown outdoors. The big cucumber-growing countries in Europe are the Netherlands and Spain.

Buying and storing cucumbers

When you’re buying cucumbers look for dark green ones with smooth skins that are firm to touch. If you’ve bought a shrinkwrapped cucumber, leave the wrapping on until you’re ready to wash and eat it, because the plastic film will keep it fresh. Cucumbers are sensitive to cold – temperatures under 12 degrees Celsius will result in soft, watery patches. So it’s better not to store cucumbers in the fridge. Once cut, however, cucumbers should be kept in the vegetable drawer, where they’ll last for a couple of days. Don’t store cucumbers next to tomatoes or apples, because they exude ethylene which cause fruit to ripen quickly, so your cucumber could become overripe, soggy and bitter.

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.bzfe.de