As members of the Curcubitaceae family, cucumbers are relatives of melons and squashes, and actually come in an array of colours, sizes, shapes, and textures. They are also technically a fruit, not a vegetable!

Cucumbers can thrive is temperatures ranging from 15 to 33°C, and therefore are suited to both temperate and tropical climates.

Originally from Western Asia or the Middle East, cucumbers were actually mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a story about a Mesopotamian King of Uruk, ca. 2500 BC.

Eventually, cucumbers began to be cultivated throughout Europe, until they were brought to North America by colonists in the 1500s. Now, cucumbers are cultivated worldwide. China is the world’s largest producer, providing about two-thirds of the world’s supply. Annually, cucumber production is about 84 billion pounds.

Cucumbers are grown as either slicing cucumbers or pickling cucumbers. Slicing cucumbers are larger, with thicker skins, while pickling cucumbers are smaller, with thinner skins, and are used to make pickles.

Two major types of slicing cucumbers are grown in Ontario: English and Field Cucumbers.

English Cucumbers are the ones which are wrapped in the grocery store, with no wax coating. They tend to be longer than their field counterparts, and are usually grown in hothouses. They tend to be seedless.

Field Cucumbers are the regular, unwrapped, waxed cucumbers. They have thicker skin, and some seeds, and are shorter and rounder. They are slightly more bitter than English cucumbers.

Cucumbers are low in calories, while being high in vitamin K, and a good source of potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, biotin, and vitamin B1.

Cucumber seeds and skin contain a lot of these nutrients, and are actually more beneficial than the flesh.

As they are sensitive to heat, when purchasing cucumbers, select those stored in the display refrigerators. Look for firm cucumbers, which are rounded at the edges. The colour should be bright medium green to dark green.

Yellow, puffy, sunken water-soaked, or wrinkled cucumbers should be avoided.

If you are worried about seeds, thinner-skilled cucumbers tend to have less.

Always store cucumbers in the refrigerator, where they will keep for several days. For best results, keep in a high humidity drawer.

If the whole cucumber was not used, store it in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator to prevent drying out.

Do not keep cucumber at room temperature, as they will wilt.

If possible, leave the skin and seeds alone, as they are rich in nutrients themselves!

To easily seed a cucumber, however, simple cut it lengthwise, and gently scoop out the seeds using the tip of a spoon.

Seasonal Availability
June to October

Nutrition per 4 slices of cucumber (82 g), peeled:

Nutrient Value
Calories 28
Carbohydrates 1 g
Total Dietary Fibre 0.2 g
Calcium 4 mg
Iron 0.1 mg
Sodium 1 mg
Potassium 38 mg
Magnesium 3 mg
Vitamin C 1 mg

Provided by Health Canada