The Coolness of Cucumbers

To be “cool as a cucumber” add them to your menus during the warm summer months when they are in season. When it’s tomato season, that  means it’s cucumber season too. Although slicing cucumbers are available year round, they are at their best from May through August. 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.

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.

The silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissue, which includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone. Cucumber juice is often recommended as a source of silica 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.

Cooked Curried Cucumbers

When you cook cucumbers, they soften yet retain much of their crunchy texture. Cooked cucumbers go well with protein or grain dishes.

4 medium locally grown cucumbers, peeled if waxed, or 2 European/English cucumbers

1 tablespoon organic canola oil or organic extra virgin olive oil

1 small organic onion, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced across the grain

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon curry powder (more to taste)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon chopped fresh organic chives or cilantro

1. If using regular cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Slice on the diagonal about 1/4 inch thick. If using long European cucumbers, peel, if desired, and slice on the diagonal about 1/4 inch thick.

2. Heat the oil in a large lidded skillet or saucepan over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add a pinch of salt and the curry powder, and stir together for another minute. Add the cucumber, and cook, stirring, for three minutes. Stir in the wine, and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat and cook until the liquid evaporates. Season to taste with salt, remove from the heat and stir in the chives or cilantro. Serve hot, room temperature or cold.

Yield: Serves four to six.

Advance preparation: You can make these several hours before serving and reheat.

Nutritional information per serving (based on four servings): 88 calories; 4 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 7 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during cooking); 2 grams protein

Nutritional information per serving (based on six servings): 58 calories; 3 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 5 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 4 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during cooking); 1 gram protein

Original recipe via.