Cucumbers were mentioned in the Bible as being freely available in Egypt, even to the enslaved Israelites: We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely/the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic . The Israelites later came to cultivate the cucumber themselves, and Isaiah 1:8 briefly mentions the method of agriculture: The Daughter of Zion is left/like a shelter in a vineyard/like a hut in a field of melons/like a city under siege. The shelter was for the person who kept the birds away, and guarded the garden from robbers .

Cucumbers have been cultivated for over 3,000 years. They originated in the foothills of the Himalayas, in or near present-day India. They have been grown in Western Asia for nearly as long, and from there, they spread to Europe via the Romans. Records of cucumber cultivation in France date to the ninth century, in England to the fourteenth century, and in North America by the mid-sixteenth century. The Spaniards brought cucumbers to Haiti in 1494. In 1535, Jacques Cartier, a French explorer, found " very great cucumbers " grown on the site of what is now Montreal.

Cucumbers are members of the gourd family, which includes melons (watermelon and cantelope) and squashes (summer squash, winter squash, zucchini, and pumpkin). The English name cucumber derives from the Latin, Cucumis sativus . Gurke (German), aggouria (Greek), and gherkin (British) all derive from old Aryan.

The history of cucumber cultivation methods is very interesting. Pliny reported that the Romans used greenhouses to produce out-of-season cucumbers for Emperor Tiberius (during the first century). Apparently, his table was never without cucumbers. Charlemagne had cucumber grown in his gardens, and reportedly introduced them into England in the early 1300s (they were subsequently "lost" and reintroduced to England about 250 years later).  Versailles’ Potager du Roi (King’s vegetable garden) also produced cucumbers, starting around 1680. The King’s gardener borrowed from a melon cultivation technique, and grew his cucumbers under glass, which acted as a greenhouse and expedited maturity.

Cucumbers are now known to contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol-- three lignans that have a strong history of research in connection with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as well as several cancer types, including breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Fresh extracts from cucumbers have recently been shown to have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. As a member of the Cucurbitaceae family of plants, cucumbers are a rich source of triterpene phytonutrients called cucurbitacins. Cucurbitacins A, B, C, D and E are all contained in fresh cucumber.