In Praise of the Humble Cucumber

Cucumbers are everywhere this time of year; rich in B vitamins, cucumbers also contain folic acid, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc, not to mention carbohydrates and fiber.

The more ambitious amongst us may choose to make pickles, and libraries of books exist overflowing with pickle possibilities. History is full of luminaries who espoused the health benefits of cucumber pickles, from Hippocrates-he of the eponymic oath- to femmes fatales running the gamut from Cleopatra to Snooki.

But the cucumber is more than just a workhorse for the mason jar. No self-respecting tea party- Sarah Palin et al not withstanding -would be complete without the classic cucumber sandwich. Buttered crustless white bread, spread with sweet butter and topped with thin rounds of cucumber sprinkled with salt and pepper. Simple, classic and refined. A Pimm’s cup would not be a Pimm’s cup without a few slices of a freshly harvested cuke, and who hasn’t applied a slice of cucumber over each eye to reduce the puffiness brought on by a night of over indulgence?

Thinly slice and doused with white wine vinegar and seasoned with salt and pepper, a side of instant cucumber pickles adds a touch of freshness and livens up any mediocre plate.

Interestingly, this versatile wonder also can be put to work around the house in ways you probably haven’t considered. Here is a short list of ways to have your cuke and eat it too:

  1. Put the cuke to work in your garden: a few slices in an aluminum pie plate react with the aluminum to produce a scent –undetectable to us-that grubs and slugs hate.
  2. Rubbing a cucumber slice over your foggy bathroom mirror will keep it fog free and produce a pleasant, spa like fragrance.
  3. A tip from the swankiest spas also recommends rubbing a slice or two over “problem” cellulite, as the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, enabling you to scamper from the sauna to the pool worry free. A quick fix only…but eating a cucumber sandwich instead of a Big Mac would go along way to providing you with a more permanent solution.
  4. Eat a cucumber before you go to bed and help to eliminate hangovers and headaches, as the sugars, electrolytes and B vitamins will help to maintain equilibrium. (and if you forget to eat one that night, you can always hide behind cucumber spectacles the next day).
  5. As the greenest of green helpers around the house, a cucumber rubbed on a squeaky hinge will eliminate the complaint.  Faucets, sinks and stainless can be cleaned and polished in a similar manner, leaving a streak free shine.
  6. Got an important meeting? Take a few bites of your handy cuke and press it into the roof of your mouth, the phytochemicals will kill the bacteria in your mouth and freshen your breath.
  7. Rub a fresh cut cuke on your shoes will provide a quick polish and repel water too!

After all this excitement, you owe it to yourself to have a snack and a drink, and an autumnal Pimm’s cup is just the ticket. With all that mint flopping around in your garden, and apples falling off the trees you can’t go wrong. Now take a jug or glass and fill it with ice, mix one part Piimm’s No, 1 with three parts cold lemonade. Add some mint, sliced cucumber and apple slices and sit in the sun on a warm, Indian Summer’s day.


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