Cucumber is an annual plant belonging to the pumpkin crop family. The bulk of the ingredient composition of the vegetable is water (95%). This is a low-calorie product in 100 g of which only 14 kcal is concentrated. In view of this, a lot of weight loss programs (strict and combined) have been developed on the basis of cucumber, designed both for emergency weight loss within 3 days and for systematic weight correction over 1 month. This is a source of hard-to-digest fiber, vitamins, minerals, proteins, organic acids, which helps to cope with constipation and removes cholesterol from the body.
Interestingly, cucumbers are ahead of beets in terms of thiamine content (0.03 mg versus 0.02 mg), riboflavin - radishes (0.04 mg versus 0.03 mg).
The vegetable satisfies the hunger, reduces the severity of edema, maintains normal thyroid function, raises vitality, improves the appearance of the skin, and increases the elasticity of blood vessels. In addition, polyphenolic structures were found in the pulp of cucumbers that minimize the likelihood of developing cancer of the uterus, prostate, breast and ovaries.
Cucumber is the oldest plant known to mankind since Antiquity. The birthplace of the vegetable is West India, from where it spread throughout the world. This is one of the few cultures used by humans in unripe form. In view of this feature, the plant was nicknamed "aguros", which in Greek means "unripe".
Cucumbers are characterized by a rod root with a large number of lateral processes. The stalk of young seedlings is smooth upright, and in flowering and fruiting ones, a rough creeping, ending with a branched mustache (for climbing vertical supports). Moreover, the central shoot of the plant forms a lot of side lashes, from which the vines of the second, third and fourth orders depart. Moreover, the number of minor offspring depends on the variety of cucumbers and the growing conditions of the culture. The length of the main stem varies from 1 to 3 m, and the lateral branches from 0.3 to 0.8 m. The leaves of the vegetable are petiolate heart-shaped, alternately located on creeping lashes. As the stem grows, yellow funnel-shaped flowers with jagged edges form in the sinuses of the rudimentary plates. The stamens of the cucumbers are fused in pairs, and the ovary, protruding, pubescent along the entire length. In the buds are special glands that release aromatic nectar into the air.
It is interesting that bee-pollinated cucumbers are monoecious dioecious plants that form both female and male flowers. Moreover, their stamen corollas contain sticky pollen, and pistillate ones are ovary with three- or four-lobed stigmas. Moreover, the number of male buds significantly exceeds the number of female buds. Cross-pollination is required for fruiting such plants.
Monoecious plants are suitable for cultivation only in open ground. This is due to the fact that in greenhouses it is impossible to ensure proper pollination. This problem was solved by breeders who developed parthenocarpic forms of cucumbers that form ovaries without the participation of insects.
The outer surface of the vegetable can be either smooth or spiky or coarse. Moreover, the size, shape, color of "pubescence" and the structure of the peel directly depend on the plant variety.
Cucumber is a valuable low-calorie product (14 kcal per 100 g). The vitamin component of the vegetable is not very expressive. Most of the ingredients are water (95%), which contains a natural adsorbent that absorbs and removes poisons from the body. This is a natural cleansing substance, reminiscent of activated carbon in its spectrum of action.
|Name||Concentration in 100 grams of raw materials, grams|
|Mono- and disaccharides||2,5|
|Organic acids (tartaric, lactic)||0,1|
|Name||Concentration in 100 grams of vegetable, milligrams|
|Ascorbic acid (C)||10|
|Pantothenic Acid (B5)||0,27|
|Alpha Tocopherol (E)||0,1|
|Beta Carotene (A)||0,005|
|Folic Acid (B9)||0,004|
|Name||Concentration in 100 grams of product, grams|
In addition to water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and fiber, the composition of cucumbers includes polyphenols (secoisolaricresinol, laricresinol, pinoresinol), which have an oncoprotective effect on the body.
Interestingly, on the island of Fiji, vegetables are considered the most valuable product, indicating a person’s well-being. For example, the bride’s parents do not consent to the daughter’s marriage until the bridegroom presents them with cucumber stocks.
Benefits and contraindications
For many people, the smell of cucumber is associated with freshness, lightness and energy. This is not surprising, since the vegetable is 95% water. Due to the high concentration of liquid in the pulp and low calorie content, the product is approved for use in almost all diets aimed at reducing body weight. This vegetable not only perfectly satisfies hunger, but also promotes the transformation of fat into energy. Along with this, cucumber is a natural sorbent that naturally cleanses the intestines.
Useful properties of fruits:
- Accelerates the removal of excess fluid from tissues, reduces the risk of lymphostasis, improves the urinary system.
- Stimulates the secretion of bile, prevents stone formation.
- Strengthens the heart muscle, increases the elasticity of the vascular wall, reduces the risk of thrombosis.
- Strengthens the immune system, protects cell membranes from damage (free radicals), increases the antitumor resistance of the body.
- Improves the condition of epithelial tissue, reduces the intensity of the formation of comedones and juvenile acne.
- Enhances intestinal motility, reduces the risk of diverticulum formation, and normalizes stool.
- Raises the energy potential of the body, improves the passage of a nerve impulse through neurons and mental performance.
- Reduces bleeding gums, neutralizes bad breath.
- Stimulates the natural synthesis of thyroid and sex hormones.
Remember, the curative and therapeutic effect is exerted only by fresh cucumbers that have not undergone heat treatment and preservation. However, for all its obvious benefits, the vegetable has a number of contraindications.
Fresh cucumbers should be excluded from the diet of people suffering from:
- ulcers, gastritis, enterocolitis (especially during exacerbation);
- increased acidity of gastric secretion;
- dysfunctions of water-salt metabolism;
- gallstone disease;
- allergies to the product.
Remember, before use, cucumbers are soaked in cold water for 30-40 minutes to remove nitrates. Intensively washed under running water.
To date, cucumbers are cultivated in 2 ways: seedlings and seeds. In the first case, the crop is harvested in early June, and in the second in the middle of July.
Growing cucumbers by seedling method:
- Seed preparation (warming and soaking). Pre-treatment of seeds is performed in order to accelerate the emergence of seedlings and increase the number of female buds.
The first stage of pre-sowing preparation begins with warming. To do this, full-weight bones are kept for 4 hours in an oven at a temperature of 45 degrees (with constant stirring). Cucumber seeds can also be warmed up by a simpler method by hanging in gauze bags near heating appliances (1.5 months before sowing). After this, the raw material is placed for an hour in a solution of potassium permanganate or garlic pulp (diluted 1: 3). Then, the disinfected seeds are placed in cotton bags and immersed in a nutrient mixture (from nitrophoska, wood ash and water). After 12 hours, the bones are washed with clean water and placed on a slightly damp tissue for swelling (for 1-2 days). At the same time, it is important to ensure that they do not sprout, but only slightly “hatch”. After that, planting material is placed in the refrigerator for a day.
Remember, hybrid varieties of cucumbers do not need presowing treatment.
- Preparation of the substrate. Soil for seedlings is composed of humus, turfy earth and mullein, observing a ratio of 7: 2: 1. After that, lime (30 g), ammonium nitrate (25 g), superphosphate (20 g) and potassium salt (6 g) are added to the finished mixture. The resulting soil is filled with individual peat containers in which drainage holes are made. The optimal height of the pots is 0.1 m, diameter - 0.07 m.
- Planting seeds in containers. To get an early harvest, hacked bones are buried in the ground in mid-April (piece by piece per pot). After this, the soil is abundantly moistened and covered with a plastic wrap. In order to avoid rotting the seeds, the greenhouse is aired twice a day. Watering is rare, but plentiful (preferably in the morning).
To moisten the soil, it is permissible to spray crops from the spray gun. If it is necessary to slow down the growth of a seedling, the intensity of irrigation is halved.
The germination period of planting material is 6 days. After the appearance of a pair of real leaves, the seedlings are tempered, fed with potash fertilizers and reduce the frequency of watering (to stimulate the development of the root system).
- Planting seedlings in the ground. Young plants are placed in small holes (0.05 m deep) in phase 4 of these leaves, that is, 25 days after sowing. The optimal distance between the landing pits is 0.5 m.
To prevent disease, seedlings are treated with epin or immunocytophyte.
To obtain a crop in mid-summer, cucumbers (seeds) are planted in the ground in early June. The depth of embedment of the seeds varies from 0.02 m to 0.04 m.
Cucumber care comes down to regular watering, top dressing and hilling of the root layer. To stimulate the formation of minor lashes, soil-type vegetables can be nipped over 5 leaves, and greenhouse ones over the first ovary. Given that the plant "loves" warm, warmed soil, the height of the vertical supports should not exceed 0.25 m.
How to pickle cucumbers
Currently, this method of processing vegetables is the most popular. There are many variations of pickling cucumbers, which differ in the quantitative composition of salt, herbs and spices. There are two ways to harvest vegetables for future use: “cold” (without sterilization) and hot.
Spices for cucumber salting (on a three-liter jar):
- black pepper - 10 pcs;
- garlic - 50 g;
- horseradish root - 6 cm;
- currant leaf - 3 pcs;
- a leaf of cherry (or oak) - 3 pcs;
- bay leaf (dry) - 2 pcs;
- dill inflorescence - 2 pcs;
- grape leaf - 1 pc.
If desired, add a sprig of tarragon, mint, basil or savory to the bottle.
Hot pickling method
- Place jars of spices (including fresh plant leaves) at the bottom.
- Lay cucumbers on top of spices (preferably vertically).
- Pour raw material with boiling water, cover with sterilized lids, stand for 3 minutes.
- Drain the prepared container. To facilitate the task, you can use the lid with holes or iron gauze cut.
- Pour boiling liquid over the cucumbers a second time, increase the infusion period to 5 minutes.
- Drain the hot water into the pan. Prepare the marinade (based on 35 g of salt per 1 liter of source liquid).
- Pour the pickle with boiling brine (without filling the neck), roll up the jars.
After preservation, the pickle is turned down with lids (until it cools completely), wrapped and after a day removed in a cool place.
Cold Pickled Cucumber Recipe
- Place cucumbers, spices and fresh leaves in a prepared container.
- Prepare the marinade. To do this, the salt is dissolved in 100 ml of hot water (based on 55 g of spice per 1 liter of liquid). The resulting mixture was adjusted to the required volume with ice water.
- Pour cucumbers with cold brine, keep warm for 1-2 days (to activate enzymatic processes). After fermentation is complete, add the brine to the top of the can and seal it tightly with a lid (without sterilization).
- Move the pickles to the refrigerator or cellar for 10-12 days.
The optimal storage temperature of the product is 0 degrees.
Secrets of proper salting
- To get crispy cucumbers, it is better to choose small fruits with black "pimples" and a thick peel.
- Before pickling vegetables should be soaked in water for 2.5 hours. Otherwise, they may be bitter or “explode”.
- The best time for the cucumber ambassador is the second half of July-August.
- To prepare the marinade, it is better to use filtered, well or spring water.
- Greens, to preserve the taste and aroma, should be torn from the bush an hour before salting.
- Cucumbers are stacked in a dense row in a vertical position.
Remember, the more vegetables fit in the jar, the longer the product will be stored (due to the increased concentration of lactic acid during fermentation).
- Vegetables that are at the stage of fermentation (when using the "cold" method) should never be clogged with a lid.
- To obtain crispy fruits, it is important to use coarse salt without additives.
- To avoid mold during the "cold" salting of cucumbers, it is necessary to sprinkle the surface of the marinade with dry mustard powder.
- To preserve the bright green color, the vegetable is poured with boiling water, and then immersed in cold water.
To obtain cucumbers with a crispy crust, it is important to lay them exclusively in a sterile container. Remember, in 80% of cases, pickles deteriorate due to careless preparation of the dishes.
Application in cosmetology
Cucumbers, due to the rich ingredient composition, have long been used for cosmetic purposes. Means based on them have powerful antioxidant, moisturizing, tonic, whitening and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cucumber compounds are used to eliminate oily sheen, lighten age spots (including freckles and dark circles under the eyes), reduce acne, even out skin tone (especially after tanning), narrow surface pores, smooth fine wrinkles, and moisturize the stratum corneum.
Homemade face formulations:
- Nourishing mask for dry dermis. Ingredients: 25 g of cucumber puree, 15 ml of natural honey, 10 g of oatmeal, 10 ml of sour cream. The mask is applied to clean skin at least once a week. After 20 minutes, the product is washed off with warm water. With regular use of the composition, the skin becomes velvety, smooth and well-groomed.
- Anti-inflammatory mask for problem skin. To create a composition you will need: cucumber pulp (30 g), lemon juice (15 ml), ground turmeric (3 g). The exposure time of the mask is 15 minutes, then rinse with water. This tool will help normalize the sebaceous glands, dry old abscesses and reduce the intensity of the formation of new blackheads.
- Tonic lotion for oily skin. Preparation: combine 400 g of fresh pulp of cucumbers with 100 ml of quality vodka (40%). The mixture is infused for 7 days in a dark place. Owners of oily dermis are recommended to wipe the skin with the resulting composition after each wash (to complete the process of cleansing and toning).
- A brightening, soothing facial mask. Active ingredients: 50 g of cucumber puree, 15 ml of chamomile infusion, 5 g of chopped parsley, 3 g of fresh mint, 2 ml of sour cream. The ingredients are thoroughly mixed, and then applied to the irritated dermis for 20 minutes, washed off. The mask perfectly eliminates redness, evens out skin tone, dries out small acne.
- A cleansing mask for any skin. The composition is prepared from grated cucumber (15 g), white cosmetic clay (10 g) and boiled water (10 ml). The product is applied to the skin after makeup remover. The exposure time of the mask is 15 minutes. After a quarter of an hour, it is washed off with water. To obtain the desired effect, do not allow drying of the composition on the face.
In addition, fresh cucumber is used as a monotherapy for oily, pigmented and aging skin. To do this, cut the vegetable lengthwise into 2 halves and wipe the dermis with it after make-up removal.
It is interesting that Queen Cleopatra used cucumber juice inside and used it externally as masks to maintain youthful skin.
In cooking, cucumbers are used in fresh, pickled and salted forms. Vegetables are used to prepare salads, cold soups, sauces and dressings.
Recipe number 1 "Pickle with pickles"
- beef fillet - 350 g;
- pickles - 300 g;
- potatoes - 200 g;
- pearl barley - 150 g;
- sour cream - 150 g;
- carrots - 80 g;
- onions (blue or white) - 50 g;
- tomato paste (ketchup) - 30 ml;
- dill (dry) - 20 g;
- vegetable oil - 20 ml;
- spices, fresh herbs - to taste.
- Cut the meat fillet into pieces, boil for 1.5 hours.
- Pour pearl barley with liquid, boil in a separate container for 25 minutes. After cooking, leave the porridge for 15 minutes for further swelling.
- Throw the prepared cereal onto a sieve, rinse under running water, combine with meat broth.
- Peel the cucumbers from peel and large seeds, and then cut them into strips.
- Grind vegetables: onions - in half rings, carrots - in slices, potatoes - in cubes.
- Heat the pan with vegetable oil. Passivate onions and carrots, and then combine with tomato paste, leek and 50 ml of boiling water. Fry the resulting mixture for 7 minutes.
- Strain the broth, combine the liquid with potatoes. After 15 minutes, add porridge and cucumber slices to the pickle. Boil the dish for another 5 minutes.
- Fry boiled beef until golden brown.
- Add vegetable frying, meat, spices, fresh herbs to the pickle, boil for another 3 minutes.
- Insist the first dish under a closed lid for 15 minutes.
Serve pickle with fresh sour cream and a sprig of greens.
Recipe number 2 "Korean cucumbers"
- cucumbers - 500 g;
- carrots - 150 g;
- onions (white) - 100 g;
- lean oil - 80 ml;
- garlic - 70 g;
- vinegar (preferably apple) - 50 ml;
- sesame seeds - 45 g;
- seasoning for Korean salads - 20 g;
- fresh herbs, salt - to taste.
- Grind vegetables: onions - in half rings, cucumbers - in strips, carrots - in bars. Mix the mixture thoroughly, and then in the center make a small depression (for garlic).
- Heat a frying pan with oil, until a light haze. Add sesame and spices to the preheated fat. Seasoning for Korean salads can be replaced with a mixture of equal parts of coriander, paprika, ginger, black and red peppers.
- Place chopped garlic in a recess made in a vegetable mixture, and pour hot spicy oil on top.
- Season the salad with salt, sugar, vinegar and herbs.
- Stir the side dish, carefully distributing the seasonings, garlic and sesame seeds over the vegetables.
- Mash cucumbers and carrots with your hands so that the juice stands out slightly.
- Place the salad for 6 hours in the refrigerator (for pickling).
Korean cucumbers can be used as a separate snack or as a side dish for main dishes.
How to choose a variety of cucumbers
Currently, there are parthenocarpic and bee pollinated varieties of cucumbers. Plants of the first type are excellent for cultivation in small-sized greenhouses, since the formation of ovaries occurs without the participation of insects. For the cultivation of vegetables in the open field, you can use both bee pollinated and parenocarpic varieties of cucumbers. In addition, when choosing seed, the intended purpose of the fruit should be taken into account: for preservation or fresh consumption.
Interestingly, to indicate the hybrid forms of the plant, the prefix "F1" is added to the name.
Cucumbers (varieties) for open ground:
- "Bouquet F1". Hybrid parthenocarpic early ripe with a large number of female flowers. The plant is medium-sized, weakly braided, capable of yielding crops throughout the summer (indeterminate). These vegetables are characterized by short tuberous fruits with white pubescence and light green stripes. The average weight of Zelentsy is 100 g.
- "Elegant". Early ripening bee pollinated variety, characterized by high productivity. Fruits are ellipsoid finely tuberous, covered with a dark green dense peel. The weight of Zelentsy varies from 100 to 140 g. A distinctive feature of the variety is its high cold and disease resistance.
- "Everyone envy F1." Beam self-pollinated hybrid of the gherkin type. The crop can bear fruit in open ground and in temporary greenhouses. The advantage of the variety is shade tolerance, which allows you to get high yields regardless of the growing conditions (especially during rainy summers). The fruits of the culture are painted in a bright green hue, the branching of the lashes is genetically self-regulating.
- "Little F1". An early bee pollinated variety with partial parthenocarpy. The hybrid is characterized by a mixed type of flowering and average branching of the stems. Fruits are very short, slightly ribbed, of regular cylindrical shape. The mass of one vegetable is 85 g.
Instead of bromine - a cucumber. Interestingly, in the old days, seeds and immature fruits of a vegetable were used to relieve sexual arousal. That is why cucumbers were grown in large numbers in the monastery courtyards.
The great commander Napoleon honored the green vegetable so much that he announced the award equivalent to 250 thousand dollars to someone who would come up with a way to increase the shelf life of the product during the campaigns. Unfortunately, the method of prolonging the freshness of the fetus was not obtained not in the XVIII century, not to this day.
F1 cucumbers for greenhouses:
- "Berendey F1". Parthenocarpic hybrid of medium early maturity. The culture is indeterminate, weakly branched, forming a large number of female flowers. The vegetable pulp is dense sweet without a taste of bitterness. The average yield of marketable cucumbers is 13 kg per 1 sq. Km. m
Grade advantages: shade tolerance, high productivity, resistance to diseases. The weight of one cucumber is 130 g.
- "Little finger F1". Ultra-early self-pollinated hybrid of high productivity. Zelentsy small-tuberous medium size (8-9 cm long). Cucumbers of this variety are intended for cultivation in spring unheated greenhouses. The variety is resistant to disease and drought.
- "Siberian garland F1". Early ripening hybrids with bundle laying of ovaries. Plants do not require cross-pollination, which allows them to be used in film greenhouses. Small white-thorny fruits are not prickly (5-7 cm long). The pulp is juicy crispy without voids and a taste of bitterness. Hybrids of this type are characterized by long fruiting and resistance to low temperatures.
- "Antoshka F1". Self-pollinating gherkin hybrid designed for protected ground. The plant is highly branched with a central stem of medium ripeness. The green mass varies between 80-85 cm, length - 10-13 cm. The fruits are small-tuberous with black "pimples". The flesh is crisp, juicy without bitterness.
Remember, when choosing a cucumber variety, you should consider the cultivation region, climatic conditions, as well as the intended purpose of the product.
Cucumber is an annual vegetable grown in almost all countries of the world. The culture is valued for the fragrant unripe fruits (Zelentsy) used in cooking, diet therapy, traditional medicine and cosmetology. In the food industry, cucumber is used as an independent snack, and as part of summer salads, cold soups, various pickles. Given that the flesh of the fetus is 95% water, cucumber is an integral component of cleansing and detoxification programs for weight loss. Along with liquid, it contains vitamins, minerals, organic acids, tannins, flavonoids, dietary fiber, and adsorbents. The fruits of this culture perfectly satisfy hunger, potentiate the synthesis of thyroid hormones, help reduce edema, stimulate contractile function of the intestine, increase vascular elasticity, and improve the appearance of the dermis.