Cucumber History, Plant Information, Interesting facts, and Nutritional Value

History of Cucumber

The cucumber is one of the most ancient vegetables and has been cultivated for thousands of  years. It is native to India, and archaeologists estimate that its cultivation as food started 3,000 years ago. More specifically, ancient Egyptians made weak liquor from cucumbers, while it is said that Emperor Tiberius wanted cucumbers to be part of his daily meals. Later, between the 8th and 9th centuries, Charlemagne grew cucumbers in his garden in Italy, and then cucumbers were spread to Western Europe. Cucumbers and many other vegetables became known in the New World thanks to Columbus. Today the four largest producer countries of cucumber globally are China, India, Russia, and the USA.

Cucumber is used as:

  • Whole fresh
  • Sliced fresh and
  • Pickled

cucumber plamt

Cucumber Plant Information

The cucumber (Cucumis sativus) belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, also called cucurbits or the gourd family, together with squash, pumpkin, watermelon, and muskmelon. It is widely cultivated for its edible fruit. The American (field) type and the European (greenhouse) one are roughly cylindrical, elongated, with tapered ends, and may be as large as 60 cm (23.6 in) long and 10 cm (4 in) in diameter. Some cultivars have small, short fruits called gherkins or pickled baby cucumbers. The cucumber is a tender annual plant with a rough, succulent, trailing stem. It is considered a summer vine crop. Its leaves are hairy, and they have 3 to 5 pointed lobes. 

The plant has 5-petaled yellow flowers. Most varieties are monoecious, which means that they produce female (pistillate) and male (staminate) flowers and require pollinating insects to produce fruit. Pollination takes place with the help of insects like bees. Nowadays, most hybrids of cucumber that are used for commercial cultivation are gynoecious or else “all female flowers”. 

There are also some varieties that can produce seedless fruits (cucumbers) without pollinating the female flowers (parthenocarpic fruit). 

Cucumbers are divided into two main categories based on their use. More specifically: 

  1. Cucumis sativus is consumed fresh (slicing cucumber) in salads and several dishes. This type of cucumber has softer flesh, thicker skin, and is long and slender. 
  2. Cucumis anguria is a pickling cucumber, much smaller than the first one. 

Worldwide, there are nearly 100 cucumber varieties available, but the English cucumber is the most commercial type. It is large, with dark green and thin skin and few or no seeds. Other types of cucumber can be the Armenian, or snake, the Japanese cucumbers, the Persian, the lemon, and the Kirby cucumbers. 

Generally, the plants thrive in areas with warm weather, when temperatures range between 75 and 85 °F (24-30 °C). Even a light frost can damage cucumbers. They prefer full sun exposure and need loamy, well-drained soil.

Interesting facts about Cucumbers

  • The largest cucumber ever cultivated was 162 cm (67 inches) long and weighed 70 kg (154 pounds).
  • Cucumber contains mostly water (96%).
  • While consumers think cucumber is a vegetable, scientifically, is considered a fruit since it is produced from a fertilized flower and encloses seeds.
  • One-half cup of sliced cucumbers contains only eight calories.
  • Cucumber fresh extracts have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • A slice of cucumber on the eyelid can be used as a beauty tip to reduce puffiness. This is due to its cool temperature and not to any other property.

interesting facts about cucumber

Nutritional value of Cucumbers

Cucumber is considered to be a very nutritional vegetable, as not only it contains a lot of beneficial elements, but also it is characterized by its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For example, beta carotene (antioxidant) in cucumbers fights against free radicals in your body, unpaired electrons that damage your cells and may lead to disease. Some other substances, like lignans, help prevent other diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, and some cancers. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting, promotes bone health, and improves calcium absorption. Moreover, scientists believe that cucumbers, due to the substances they contain that may help lower blood sugar or stop blood glucose from rising too high, may play a vital role in controlling and preventing diabetes.

More specifically, 100 g fresh weight of cucumber contains:

  • Water: 95.23 g
  • Energy: 12–15 kcal
  • Protein: 0.65 g
  • Total lipids: 0.11 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.63 g
  • Calcium: 16 mg
  • Phosphorus: 24 mg
  • Potassium: 147 mg
  • Iron: 0.28 mg
  • Vitamin C: 2.8 mg
  • Vitamin A: 5 µg
  • Vitamin K: 16.4 μg
  • Folate: 7 μg

Despite its high nutritional value, cucumber consumption also hides some risks. The most important is probably the pesticide residues that remain on the cucumber after its harvesting. To avoid consuming these residues, it is recommended to peel the skin off or wash it in warm running water before you eat the cucumber. 



Further reading

Cucumber History, Plant Information, Interesting facts, and Nutritional Value

How to grow cucumber for profit – Commercial cucumber cultivation

Principles for selecting the best Cucumber Variety

Cucumber Soil preparation, Soil, and Climate requirements, and Seeding requirements

Cucumber Irrigation – Water Requirements and Methods

Cucumber Fertilization Requirements and Methods

Cucumber Pests and Diseases

Weed Management in Cucumber Farming

Cucumber Yield, Harvest, and Storage

Cucumber Wholesale Bulk Prices


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