Cucumbers

 Cucumbers Key facts Cucumbers are a member of the squash family, which includes gourds; it is scientifically defined as a fruit, as it grows from a flower and has its seeds inside; cucumbers are often eaten as a diuretic.

A home-grown cucumber in the late English summer is a luxury for its fragrant, cool, pronounced cucumber flavour – if you can get hold of one. In any case, English home-grown cucumbers do have the best flavour and it’s difficult to find a well-flavoured imported cucumber in the winter. For the best results, and if you have time, salting, as you would an aubergine, does draw out some of the excess water content and helps concentrate the flavour.

What about the seeds? No problem. These are part and parcel of the cucumber, so I never bother to remove them. Then there’s the question of whether to peel or not to peel. I say not, because I like the colour, texture and flavour of the peel, but if the cucumber has a very tough skin, use a potato peeler, so only the outer skin is pared off. It’s also possible to just pare off strips of skin, a kind of halfway house. The exception is small, ridged cucumbers, which sometimes have quite knobbly skins and are usually best peeled.

 
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