High-tech Hydroponic Cukes

Cucumbers begin producing fruit 30 days from seedling

Kaua’i Fresh Farms is a food safety-certified hydroponic farm. Using organic methods including pest control whenever possible, they deliver vine-ripened produce to customers twice a week.

“A lot of people are under the impression that because we grow hydroponically our produce is GMO, but we do not use any GMO seeds,” says farm manager Marcel Persoon.

What’s growing: Apple bananas, baby lettuce mix, basil, beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green bell peppers, Italian eggplant, Japanese cucumber, papaya.

JAPANESE CUCUMBER

There are two types of cucumber, “slicing” and “pickling.” Japanese cucumbers are of the slicing variety because they are cultivated for fresh consumption. Vines at Kaua’i Fresh grow about 14 inches a day, and will start to produce fruit 30 days from seeding.

Kaua‘i Fresh Farms manager Marcel Persoon and GM Markeeta Smith. Daniel Lane photos

Season: Kaua’i Fresh Farms grows in climate-controlled, state-of-the-art greenhouses, so they can produce cucumbers year-round.

What to look for:

Cucumbers should be firm, rounded at their edges, and their color should be a bright medium to dark green. Avoid cucumbers that are yellow, puffy, have sunken, water-soaked areas, or are wrinkled at their tips.

Storage:

Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator for one to two days. Place unused cucumber in a tightly sealed container. Do not store at room temperature or they will become limp.

Kaua‘i Fresh Farms dedicates a greenhouse to cucumbers

Tip: Taste a piece of cucumber to see if it’s bitter. If it is, rubbing the two cut surfaces together until they foam seems to sweeten it.

Preparation:

The skin and seeds of cucumbers are rich in nutrients. If cucumbers are unsprayed, unwaxed and thin-skinned, they don’t need to be peeled. And unless they are very mature, they don’t need to be seeded.

Health benefits: Scientists have determined that several signaling pathways required for cancer cell development and survival can be blocked by cucumber’s phytonutrients. Cucumber polyphenols reduce the risk of breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancers as well as cardiovascular disease.

Kaua’i Fresh Farms’ produce can be found at: Island School, Kapa’a farmers market (Wednesdays at 3 p.m.), Banana Joe’s, Foodland, Harvest Market, Healthy Hut, Kojima, Papaya’s Natural Foods, Sueoka, Times/Big Save.

Vines grow about 14 inches a day

“We do just about every restaurant on the island, large and small,” says general manager Markeeta Smith. Call 826-0077 or visit KauaiFreshFarms.com.

CHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP

This chilled soup bursts with flavor, and it’s as thick as custard! Creamy avocado gives it a silky texture, lemon juice makes it tangy, and chicken stock adds rich undertones. For a complete meal, serve with a salad or fresh bread.

* 1 Japanese cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
* 1 avocado, scooped from shell
* 1 large green onion, coarsely chopped
* 2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
* 1 lemon, juiced
* 1 teaspoon dried dill, or 1 tablespoon fresh dill
* 1/2 teaspoon sugar
* 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
* 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Chilled Cucumber Soup. Daniel Lane photos

In a food processor or blender add cucumber, avocado, green onion, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Process until silky smooth. Add dill and sour cream and blend until combined. Slowly add chicken stock and blend until combined.

Chill several hours before serving. Garnish with fresh dill.

Makes two to four servings.

KauaianFresh.com

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