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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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cucumber Cucumis sativus, one of the oldest cultivated vegetables, grown for some 4,000 years, may have originated in S. India. Cucumbers were known in Europe in classical and medieval times, and were introduced by Columbus to Haiti in 1494, after which they soon spread all over N. America.

Like other cucurbits, cucumbers have a very high water content (96 per cent). Of the large number (around 100) of varieties now cultivated, about two-thirds are for eating, and one-third for pickling; the longer fruits of the former are sold fresh, whereas the pickled cucumbers are relatively short and come packed in their pickle in jars.