The Foodie

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What’s Fresh in Early September: Cucumbers

September 04, 2009
by Erin Harris
The refreshing flavor and texture of cucumbers will remind you of summer as you transition into fall. Adding the vegetable to your diet can also help rid your body of common toxins. Cucumbers are coming into season in early September, so take advantage and stock up.

Cucumber

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Markets overflow with piles of cucumbers this time of year and you may want some help determining the uses of tiny gherkins or long Japanese cucumbers. Cook’s Thesaurus provides images and information about each variety, from mild English cucumbers to bumpy, suitable-for-pickling Kirby cucumbers.

Although they have a reputation for being low in nutrients, cucumbers contain almost as much potassium per serving as watermelon or green apples. They help to rid the body of sulfite, a toxin found in preservatives that is “commonly added to dried foods, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, pickles and wine.” Food chemist Chia Joo Suan, writing for Malaysia’s The Star newspaper, recommends that people who eat sausages or burgers add cucumbers to their diet, as those meats can be high in preservatives. Manganese aids the absorption of other nutrients and is concentrated in cucumber skin. Cucumbers are also known to “prevent water retention, reduce swelling and help soothe skin irritations”—which explains why so many women rest slices of the vegetable on puffy eyelids.

When cucumbers are in season, there’s no need to dress them up with fancy sauces or dressings. Sprig, a guide to organic living, suggests tossing diced cucumber with coarse chunks of heirloom tomatoes and sweet onion. This recipe for Tomato Cucumber Salad is a fresh, colorful way to embrace the last flavors of summer as the season winds down. Cucumber is also a key ingredient in many cold soups, and our feature on cold soups features an entire section about cucumber soup.
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