Cucumbers

Statistics

  2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020p
Number Of Contracts 130 124 114 109 76 89 79
Tons Contracted 41,352 26,680 42,526 40,761 31,254 39,201 40,936
Tons Harvested 40,841 29,411 38,908 39,380 30,091 38,991  
Gross Farm Value(.000) $13,065 $11,057 $10,997 $12,412 $9,344 $11,171  

P = Preliminary

Source: Processor Information Returns


In 2019, 89 growers produced almost 40,000 tons of cucumbers for processing in Ontario, 90% of which were harvested by hand and 10% mechanically.  In 1974, when cucumbers were added to the OPVG Vegetable Marketing Plan, there were 2,053 producers of cucumbers for pickling growing approximately 5,335 acres and nine food plants in Ontario processing pickles.  Cucumbers in Ontario are planted from seedlings. The time for a seedling to be ready for harvest is approximately 55-70 days depending on the variety.

The ideal cucumber for pickling needs to be the right color, size, and contain very few seeds. After harvested, cucumbers are transported by a licenced greenshipper to a briner in the US where they are washed, graded, sized, and placed in a tank of brine (a mixture of vinegar, salt, garlic, and spices) to be fermented into pickles. Cucumbers are graded into five categories - No. 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s and Nubs & Crooks. Oversized cucumbers and nubs & crooks will be separated before this process and turned into relish, ensuring there is minimal waste.

History

Pickling cucumbers have been grown on farms for thousands of years, their first documentation dating back to 2030 BC. In ancient times pickling cucumbers were used for beauty & medicinal uses.

Later during the Industrial Revolution, mass production of picking cucumbers allowed this food to become an international staple. 

Today, pickling cucumbers are grown all over North America, Europe, and Asia. In southern Ontario, we are proud to have the soil and climate conditions that allow for the growth of high-quality cucumbers.

Nutrition & Health

Since pickles are a fermented food, they are prebiotic and probiotic, protecting your digestive system and promoting the growth of helpful bacteria and flora in the gut. Healthy gut bacteria can have a long-term positive impact on your digestive health.

Since many pickling cucumbers are processed into dill pickles it’s important to note the additional health benefits of dill being added. Since dill has quercetin, a phytochemical with cholesterol-lowering properties, its addition offers more potential benefits to individuals who are managing their cholesterol levels. Additionally, both dill and vinegar in pickles have antibacterial properties. This combination can help kill the bacteria in your mouth causing bad breath.

Overall, pickled cucumbers are a fat free and low-calorie food that contain natural antioxidants.

Cooking Tips

Simply adding pickles as a side with your lunch or dinner can be a great way to enjoy their taste and feel good about what you’re eating. Pickles can be a staple added to many meals.

  • Roll a halved pickle with deli meat and sliced cheese, then cut into desired bite sized pieces to make a perfect snack or party finger food

Interesting Facts

  • Have you ever heard of Cinnamon Pickles? Bright red, cinnamon-flavored pickles are produced by a multiday process and seen as a Thanksgiving or Christmas treat in the deep south.
  • If you are in a pickle, you are in a difficult position, or have a problem to which no easy answer can be found. It is believed Shakespeare coined the term and used it first in ‘The Tempest.’
  • You’re probably familiar with the age-old conundrum around tomatoes – are they fruit or vegetable. Well, cucumbers are also technically a fruit – a fruit of the vine, just like tomatoes.