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Extension > Food > Farm to School > Minnesota Toolkit for School Foodservice > Promoting Food > Promoting Cucumbers

Promoting Cucumbers

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Cool Stuff About Cucumbers!

Did you know the saying, "Cool as a cucumber" isn't just a popular phrase? The inner temperature of a cucumber can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the outside air! Cucumbers are 96% water and are a great food for traveling in hot weather because the smooth, green skin keeps the water in like a jug. How refreshing! You will find the flavor of a cucumber in the seeds. One cup of sliced cucumbers has just 16 calories and is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium.

Cucumbers originated over 3,000 years ago in India. There are two main types of cucumbers, slicers and picklers. Slicers are the cucumbers that you have on veggie trays or in salads. Picklers are used to make pickles. The first Gedney pickle plant opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1881 and over 100 years later Gedney became the official source of “The Minnesota Pickle.” You can pick up some cucumbers with your family at the local farmer’s market or FARM NAME. Try using the recipe in this month’s newsletter. Today at lunch, you will have the opportunity to sample cucumbers in FOOD ITEM from FARM NAME/CITY.

In [MONTH] your child tried [FOOD ITEM] with locally grown cucumbers from [FARM NAME] in [CITY]. Prepare this delicious recipe with your family and ask your child(ren) if they can answer the following trivia questions.

  1. Where did the phrase “cool as a cucumber” come from?
  2. There are two main types of cucumbers, slicers and picklers. Name one way you could eat slicers at home. Name another way you could eat picklers at home. Bonus: Gedney opened its first pickle plant in Minneapolis in 1881 and became the official source of “The Minnesota Pickle” in 1988. Can you sing the lyrics of the famous Gedney jingle?
  3. One cup of sliced cucumbers has just 16 calories and is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium. Cucumbers are a refreshing summer treat, but where does the flavor come from — the skin, flesh or seeds?

Trivia Answers

  1. The saying, “cool as a cucumber” began because the inner temperature of a cucumber can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the outside air! Cucumbers are 96% water and are a great food for traveling in the hot weather because the smooth skin keeps that water in like a jug.
  2. You can enjoy slicers in salads, with dip, or on sandwiches. Enjoy pickler’s on hamburgers or just straight out of the jar. Bonus: Gedney, it’s a Minnesota Pickle Get me a Gedney, it’s a Minnesota Pickle Bring on more Gedney, it’s no ordinary pickle. You betcha Gedney, it’s a Minnesota Pickle…
  3. The flavor of cucumbers comes from the seeds.

MS Word version of Newsletter

History and Origin

  • Cucumbers originated in India 3,000 years ago.
  • From India, cucumbers spread to Greece and Italy, where the Romans were especially fond of the crop, and later into China.
  • In the 9th century, cucumber cultivation appeared in France.
  • Cucumbers were introduced to North America in the mid-16th century.
  • Cucumbers are a member of the gourd family (along with melons, squash and pumpkins).

Nutrition

  • Cucumbers are 96% water, which means they do not contain many nutrients, but cucumbers are low in fat, sodium, and calories.
  • One-half cup of sliced cucumbers has just 8 calories.
  • Cucumbers are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium.
  • Cucumbers also contain Vitamin A, fiber, pantothenic Acid, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese, to name a few.
  • The green color of cucumber skin indicates it is a great source of chlorophyll, which is a valuable phytonutrient.

Did you know…?

  • The flavor in a cucumber is in the seeds.
  • There are two main types of cucumbers, slicers and picklers.
  • Slicers are the cucumbers that you find on veggie trays or in salads. Picklers are used to make pickles.
  • According to the pickle industry over 5 million pounds of pickles are consumed daily.
  • Cucumbers are among the most popular vine crops in the garden!
  • Vine crops “run” on the ground and take up a lot of space. In small gardens they may be grown on a trellis.
  • Cucumbers prefer sandy soil because it warms up faster in the spring!
  • Many of the vine crops are eaten as vegetables, but they are botanically speaking, they are fruits.
  • Florida produces the most cucumbers in the United States.
  • The largest cucumber on record weighed a whopping 59 pounds!
  • Persian cucumbers are also known as regular cucumbers with soft, edible seeds. The skin is often waxed to seal in moisture.
  • English cucumbers are sometimes known as gourmet cucumbers, "burpless", or seedless cucumbers. This variety has seeds that are very small but do not need to be removed. Longer and thinner than regular cucumbers this variety is usually shrink-wrapped to seal in moisture because they are not waxed.

How to Eat Cucumbers

  • Eat them raw, with the skin on unless it’s very tough.
  • Cut into sticks as a snack or add to dips and salads.
  • Add sliced cucumbers to tossed salads or sandwiches.
  • Shred cucumbers and mix with dill and low fat or fat free sour cream for a tasty dip.
  • Use cucumbers as an edible garnish to your main dishes.
  • Serve cucumbers on your veggie platters at your next gathering.

The above information was compiled from:

http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/cucumbers
snap.nal.usda.gov/foodstamp/nutrition_seasons.php
www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/vegetables/growing-cucumbers-in-minnesota-home-gardens/
www.extension.umn.edu/garden/fruit-vegetable/growing-vine-crops-in-mn/
www.bellybytes.com/food/cucumbers.html
www.foodreference.com/html/artcucumbers.html
www.thefresh1.com/cucumbers.asp
www.marylandpublicschools.org
www.gedneypickle.com/index.cfm/go/company.history/

Tasting Poster (300 K PDF)

3-Column Poster (207 K PDF)

Index Card (221 K PDF)

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bushel of cukes

Bushel of Cucumbers

photo by Kent Lorentzen
Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
pile of cukes

Pile of Cucumbers

photo by Kent Lorentzen
Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
cucumbers

Cucumbers

photo by Kent Lorentzen
Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
cucumbers

Basket of Cucumbers

photo by Kent Lorentzen
Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
  • Cucumber in a Bottle - The objective is to amaze your friends. They will be left wondering how you managed to squeeze that great big vegetable through a skinny little bottleneck.
  • Greenhouse Cucumber Project - Description of a Colorado State University student project that could be repeated at the high school, junior high, or elementary level.
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