What’s fresh in June? Cool and crunchy cucumbers

This in-season crop hits the spot as temperatures heat up.

Story By Bailey Gilliam

Cucumbers are perhaps the most underestimated vegetable (or fruit?) out there. Many dismiss them as only good for covering your eyes in a spa, but they can be used for many things. They flavor beverages, serve as decorative food vessels, provide soothing skincare and delight tastebuds in various dishes. World Cucumber Day is June 14, so it’s only fair that we feature cucumbers this month. Keep reading to learn about the versatility of this underrated vegetable.  

What’s a spa day without cucumber? 

Originating in Egypt and India, this cool, watery member of the Cucurbitaceae family is now one of the most cultivated plants in the world, grown commercially and in backyard gardens everywhere. Cucumbers have been cultivated in Egypt and India for over 3,000 years and have developed a rich international history. They were believed to be eaten by the people of Ur, an ancient Mesopotamian city, and were mentioned in the Bible as a food eaten by the Israelites in Egypt. Even Cleopatra was known to eat them to maintain her beauty. Cucumbers quickly spread across Europe and were grown by the ancient Greeks, then the Romans, who believed cucumbers were a source of physical and spiritual strength, and therefore given to soldiers. Cucumbers made it to England in the 14th century, were forgotten about during the War of the Roses in the 15th century and were reintroduced again when Henry VII came into power in the 16th century. Henry VII even owned the first gardening manual, which said that cucumbers shook with fear at the sound of thunder. Today cucumbers are consumed internationally, with China producing the majority. 

Eat your greens

Cucumbers may be 95 percent water, but they have a myriad of health benefits. Water is clearly important for your health, and cucumbers can increase hydration and help meet fluid intake needs. They are low in calories but high in many important vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C and K, magnesium, potassium and manganese, making them great for weight loss. They also have some protein and fiber. This combination of fiber and water can help in digestive health by preventing constipation and promoting regularity. Cucumbers contain antioxidants, including flavonoids and tannins, which prevent the accumulation of harmful free radicals and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Some studies show that cucumbers may help lower blood sugar and prevent diabetes-related complications, although additional research is needed.

Down the vine

Everyone has grown cucumbers in their garden at some point. They are a Southern staple, after all. But there are some tricks of the trade to ensure you have cucumbers all season long. Plant your cucumbers when the average daily temperature is in the mid-70s (no problem here), space them 36-60 inches apart in an area with abundant sun and fertile, well-drained soil, and give them an inch of water each week. The key is to water them frequently in small amounts. Make the most of your efforts by regularly feeding them water-soluble plant food. And when the soil is warm, add a layer of straw mulch to keep your cucumbers clean and help keep slugs and beetles away.

Where to get them 

  • Farmers Market of Bluffton: Purchase locally grown cucumbers from noon to 5 p.m., Thursdays in Old Town Bluffton. 
  • Roadside markets: Certified roadside markets such as Barefoot Farms, Dempsey Farms, Lowcountry Produce Inc. and Pasture Shed Farm are the freshest sources available for fresh produce.
  • Supermarkets: Our favorite spots for cucumbers are Publix, Whole Foods, Kroger and Fresh Market. 

Cucumber gazpacho

Grapes and cucumbers form a delicately sweet and refreshing soup; adding shrimp makes this into a lovely, light meal. Even better, it can be prepared ahead and refrigerated overnight.


4 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 1/2 cups seedless green grapes 

1 small garlic clove

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

1 cup water


Cooked shrimp and cilantro, for garnish


[1] In a blender, combine the cucumbers, grapes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and 1 cup of water; puree until smooth. [2] Season with salt. Serve chilled, garnished with shrimp and cilantro.

Dill pickles

Learn how to make pickles at home. This easy recipe yields crisp, tangy dill pickles that can be a delicious snack or sandwich topping.


8 to 10 pickling cucumbers

4 garlic cloves, halved

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 teaspoons peppercorns

a few good-sized dill sprigs, per jar

2 cups water

2 cups distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup cane sugar

2 tablespoons sea salt


[1] To make dill pickle spears, slice the cucumbers lengthwise into quarters. To make dill pickle chips, thinly slice them horizontally. [2] Divide the cucumbers among 4 (8-ounce) or 2 (16-ounce) jars. Divide the garlic, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and dill sprigs among each jar. [3] Heat the water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve, about 1 minute. Let cool slightly and pour over the cucumbers. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then store the pickles in the fridge. [4] Pickle spears will be lightly pickled in two days, but their best flavor will start to develop around day five or six. Pickle chips will be lightly pickled in a day, and will become more flavorful every day after that. Store in the fridge for several weeks.

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