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The cucumber: vegetables of 2019 and 2020
The Germans love cucumbers. After tomatoes, carrots and onions, cucumber is the most bought vegetable. Pickled cucumbers are also eaten. With a water content of 97 percent, the cucumber is one of the most water-rich and low-calorie vegetable crops. The valuable ingredients are mostly in the shell, so the vegetables are best eaten unpeeled. The Association for the Conservation of Crop Diversity has chosen the cucumber as the vegetable of 2019 and 2020. The choice is to encourage the preservation and distribution of seed-resistant varieties that can be replicated.
The cucumber (Cucumis sativus) belongs to the pumpkin family and is closely related to pumpkins and zucchini. The vegetables originally come from northern India. There it developed about 3,500 years ago from an extremely bitter and small-fruited wild form. The cucumber only found its way to Western Europe in the 16th century. Modern snake cucumbers have only been grown since the late 19th century. In addition to the elongated, green cucumbers, there is a wide variety of shapes and colors. The spectrum ranges from white to yellow to striped, from spherical to cylindrical. In the field, the cucumber can creep on the ground or grow on tendrils, while in the greenhouse it is usually carried up by strings.
Today's cucumber varieties are usually almost free of bitter substances. If there is insufficient water supply, the cucumber may form bitter substances. It is therefore advisable to take a sample before preparation. According to an old kitchen rule, the cucumber should be peeled from the flower to the stem, since the bitter substances accumulate from the base of the stem. Often only the first few centimeters are bitter. With increasing ripeness, the bitter substances are broken down, so there are hardly any problems with late-harvested cucumbers. Immersion in water also reduces the bitter content. Heike Kreutz, respectively