6 Cucumber Varieties and How to Use Them
Cucumbers are a deliciously refreshing veggie that tastes amazing in salads, gazpachos and all on their own. Here are some popular cucumber varieties with how to identify, grow and eat them.
Best to pick: When the cuke is anywhere from 11-15 inches, which takes about 55-75 days.
With its long, curved shape, the Armenian cucumber has gained the nicknames snake cucumber and snakemelon. The thin skin of an Armenian cucumber will be either a uniform shade of light green, or have light yellow and dark green pinstripes. Keep the skin on and eat on its own, or add to salads or a dip, like this 9-layer Greek dip.
Best to pick: English cucumbers are most commonly grown in a greenhouse, which makes them more expensive to buy. If you’re growing your own, wait until they are about 12-24 inches long.
English cucumbers typically come wrapped in plastic at the grocery store. It has a deep green hue and pinched ends. Sweet and mild, this seedless cucumber is perfect for chopped salads and canapes because you don’t have to scoop on the centers to prevent bogging down the recipe with excess water. This minty-watermelon and cucumber salad is the most refreshing way to eat this type of cuke.
Best to pick: When the cukes are consistently dark green and about 8-10 inches long, they’re ready to be picked.
These standard grocery store cucumbers are straight with dark green flesh that occasionally have a light yellow patch near the top. Since nearly all standard cucumbers from the grocery store are coated in a layer of wax to prevent bruising and loss of moisture, be sure to either thoroughly scrub or peel before eating. This variety is a good choice for recipes that require peeled cucumbers, like this salmon with cucumber-lime sauce, or cucumbers in bulk, like these Pennsylvania Dutch cucumbers, since they tend to be less expensive at the store.
Best to pick: This short cucumber only needs to grow about 3-6 inches long before being picked.
Kirbys are small and stout with a bumpy skin that is usually a mix of green and yellow patches. Becuase of their incredibly crunchy texture. kirby cucumbers are just begging to be pickled. If you’ve never pickled cucumbers before, check out this handy guide.
Best to pick: This cucumber is best picked when it’s about the size of a tennis ball or tight fist.
Like the name suggests, these cucumbers resemble a lemon; rounded with thin, marbled yellow skin. With a light, mild taste and crispy texture, lemon cucumbers are best eaten on their own or sliced in a salad. You can also hollow these cucumbers and use them as cups for iced tea or a small bowl for gazpacho or salsa.
Shutterstock / Elena Hramova
Best to pick: After growing only 2 or 3 inches long, these miniature cucumbers will be ready to be picked.
Gherkins are short and stubby, with bumpy skin that tends to be a light shade of green. Though they can be eaten raw, gherkins are most commonly pickled and served on a relish tray, or to top off a Bloody Mary. Don’t want to pickle your own cucumbers? Check out which is the best brand of pickles around, here.