Cucumber Facts for Kids

By Lisa Walker
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Have you ever heard the phrase “as cool as a cucumber”? This comes from the fact that cucumbers are made almost entirely from water, making them feel cool inside. This is just one of many interesting bites of information children can learn about this seemingly straightforward part of their salad.

General Facts

Cucumbers, which are technically a fruit, are in the same family as melons, squash and pumpkins – known as the gourd family. Cucumbers are made up of 96 percent water, so they are low in calories. They also contain silica and vitamin C, which are both important for healthy skin. The skin of a cucumber provides fiber. All the flavor from a cucumber comes from its seeds. There are many different varieties of cucumber in different shapes and sizes. The three main types of cucumber are slicing, pickling and burpless.

History

Cucumbers are believed to be one of the oldest plants to have ever been cultivated. They are thought to have originated in India around 3,000 years ago. The fruit then spread to Greece and Italy, where it became an important part of the Roman diet. The Romans gradually spread them throughout the rest of Europe. Cucumbers were first taken to North America by the Europeans in the 16th century. It was once believed that the skin of cucumbers was poisonous, but this is just a myth.

Growing Cucumbers

Cucumbers grow on vines and they like a hot and dry climate and sandy soil. The fruit can be ready to pick just 8 to 10 weeks after the seeds have been sown. In the United States, Florida produces the most cucumbers. American slicing cucumbers have tough skin, which helps to protect them from pests while they are growing. Pickling cucumbers have thinner skin and are usually smaller than slicing cucumbers. The slicing cucumbers grown in England can be eaten without peeling as their skin is not as tough as other varieties.

How Cucumbers Are Used

Cucumbers tend to be eaten raw as a snack or in salads, or pickled. They can also be made into juice or turned into soup, which is eaten cold. Cucumbers can also be cooked or baked or turned into dips by adding ingredients such as sour cream. The nutrients in cucumbers are thought to be good for the skin and slices of cucumber are often placed over closed eyelids to reduce swelling. The nutrients of cucumbers are used in many skin creams and treatments.

About the Author

Lisa Walker began her journalism career in local newspapers. She later joined Teletext to work on its website and analogue and digital TV services. Walker spent time as a qualified childminder whilst raising her own two children and now enjoys a career writing and editing for various websites, including parent website Surreymummy.com.