Summer has settled in and now no one wants to heat up their kitchens! If you want to keep your cool—both in the kitchen and out—you need look no further than the delightfully crisp and crunchy vegetable staple, the cucumber. We’re now harvesting lots of them at Fairgate Farm.
This easy-to-eat, low-cal snack can and should be a menu staple, especially during these hot summer months. And here’s the really good news: experts are just beginning to tune into all the good nutrition these veggies have to offer.
Cucumbers are incredibly healthy! They are rich in compounds known as lignans, helpful in fighting heart disease and several kinds of cancer (breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate). Cukes contain lots of vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, potassium, magnesium and fiber, which means they help regulate blood pressure (controlling both high and low bp). Digestion troubles? Joint problems? Arthritis pain? High cholesterol? The cucumber is good for what ails you. And their high water content makes them especially healthful and refreshing in hot, humid weather.
But cukes aren’t just good eating. They are good for your skin too! They contain minerals and plant acids that are soothing to sunburn, great for puffy eyes and excellent at moisturizing the skin. They also contain silica, great for your hair and skin.
Lots of what’s good in cucumbers is contained in the skin and in the seeds; organically grown cucumbers contain no harmful chemical compounds so they’re perfectly safe to eat as is. (If you buy waxed cukes from the supermarket that aren’t organic, either scrub or peel before eating.) You’ll find two main types of cukes—slicing or pickling—in just about every market. The pickling kinds (Kirbies, Persians, and English) have thin, bumpy skin. Store cucumbers in the fridge, where they’ll last several days in the crisper.
- Mix diced cucumbers with sugar snap peas and torn mint leaves. Toss with a rice-wine vinaigrette.
- Chilled cucumber soup: combine yogurt, fresh dill and cucumber in a blender. Add salt and pepper, then puree.
- Chopped salad: Chop cucumbers and tomatoes then toss with red onion, red pepper and shredded basil leaves. Add protein: white beans, chopped, cooked chicken, and/or toasted walnuts. Dress with your favorite vinaigrette.
Fun Facts: Cucumbers are the 4th most cultivated vegetable in the world! They belong to the same botanical family as melons (including watermelon and cantaloupe) and squashes (including summer squash, winter squash, zucchini and pumpkin). Cucumber skins can be used to wipe crayon and pen marks off of walls … as a quick shoe-shine … and a way to remove tarnish and add shine to your kitchen and bathroom faucets!
NEWS FROM FAIRGATE FARM:
Wow, it has been a hot and dry July after that cool and wet June! At the Farm we’ve been working early mornings, weekdays and Saturdays, and are now harvesting peppers and cucumbers, with green beans, beets and tomatoes coming up next. As a communal farm, we’d love to have you get involved … and a bonus is, volunteers get to take home some of the day’s harvest after working! Please give us a call at 203-667-7280 if you’d like to help out.
Another way to get free, farm-fresh produce! Like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/vitastamford) and message us with your name and address. We’ll send you this bright orange bag to bring to Fairgate Farm to fill with just-picked fruits and vegetables or seedlings to grow in your own kitchen garden. We’re here Saturdays from 10 am – noon and Wednesdays from 4:30 – 5:30. It’s a good idea to call first: 203-667-7280