Cool as a Cucumber!
Cucumbers are more than 90% water with the inside temperature capable of being up to 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. They are extremely hydrating! No surprise, this succulent fruit is associated with adding a cool crispness to summer salads, salsas and sandwiches.
Finding piles of sliced (field or garden) cucumbers at the market is the first taste of what is to arrive this month. These are generally 5 to 8 inches long with small white spines on a fairly tough, smooth, green skin. Many people are unsure about eating the skin of a cucumber. It actually is one of the healthiest parts of this vegetable. Most of its vitamins and minerals are stored in the skin. If the skin of the sliced cucumber seems too tough, just cut off some of it in long lengthwise strips to compensate.
Pickling cucumbers, like gherkins and dill, are field grown, but their small size and thin skin make them ideal for pickling. To eat fresh, just slice and enjoy their mild flavor highlighted by very soft seeds and thin skin. A quick pickle is made by adding several splashes of white vinegar over sliced cucumber and seasoning with salt and pepper.
Novelty cucumbers offer diversity in color, shape and flavor. The slender, mild and virtually seedless English cucumbers are grown in green houses to avoid pollen from other types of cucumbers. Round shaped lemon cucumbers, named for their color and not their flavor, are mild and turn pale yellow when ripe. Armenian cucumbers, slender like the English variety, are much paler in color and, are actually a ribbed melon with a mild cucumber flavor. Other unique varieties include the slim Japanese cucumbers and bush varieties that grow on short plants.
Cool Cucumber Tomato Salsa
1 or 2 cucumbers diced (small, less seedy varieties are best, or peel and scoop out the seeds of larger cucs)
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced (or choose your favorite variety)
¼ cup minced red onion
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (or lemon juice)
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
Mix all ingredients gently in a medium size bowl. Serve with tortilla chips or grilled fish.
The Orinda market is open on Orinda Way in Orinda Village every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. More information is available at www.cccfm.org, facebook.com/OrindaFarmersMarket and Instagrm at OrindaFarmersMarket or call the market hotline 925.431.8361.