Do you consume Dutch cucumber? That elongated, smooth variety of cucumber? If you live in Spain surely you have not seen it in greengrocers and supermarkets despite being the most produced variety in the country. Do you know what happens to him? We will tell you.
WHO DOES NOT REMEMBER THE FAMOUS CUCUMBER CRISIS?
Nobody will forget the famous cucumber food crisis that came to Spain in 2011, being a totally false and unfounded accusation, without basis, that harmed us as a producing country and with which we had nothing to do. The outbreak of E. coli that took a few dozen people ahead, was caused by sprouts grown in Lower Saxony as later recognized by the German government. But the damage was done even though we have one of the best safety and hygiene systems in the food chain.
It was neither a cucumber crisis, nor was it Spanish, but in the collective image, this episode will always be linked to Spain and the Dutch cucumber we are talking about today.
DUTCH CUCUMBER. A VARIETY PRODUCED AND NOT CONSUMED
When a country becomes a global producer of something, many times the country itself doesn’t even smell it. It does not consume it. What is this about? Market and cultural issue many times. Export does it all.
It is curious in the case of this vegetable. The Dutch cucumber is a variety of cucumber with some characteristics, which we will now see in depth, and which are liked by countries in central and northern Europe and in Spain, however, it has not fully set.
Here we prefer our Spanish cucumber or at most the French cucumber (somewhat softer) but it is difficult to see the Dutch cucumber offer in the store. They are all the same species Cucumis sativus . They are different varieties and within each variety there are different cultivars
Everything is exported, absolutely everything, and we are not only the second largest exporter, but a single region of Spain takes the credit. It is Almería. Almería has become the second world exporter followed by Mexico.
LET’S GO TO THE OFFICIAL DATA
To give us an idea. According to FAO data, in the 28 countries of the European Union around 3,000 million kg of cucumber are grown per year. Only in Spain some 700 million kg are produced . This means that 25% of the total in the EU is grown in Spain, a real outrage.
One in every 4 cucumbers in the EU is produced in Spain
AND WHO BUYS US THE CUCUMBER?
Mainly 4 countries: Germany, United Kingdom, Holland and France in this order. Among them, they take more than 75% of the cucumber that is exported from our garden. And only Germany takes 40% being the main buyer.
WHAT MAKES THE DUTCH CUCUMBER SO EXPORTED? CHARACTERISTICS
The Dutch cucumber, compared to the Spanish cucumber, is much milder in taste, the meat is more delicate, and the skin is really thin. It can perfectly resemble that of zucchini. In fact, it can be eaten without making it bitter.
- Much milder taste (less bitter)
- More delicate meat
- Much thinner and edible skin
- Longer fruit length (up to 40cm). The Spanish does not exceed 15 cm and the French 20-25 cm.
Of the three most consumed cucumbers, Spanish, French and Dutch, the latter is the mildest, followed by French, and the most bitter and with the most intense flavor is Spanish . The morphological differences are evident in the photo. The Dutch has longer length, ribbed smooth skin and dark green. The Spanish yellow at the tips, it is short, of more caliber and of hard and rough skin with a brighter green color.
The reason why Dutch cucumber is not eaten in Spain is that we are used to the stronger flavor of our Spanish or French cucumber, which although milder, does not have the smoothness of Dutch. And we produce more of the Dutch than of ours because we export to many countries and the market rules . We are the orchard of Europe and it is a title that we have earned with the sweat of our sun so appreciated for the summer and the holidays and so necessary for all these fruit and vegetable crops .
IN SPAIN WE HAVE STRONG FLAVORS
The Spanish gastronomy, and the Mediterranean in general, is characterized by using vegetables with force and a lot of flavor. The garlic , the onion , olive oil, the spices … all of them are widely used in Mediterranean diets and have very intense flavors. This is where the preference for the most bitter cucumber may also come from.
Anyway, cucumber is one of those vegetables that some people can’t handle. Perhaps if you try the Dutch cucumber you can find a variety that pleases your palate.
LET’S LOOK AT THE CULTIVATION OF THE DUTCH CUCUMBER
In principle we have to say that it is a greenhouse crop (for commercial production purposes) to be grown all year round. If it is in season, it can be cultivated in the garden in the open, even in typically cold areas, but only during the summer.
The climate conditions in the greenhouse are characterized by having a relatively high temperature on average during the day and with a lot of contrast at night. Differences of up to 10ºC are common. The optimal range is between 18-20ºC up to 28-29ºC. Relative humidity is also high 80-90% approx. during the night which causes that in the thermal contrast of the night, it saturates and condenses inside the greenhouse due to the marked thermal differences. It is not recommended that the night temperature drop from 18ºC and below 12ºC we can already have damage from beans
As a cucurbit, it requires a lot of light. It greatly influences its production although it can grow without problems in short days.
Although it adapts to different types of soil, the optimum is book soil, manual soil: well drained, loose, very rich in organic matter since cucurbits are very demanding of soil nutrients . It supports a slightly acidic pH, tending to neutral (between 5.5 and 7) and is quite sensitive to salinity .
IRRIGATION AND SUBSCRIBER
Greenhouse composting programs often come with fertigation irrigation . Irrigation, always drip, if it is in a garden with a watering can in the lower area of the plant. There is usually abundant irrigation at planting or transplanting and a period of “stress” to force the root system to seek and spread. Irrigation doses vary from summer to winter but on average they are usually about 2 liters per square meter of plantation. Below more detailed data.
Average consumptions (l / m 2 · day) of the “Dutch type” cucumber cultivation in the greenhouse.
Source: Agricultural Technical Documents. Experimental Station “Las Palmerillas”. Rural Bank of Almería. Extracted from: infoagro.com
MOST COMMON PESTS AND DISEASES OF DUTCH CUCUMBER
They actually affect all varieties of cucumbers.
The pests that affect the most:
The most common diseases are:
- Virosis transmitted by the pests themselves. The most famous is the PepMV cucumber mosaic virus.
- Powdery mildew (fungal disease).
- Gray rot Botrytis cinerea (fungal)
- White (fungal) rot
OTHER ARTICLES RELATED TO CUCUMBER