Botanical name: Cucumis sativus e Cucumis flexuosus
The cucumber is a millenary berry, a product of the garden, wonderful and ancient, widespread and always appreciated on our tables for the freshness and goodness of its flavor, but also for the many beneficial properties that it brings to our health.
This berry, with the scientific name "peponide", is the fruit of a plant with a herbaceous stem, belonging to the cucurbitaceae family, which also includes pumpkins, courgettes, melons and watermelons. The plant, with yellow flowers, during its growth has a creeping or climbing pattern, depending on the variety. Its fruits, from light green to intense green, are cylindrical in shape, with a smooth or rough skin, reaching various lengths, from 6 to 40 cm. The very small ones are suitable to be preserved in vinegar or in oil, while the very large ones are mainly suitable to be eaten fresh. Cucumber is an annual plant that is sown in the garden from April to the end of May and which, in order to develop at its best, requires high temperatures and a non-clayey but rich and humid soil, of medium dough. In addition to cultivating it in open ground, it can also be sown in small quantities in pots, preferably in terracotta and with a diameter of at least 30 cm.
Origins and history
Originally from India, its history finds knowledge and wide use even going back in time. In fact, in ancient Rome, as well as in ancient Greece, the properties of this fruit were already known, the pulp of which was widely used as a source of nourishment. Its juice, on the other hand, was used, by squeezing, as a thirst-quenching drink or, if necessary, as an emollient on the parts of the body affected by burns or abrasions.
From the low slopes of the Himalayas, where the plant was born, it then spread widely in crops throughout the Mediterranean area, by the Egyptians.
Today cucumber is more than ever recognized as a vegetable with countless benefits and has become one of the protagonists of our gardens.
Nutritional and beneficial properties of the cucumber
Cucumber boasts, together with numerous other products of the earth, multiple properties and health characteristics, among these, a high moisturizing power and an antitumor and cell protective action. Its pulp contains a considerable presence of water, which reaches a percentage of 96% in the ripe fruit. But it is in its skin that all virtues are concentrated. In fact, it is rich in important minerals that our body needs, such as potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and the most precious vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, necessary for the perfect functioning of sight and bones and magnificent allies for general physical well-being.
The presence of vitamins of group B, such as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, together with a high presence of antioxidants and lignans, contained in the peel of the cucumber , make this fruit a precious friend of the beauty of our skin and the health of our organism.
In light of these nutritional characteristics, it is important not to lack a good quantity of this vegetable on our table, paying attention to eat it without peeling it in order to reap more benefits.
Use of the cucumber in the kitchen
This green and rich product that the vegetable garden gives us in the summer, contains very few calories, 16 per 100 grams, and, thanks to the tartaric acid, it carries out a fat burning action so it lends itself well to being eaten raw, as a snack, or in the preparation of tasty and refreshing dishes.
One of the simplest ways is surely to enjoy it in salads, alone, with a small amount of salt, oil and vinegar as you like, or add it to pasta salad, a typical summer dish, easy and quick to make.
There are many recipes in the kitchen where the main ingredient is cucumber, among these some very simple and appetizing, such as rolls, whose preparation does not require cooking but only fresh ingredients such as bresaola and ricotta, or tartare to combine with avocado, tomatoes or melon for an exciting combination of flavors. An alternative way to use and make the most of the qualities of this delicious fruit is also to make it the ingredient of a thirst-quenching drink, dipping it, cut into rounds, in a jug of water together. a few slices of lemon and an ice cube. The result is excellent, a hydrating and purifying cocktail that replenishes the mineral salts that are lost during the summer season.