Cucumber, which contains 95 per cent water is a good way to keep oneself hydrated. It contains zero cholesterol, is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and is a health food.

Searing heat of the summer in Tiruchi, which is not unusual for the city, is forcing the residents scramble for natural coolants to stay hydrated. It comes as no surprise then that one of the most popular foods that provide the much needed respite from the heat, is none other than the cucumber.

Cucumber, which contains 95 per cent water is a good way to keep oneself hydrated. It contains zero cholesterol, is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and is a health food.

Roadside stalls

Vendors selling the juicy fruit have set up stalls at various parts of the city, including bus stands, market places, and roadsides.

The stocks come from several villages around the city in the morning to the market and some vendors take it around the streets.

Each vendor sells around 30 to 40 bunches a day in the season.

The cucumbers are sourced from Kumaravayalur, Pirattiyur, Iniyaanallur, and Mutharasanallur villages, according to vendors.

A bunch of six pieces costs just Rs. 10 in Gandhi Market. The price ranges between Rs. 10 and Rs. 15 for a bunch at other places and it can be purchased for a less amount when one bargains.

“The sales peaks in the summer and people flock my stall to purchase large quantities of cucumber. I sell watermelon alongside and display both fruits in cut pieces and make salads with them, to attract more customers,” said P. Shanmugam, who has been a vendor for more than 10 years.

N. Ganapathiram, a regular consumer at Gandhi Market, says he buys and stocks cucumbers in the fridge for three days.

“All the members of our family savour the taste of cucumber. We cut it into small pieces, add a little salt and chilly powder, and sprinkle a hint of lemon to make a delicious snack,” he says.

“Cucumber is extremely low in calories and contains a high amount of dietary fibre, so it is a preferred option for weight loss,” says A. Priya, a housewife from Puthur. She makes cucumber pickle, which is a spicy accompaniment to curd rice.

Its mostly women

A large number of women, hailing from nearby villages, bring cucumber in wicker baskets and sell them, sitting on the pavement on the flyover near Head Post Office.

M. Kuralarasi says the cultivation of cucumber has gone down over the past few years. “A large number of farm lands have been converted into housing plots and this has contributed to a decrease in cultivation,” she says sadly.

Despite the reduction in cultivation, truckloads of the cool cucumber keep arriving in the city and help residents beat the heat this summer.