With the searing summer heat tormenting the people, matured cucumber fruits that have invaded the markets and roadsides in Thanjavur district over the past couple of weeks have come as a welcome respite for the consumers from oppressive weather conditions.
Come summer, a slew of vegetables and fruits spring forth in the markets and roadsides to cool the consumers. Among them, cucumber fruits occupy a unique place because of their attractive, bright yellow and off green colour as also due to the fact that it is preferred variously as fresh tender fingerling, matured vegetable and as ripened fruit.
These days several makeshift roadside sales spots have sprung up in Thanjavur district where lots of cucumber fruits are on offer. The usually elongated cucumber fruits come in varied sizes and costs. The price ranges from ₹30 to even ₹200 for a fruit weighing around six kg. Many oversized cucumber fruits are also up grabs in the Kumbakonam neighbourhood.
Though predominantly a crop withstanding high temperatures and drought conditions, cucumber when cultivated in water abounding fields such as in the Cauvery-fed Kumbakonam region achieves fantastic growth that is reflected in its rich and radiant yellowish sheen on the outside and fleshy, sweet interiors that is whitish to sunrise pink in colour, explains a cucumber vendor D. Ravi of Darasuram.
Cucumber retains it water content through all its stages of growth and that is an important factor which also spins good revenue for the grower through all its stages of growth. Though in drought-prone Pudukkottai region, farmers prefer to harvest cucumber as tender fingers for its appealing juicy taste, here in Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Tiruvidaimarudur areas, we allow the vegetable to mature to the fruit stage before we harvest, observes a grower E. Bhaskar of Thirubhuvanam.
“Cucumber fruit tastes the best when taken along with a sprinkling of jaggery powder. It can also be consumed plain. But children of today do not really show any preference for cucumber fruit and that could take a toll on its cultivation unless parents introduce the fruit to their wards at a young age,” says T.G. Nambirajan, a retired government servant who lives in Chennai.