This is part of our Eatable Alphabet™ blog series developed in partnership with ChopChop Family. ChopChop Family collaborated with the American Academy of Pediatrics to create these amazing activity cards which get kids to engage with whole foods, one of the easiest ways to encourage healthy eating. ChopChop makes it fun, fun, fun and we LOVE what they do and hope you do, too!
We’re crazy for cucumbers! They’re crunchy, fresh, and juicy—and it’s easy to turn them into nearly instant salads and snacks. Cucumbers are chock full of antioxidants, nutrients and fiber to help you stay happy and healthy. Most people think cucumbers are vegetables, but they’re actually a fruit (they’re in the same family as melons) because they contain tiny seeds in the middle and grow from the flowers of the plant.
Enjoy this post all about cucumbers and ways to get your kids excited about them! (And don’t miss the special offer at the bottom to get your very own Eatable Alphabet™ cards!)
3 Fast Facts About Cucumbers
- Cucumbers can grow up to 2 feet long! Use a tape measure or ruler to see just how big that is!
- According to Guinness World Records, the longest cucumber measured 42.1 inches and was grown in Wales in 2011. (That's huge compared to a 2-footer!)
- At 95% water, cucumbers are nature’s most hydrating vegetable.
Different Types of Cucumbers
Cucumbers come in lots of different shapes and sizes:
- A “regular” slicing cucumber is sausage-shaped with a thick, shiny green peel, which might be waxed (we like to peel this kind of cucumber before eating it). Inside it might have lots of large seeds, or it might have only a few. If you don’t want seeds in your recipe, you can cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop them out with a spoon.
- An English cucumber, also called a European or Hothouse cucumber, is a long, skinny cucumber that has fewer seeds and a thinner skin than a “regular” slicing cucumber. In the store, you’ll find them wrapped in plastic to protect their fragile skin.
- A Persian cucumber is like a miniature English cucumber. They’re usually packaged by the half-dozen and are perfect for snacking or salads.
- A pickling cucumber can be 1 to 6 inches long; choose the right size depending on whether you’re going to use them to make gherkins or cornichons (tiny pickles) or larger dill pickles. You can pickle any cucumber, but these are smaller and have thinner skins, which makes them easier to pickle.
How to Choose, Store, and Wash Cucumbers
- Choose cucumbers that are firm, without soft spots or blemishes
- Store whole cucumbers in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer for up to two weeks. Once cut, cucumbers will last about 3 days in the fridge.
- Wash your cucumber under cold running water, and scrub it –yep, even if you plan to peel it!
Oodles of Ideas For Eating Cucumbers
Cucumbers are cool and crunchy members of the gourd family (which includes squash, pumpkins, and even watermelon and cantaloupe). They have a shiny, dark green outside and a juicy, pale green inside, and their flavor is mild and a little bit melon-y. We love them pickled or plain, in sandwiches and salads, or as a crunchy snack. Here are 3 kid-approved ChopChop recipes:
- Smashed Cucumber Salad – This fresh and simple salad is also super fun to make!
- Easy Dill Pickles – Pickles are incredibly easy to make! The main ingredient, besides cucumbers, is patience. ;)
- Creamy Cucumber Salad – This salad goes well with lots of summer main dishes. It’s also a crowd-pleaser for picnics and potlucks!
Find more recipes on Chop Chop!
Tips for Having Fun (and Learning!) with Cucumbers
- Compare the taste of a cucumber and a pickle. How can the same food taste so differently? Study the process of fermentation or pickling by making pickles! (Here’s an easy dill pickle recipe.) Learn about those healthy, miniscule microbes that make up and heal our gut!
- Cucumbers are naturally cooling – and even more so if they’ve been in the refrigerator. Slice into rounds and put them on your eyelids and relax! Everyone (even little ones) can use a little self-care. It’s also great for itchy or puffy eyes from allergies or too much crying.
- Take your taste buds on a trip! Cucumber Agua Fresca is a popular Mexican drink, which means “fresh water” in Spanish. It’s almost like a crisp cucumber salad in liquid form.
- Want to be cool as a cucumber? Apply cucumber slices to soothe painful sunburns. Cucumbers contain vitamin C and caffeic acid, ingredients that can tame inflamed or irritated skin.
- Because they’re sweet and mild, lots of flavors go well with cucumbers. Cut one into rounds, then try it with chopped fresh dill, creamy plain yogurt, a sprinkle of tart vinegar, a crumble of salty feta cheese, or sharp minced garlic. Which combo is your favorite?
Do you have more ideas or recipes? Please share them in the comments below! And if you're interested in more Eatable Alphabet posts, click here.
About ChopChop Family
ChopChop Family, is the non-profit publisher of Eatable Alphabet Kitchen Activity Cards for Kids and the award-winning ChopChop: The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families. Their mission is to inspire and educate families to cook and eat real food together. ChopChop The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and winner of the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Publication of the Year. Visit their shop and use code HELLOBELLO15 for 15% off their Activity Cards, magazine subscription, and more!
About Eatable Alphabet
Developed in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics, and with funding from the CDC, Eatable Alphabet™ teaches toddlers that cooking real food is fun.
The cards offer a portable, accessible way to:
- Cultivate bonding between kids and caregivers
- Promote early nutrition awareness
- Experience the senses of sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste
- Introduce language, including some Spanish words, and food literacy
- Learn counting and early STEAM knowledge
- Teach valuable life skills