Cucumber

Cucumbers grow on vines
Image via Wikipedia
:Cucumis sa

Botanical Name :Cucumis sativa
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus:     Cucumis
Species: C. sativus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Cucurbitales

Other Names:
Burmese: Thakhwa.
Danish: Agurk
Dutch: Komkommer
English: Cucumber, Cultivated cucumber
Finnish: Kurkku
French: Concombre
German: Gurke
Italian: Cetriolo
Hindi: Kheera (khira), Kakri, Kakdi, Tihu.

FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS .
The cucurbit family includes species such as the gourd, watermelons, cantaloupes, squash and pumpkins. Cucurbits are known as the vine crops due to their growth, habit, and culture. Most plants in this species have a spreading growth habit with tendrils at the leaf axils. These plants are warm season, tender annuals, that require hot weather to develop fruit.


Other family members include:

Benincasa hispida L.; Uax Gourd
Citrullus lunatus (Thung.) Mansf .; Watermelon
Citrullus lunatus var. citroides (Bailey) Mansf.; Citron, Preserving Melon
Cucumis anguria L.; West Indian Gherkin
Cucumis melo L. (Chito group); Mango Melon, Garden Lemon
Cucumis melo L. (Conomon group); Melon, Oriental Pickling Melon
Cucumis melo L. (Flexuosus group); Armonian Cucumber, Japanese Cucumber, Uri
Cucumis melo L. (Inodorus group); Melon, Muskmelon, Winter Melon
Cucumis melo L. (Reticulatus group); Melon, Muskmelon, Cantaloupe
Cucurbita maxima Dutch.; Winter Squash, Pumpkin
Cucurbita mixta Pang.; Pumpkin
Cucurbita moschata Poir.; Winter Squash, Pumpkin
Cucurbita pepo L.; Winter Squash, Marrow, Summer Squash, Pumpkin
Lagenaria siceraria (Mol.) Standl.; Bottle Gourd
Luffa acutangula Roxb.; Angled Loofah
Luffa cylindrica Roem.; Smooth Loofah
Momordica charantia L.; Bitter Gourd, Balsam Pear
Sechium edile S.W.; Chayote
Telfairia spp.; Oyster Nut
Trichosanthes anquina L.; Snake Gourd

.
History
The cucumber has been cultivated for at least 3,000 years in Western Asia, and was probably introduced to other parts of Europe by the Romans. Records of cucumber cultivation appear in France in the 9th Century, England in the 14th Century, and in North America by the mid-16th Century.

The cucumber was mentioned in the Bible, and was being grown in North Africa, Italy, Greece, Asia Minor, and other areas at the beginning of the Christian era. In England the crop was first introduced in the 1300s, but not cultivated until 250 years later. Columbus planted seeds in Haiti, and by 1539 cucumbers were grown in Florida by the natives, reaching Virginia by 1584. Today cucumbers are grown all over the world for pickling (picklers) and fresh markets (slicers). Cucumbers grown in greenhouses have traditionally been grown near cities, mostly in the northeastern U.S. The southwest has become an ideal place for greenhouse cucumber production because of high light intensities there.
Cucumis sativus Common slicing and pickling cucumber. They are the same species, used differently, yet the flavor and texture are very similar.
Cucumis anguria are the Gherkin type that originated from West India

Botany
The cucumber is a creeping vine that roots in the ground and grows up trellises or other supporting frames, wrapping around ribbing with thin, spiraling tendrils. The plant has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruit.

The fruit is roughly cylindrical, elongated, with tapered ends, and may be as large as 60 cm long and 10 cm in diameter. Cucumbers grown to be eaten fresh (called slicers) and those intended for pickling (called picklers) are similar.

Varieties
English cucumbers can grow as long as 2 feet. They are nearly seedless and are sometimes marketed as “Burpless,” as the seeds give some people gas.
.
Japanese cucumbers (kyūri) are mild, slender, deep green, and have a bumpy, ridged skin. They can be used for slicing, salads, pickling, etc., and are available year-round.
Mediterranean cucumbers are small, smooth-skinned and mild. Like the English cucumber, Mediterranean cucumbers are nearly seedless.
.
Slicers grown commercially for the North American market are generally longer, smoother, more uniform in color, and have a tougher skin. Slicers in other countries are smaller and have a thinner, more delicate skin.In North America the term “wild cucumber” refers to manroot.

Click to see the picture

Cucumbers are fruit
Having an enclosed seed and developing from a flower, cucumbers are scientifically classified as a fruit. Much like tomatoes and squash, however, their sour-bitter flavor contributes to cucumbers being perceived, prepared and eaten as vegetables, despite the scientific classification.

As a food
The fruit is commonly harvested while still green, though generally after the fruits outgrow their spines. They are eaten as a vegetable, either raw, cooked, or made into pickled cucumbers. Although less nutritious than most fruit, the fresh cucumber is still a source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium, also providing dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, thiamin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. Cucumbers are used in the decorative food art, garde manger.

Pickling
Main article: Pickled cucumber
Some people think cucumbers taste better pickled. Cucumbers can be pickled for flavour and longer shelf life. As compared to eating cucumbers, pickling cucumbers tend to be shorter, thicker, less regularly-shaped, and have bumpy skin with tiny white- or black-dotted spines. They are never waxed. Color can vary from creamy yellow to pale or dark green. Pickling cucumbers are sometimes sold fresh as “Kirby” or “Liberty” cucumbers. The pickling process removes or degrades much of the nutrient content, especially that of vitamin C. Pickled cucumbers are soaked in vinegar or brine or a combination, often along with various spices.

Parts Used
The edible parts are fruits, seeds and leaves.

Cucumbers grown for pickling (picklers) and those grown for fresh market (slicers) are the same species. Fruit of fresh market cucumbers are longer, smooth rather than bumpy, have a more uniform green skin color and a tougher, glossier skin than fruit of picklers.

Chemical constituents
The dietary value of Cucumber is negligible, there being upwards of 96 per cent water in its composition. The oil in the cucumber contains 22.3% linoleic acid, 58.5% oleic acid, 6.8% palmitic acid and 3.7% stearic acid.

The fresh cucumber is a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. It also contains vitamin A, vitamin B6, thiamin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese.

Nutritional Value of cucumber:

Calories……………….39……….% Calories from Fat……………7.8
Total Fat (g)…………0.4………..% Calories from Carbohydrates….73.8
Saturated Fat (g)……..0.1………..% Calories from Protein……….18.5
Monounsaturated Fat (g)..0.0………..% Refuse……………………..3.0
Polyunsaturated Fat (g)..0.2………….Vitamin C (mg)……………..16
Cholesterol (mg)………0……………Vitamin A (i.u.)…………..647
Carbohydrate (g)………8.3………….Vitamin B6 (mg)……………..0.13
Dietary Fiber (g)……..2.4………….Vitamin B12 (mcg)……………0
Protein (g)…………..2.1………….Thiamin B1 (mg)……………..0.07
Sodium (mg)…………..6……………Riboflavin B2 (mg)…………..0.07
Potassium (mg)………433……………Folacin (mcg)………………39.1
Calcium (mg)…………42……………Niacin (mg)…………………0.7
Iron (mg)…………….0.8………….Caffeine (mg)……………….0.0
Zinc (mg)…………….0.6………….Alcohol (g)…………………0.0
.

Daily Values:

………………………..% Daily Value (2000 Cal diet)……… % Daily Value (2500 Cal diet)
Total Fat (g): 0.4………………1%…………………………………0%
Saturated Fat (g): 0.1…………..0%…………………………………0%
Cholesterol (mg): 0……………..0%…………………………………0%
Sodium (mg): 6………………….0%…………………………………0%
Carbohydrate (g): 8.3……………3%…………………………………2%
Dietary Fiber (g): 2.4…………..10%………………………………..8%
Protein (g): 2.1………………..4%…………………………………3%

Culinary Uses
They are eaten as a vegetable, raw or cooked, or made into pickled cucumbers.
The cucumber is a common ingredient of salads, being valued mainly for its crisp texture and juiciness.
The fruit is said to be indigestible due to the high cellulose content.

Medicinal Uses
The leaf juice is emetic; it is used to treat dyspepsia in children.
The seed is cooling, diuretic, tonic and vermifuge. The emulsion made by bruising Cucumber seeds and rubbing them up with water is much used in catarrhal infections and diseases of the bowels and urinary passages.
The fruit is depurative, diuretic, emollient, purgative and resolvent. The fresh fruit is used internally in the treatment of blemished skin, heat rash etc, and also used externally as a medicine for burns, sores.
A decoction of the root is diuretic.

Other Uses
The cucumber juice is the base of many beauty products.
The peculiarly refreshing odour of Cucumber has found application in perfumery.
Cucumber skins have been shown to repel cockroaches in laboratory experiments.
The fruit is applied to the skin as a cleansing cosmetic to soften and whiten it.

Plant profile at the Plants Database (http://plants.usda.gov/) – shows classification and distribution by US state.
A very brief history of the cucumber in America
Cucumber as health food
Ancient history of the cucumber
A brief article on cucumbers in Palestine
A brief article on cucumber history
Specifics, including history, on cucumbers and their varieties
Several plants listed from a work by Pliny the Elder
Source noting cucumbers in Ur in 3000 BC

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Help taken from:en.wikipedia.org and spicesmedicinalherbs.com

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