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Interesting properties of the cucumber

The cucumber, though it originated in India, is today a staple of both Italian and Western cuisines. It grows from a climber-type plant that needs extremely nutrient-rich soil. It can, however, adjust to the Mediterranean climate flawlessly. The species is related to both watermelon and pumpkin because it belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. The flavour, though, is completely different from that of pumpkin and watermelon.

The cucumber is appreciated for its aromatic flavour; however, it is not suitable for all palates, and for a fundamental characteristic, in fact, it is extremely dietary. Indeed, it is one of the least caloric foods in nature: 100 grammes of cucumber contain only 11 calories.

Much like vegetables, it is also a nutritious vegetable, as it contains many mineral salts and vitamins. The reference is to vitamin A, vitamin C, and some of group B, as well as potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. The dietary power of cucumber is also demonstrated by the presence of tartaric acid, a substance that limits the transformation of carbohydrates into fats.

The different varieties

There are numerous varieties of cucumbers, and they all differ in colour, size, and partially in flavour.

  • Potomac: It’s the perfect little cucumber for pickling.
  • Burpless: It is characterised by a dark green skin, an above-average length, and a not-too-acrid flavour.
  • Paris (or Parisian) cucumbers: It is a variant that, unlike what the name suggests, does not excel in terms of flavour, size, or pleasantness. It has thick skin and a delicate taste, making it ideal for pickles and cocktails.
  • White: A rather rare variety (at least in Italy). It is characterised by white skin and an above-average thickness. The flavour is a little less acidic than other varieties.
  • Sensation: It is a very thin cucumber with dark skin and a delicate and pleasant flavour. It is ideal for salads.

Some ideas to enhance this vegetable

Its distinct flavour makes it a popular choice for a side dish or to complement second courses. The recipes that follow serve as examples of this. I am referring in particular to trout fillets, a preparation in which this vegetable heavily affects the taste.

Because of its unusual yet perfectly matched flavour combination, it is also incredibly intriguing in cocktails.

The benefits of cucumber

Cucumbers are beneficial vegetables as, unlike other plant species, they act on a broad spectrum in multiple organs of our body. For example, they benefit the cardiovascular system as they regulate blood pressure. This function is due to the abundance of potassium and its ability to promote the expulsion of excess fluids. Because of this, cucumbers are also cleansing and diuretic, which makes them perfect for eliminating toxins and decreasing water retention.

Cucumbers also reduce the level of bad cholesterol. The reason for this lies in the abundance of sterols, substances that are quite rare outside the plant world. Similar to what happens with courgettes and pumpkins, cucumbers regulate blood sugar levels, an important detail, especially for those suffering from diabetes. Finally, cucumbers contain silicon, a substance that generates a mild analgesic effect.

Are there any contraindications for cucumbers? In general, no, provided you don’t overindulge. Actually, if you overdo it, the high concentration of cucurbitacin (found mostly in pulp) may produce some meteorism or a slight laxative effect. It’s important to take notice of any rare allergies, such as cucumber allergies. This kind of allergy affects different cucurbits and causes symptoms that are both gastrointestinal and systemic, like breathing problems, itching, and mucous membrane swelling.

Why does cucumber make you lose weight?

I have already talked about the low caloric intake of cucumbers, which has few equals in the plant world. However, its “dietary” power extends beyond simple calories and involves chemical dynamics. The reference is to the presence of tartaric acid.

This kind of acid, which is found in a wide variety of plant species, stops carbs from turning into fats, which is a common process that leads to weight gain. Thus, a large number of carbohydrates are eliminated from the stool because of tartaric acid.

Lastly, there is a good satiating effect due to the abundance of water and fibre, which are useful for those who want to lose weight or are following low-calorie diets.

Some cucumber-based recipes

Cucumber is generally linked to two types of preparations: juices and summer side dishes. In the first case, it guarantees a drink with a strong flavour and important nutritional properties, especially for those who want to stay fit. In the second case, it is often associated with tomatoes and onions. However, the properties of cucumber allow it to be integrated even into more complex recipes. These are a few.

Gazpacho: It’s among the most well-known recipes in Spain. It’s a cold vegetable soup, with cucumber as the main ingredient. Certain types of gazpacho have a strong cucumber flavour that overpowers all other flavours.

Fattoush: It is a unique salad typically eaten in Lebanon. Fattoush is an aromatic side dish made with cucumber, tomato, purslane, sumac, and pomegranate.

Cucumbers with Skyr spread: Cucumbers can be used for many side dishes. For instance, they convey full-bodied, delicate, acidic, and bitter notes simultaneously when paired with the Skyr spread.

Sorbet: Cucumbers can be classified as fruits, much like oranges and lemons, which makes them suitable for use as a sorbet ingredient. Compared to traditional sorbets, the flavour here is stronger and less sweet.

Salmon fillets with cucumber sauce: In this case, the sorbet acts as a bed. In this recipe, the cucumber is used in preparing the sauce, and spices may be added if you so wish.

Cucumber millefeuille: It is a unique composition that can act as a full-bodied and colourful appetiser. Carousel-style layers of cucumber alternate with layers of tomato and peaches. It’s a unique recipe that will impress guests because it’s both sweet and acidic at the same time.