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Cucumber originally came from India or thereabouts. They belong to the cucurbitaceae family, a close relative of the cantaloupe, pumpkin and watermelon.

They grow in vines and require warm weather to develop. I'll never forget my first year as a farmer. I had inherited a bit of farmland and being a novice I decided to plant a couple of acres of cucumbers. I had visions of neat jars of cucumber pickles stacked away in the kitchen pantry, (at the time I didn't even have a farm house, let alone a kitchen pantry, but I was very young and that seemed like a minor detail). Things went very smoothly at first.. By then I had built a temporary outdoor kitchen and invested in a large stove and cooking pot, plus other essential items.

Anyway, harvest time came and some serious picking had to be done. Cucumbers must be no bigger than two to three inches for best pickling results. Unfortunately cucumbers grow at the rate of what seemed like an inch a day. Friends had to come in to help with the harvesting. And there I was salting, chopping and pickling away, morning, noon and night. I must admit that it got to the point where I couldn't bear the sight of those bushels of cucumbers coming in. I felt like Mickey Mouse in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". But that's all in the past. What could be better than some crunchy cucumber bread and butter pickles with a slice of smoked Virginia ham? Or those delicious Middle Eastern fresh cucumber and yogurt combinations?.

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