Valley Bounty: Cucumbers

In his travel journal of the Scottish highlands, 18th century English writer Samuel Johnson declared that, “[i]t has been a common saying of physicians in England, that a cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.” This distaste for the humble Cucumis sativus, which seems to have been common in England at the time, was evidently not shared by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, who loved cucumbers so much that his gardeners supposedly built the world’s first proto-greenhouses so they could grow cucumbers for him all year round. Locally, we seem to fall closer to Tiberius’s end of the spectrum, as fresh local cucumbers are widely available at farm stands and farmers’ markets throughout the growing season.

When the weather is warm, a fresh cucumber’s mild taste and high water content can add some welcome refreshment to any dish they appear in. Chopped cucumbers and tomatoes with some crumbled feta, salt, pepper, and a splash of olive oil, served chilled, is a favorite of mine for summertime potlucks or to bring with lunch. I’ve also noticed a number of bars and restaurants around me serving cucumber flavored or garnished cocktails recently.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)