Actually fruits from the gourd family, cucumbers offer much more than a supporting role in the garden salad.

Actually fruits from the gourd family, cucumbers offer much more than a supporting role in the garden salad.

By Kate V. Comfort, Stefanie Gans & Lindsey Jenkins



short stuff
“The smaller, the crunchier the cucumber,” says Christopher Dalton, the farmer and owner of Chilly Hollow Farm in Berryville. Another reason for buying the little guys, says Dalton, is because the larger the cucumber, the bigger and tougher the seeds become. “And then you have to spit them out.”


cool as a
While taking in the arts and culture, reading in the lounge, or being otherwise sophisticated at Busboys and Poets enjoy a cucumber martini: Square One Cucumber, an organic rye vodka, with house-made cucumber simple syrup and lemonade. “It’s a very light,” says bar manager Jason Foskey. “You got that crisp flavor.”




Found only in salty waters, sea cucumbers are oblong animals with thick leathery skin and a soft cucumber feel. There are over 1,200 known species with different colors, shapes and sizes, ranging from four inches to three feet, and uses include medicinal and culinary in the Middle East and Asia.

“They don’t really have their own flavor,” says Michele Hal of Miu Kee Cantonese Cuisine in Falls Church, but when stir fried, turns “crispy, like pig skin.”


mother nature’s maid
It’s not often that rubbing food against items in our house might be a good thing. But cucumbers—with tartrate acid, a gentler version akin to the cleansing properties of lemon—can help tidy around the home. Does your morning shower routine often leave your bathroom mirror too fogged up to be usable? Try wiping a freshly sliced piece of cucumber over the mirror to keep the streaky fog at bay. Have lovable little artists in-residence and the resulting inevitable stray pencil mark on the wall?  Rub a cucumber slice on the streak then wipe pulp and pencil clean with a damp paper towel.


a world tour
The well-growing cucumber pops up on tables all over the globe: Cucumber subs in for cabbage in a refreshing version of kimchi in Korea (Lotte Plaza).The Greeks mix cucumber into yogurt for tzatziki (Taverna Cretekou). To help quell spicy Indian food, the garam masala-spiced yogurt and cucumber condiment raita is often found as a side (Ammas Vegetarian Kitchen). And the Iranian mast-o-khiar combines cucumber with dried mint for a cooling dip (Shamshiry).


(July 2013)