Kids Club Vol. 29: Cucumbers
Welcome to the latest issue of our ChopChop Kids Club newsletter!
Spring’s got us thinking about the color green. And the color green’s got us thinking about cucumbers! They’re crunchy, fresh, and juicy—and it’s easy to turn them into nearly instant salads and snacks. What’s your favorite cucumber? A plain one? A slice dipped in salad dressing? Or a dill pickle that, yes, started life as just a regular cucumber? We’ve got cucumber recipes, cucumber facts, and cucumber fun. Just in time for warmer weather.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Smashed cucumber salad
Smashed Cucumber Salad
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife (adult needed)
- Measuring spoons
- Plastic bag
- Small frying pan or rolling pin
- Small mixing bowl
- Flexible spatula or spoon
- 1 English cucumber (the kind wrapped in plastic), washed and partially peeled
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white or rice vinegar
- Put the cucumber in the plastic bag and put the bag on the cutting board.
- Gently hit the cucumber with the frying pan or rolling pin until it is smashed.
- Chop the smashed cucumber into 1- to 1½-inch pieces (if they’re not already small enough from smashing).
- Put the cucumber pieces in the bowl, add the salt and vinegar, and stir well. Taste a piece of cucumber. If it needs a pinch more salt or a splash more vinegar, add it and then taste again. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate up to 1 hour.
- Add 1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped.
- Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce.
- Add 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil.
- Swap in lemon juice for the vinegar.
How to Peel a Cucumber
When you peel a cucumber for the first time, it might be hard. That’s okay! Remember that a peeler is sharp, so be sure not to touch the blade. And always peel over a cutting board, bowl, or sink. (Don’t peel over a garbage can in case you drop your cucumber!)
1. Use a knife to trim the ends off the cucumber.
2. Hold the peeler in the hand you write with. Hold the cucumber in your other hand.
3. Push the peeler away from you along the length of the cucumber until a strip of peel comes off. Keep your fingers out of the way!
4. Turn the cucumber and remove another strip of peel. Keep turning and peeling until all the peel is gone.
5. Throw out or compost the peel.
To make this cucumber-y lemonade, thinly slice 1 peeled cucumber and 1 scrubbed lemon. Put the slices in a bowl, add a pinch of salt, and use a potato masher or a wooden spoon to mash them really hard until everything is completely crushed and very juicy, at least 2 minutes. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a pitcher, press on it to get out as much liquid as you can, then throw away or compost the solids from the strainer. Add 1½ tablespoons honey to the pitcher and stir to dissolve, then add 3½ cups cold water and stir again. Serve with plenty of ice.
If you ever eat a cucumber that tastes bitter, that’s cucurbitacin, a compound the cucumber produces to keep animals from wanting to eat them. Why do you think a cucumber plant wouldn’t want animals to eat the cucumbers?
When you next sit down to dinner, ask each person at the table to name one thing spring brings that they’re grateful for. What is everyone’s favorite part of this new season? If folks have more to say, you can always go around the table again.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska
All About Cukes
• According to Guinness World Records, the longest cucumber measured 42.1 inches and was grown in Wales in 2011.
• The heaviest cucumber weighed 23 pounds 7 ounces and was grown in England in 2015.
• 95% of a cucumber’s weight is water.
• A typical cucumber vine produces 10 cucumbers in a growing season, but the world record for production was 2,563 cucumbers from a single plant!
• China grows more than 75% of the world’s cucumbers.
5 Instant Snacks
- Top a whole-grain bagel and cream cheese with cucumber slices.
- Sandwich cheddar cheese between cucumber slices.
- Sprinkle cucumber chunks or slices with white vinegar and a pinch of salt for the simplest salad ever.
- Flavor a glass of water with a slice of cucumber.
- Dollop cottage cheese onto cucumber slices.
Did you know that cucumbers can help soothe red, tired eyelids? Treat a parent, sibling, or friend to a spa afternoon! Begin by laying cold cucumber slices over their closed eyes. Do you have a skin-soothing face mask you can slather on? Try it! Or make your own by mixing together 1 teaspoon each of plain oats, plain yogurt, and honey (or lay on a few more cucumber slices). Add any other refreshing elements you like, such as happy music, a scented candle, or a glass of Cucumber Quencher. And don’t forget to give yourself the same treatment!