Cucumbers 101:Different Kinds & How to Use Them
Cool as a cucumber. When the dog days of summer hit that‘s exactly how most of us want to feel! Here on the farm we’re working hard to grow you the best, organic cucumbers and fill your shares or deliveries with them. We love variety—it’s the spice of life! In that spirit we grow a number of cucumber varieties at Moon Valley.
So, what’s the difference between certain cucumbers anyways?
We want you to feel empowered to eat and enjoy your produce when you receive it! Read on to learn more about the different cucumbers we grow at Moon Valley Farm and the best ways to enjoy each.
Slicers are bred for fresh eating and have smooth skins. They are usually consumed unripe because they become tough and sour as the fruits mature. While you can pickle slicers, they’re centers tend to be softer and seedier making them less crisp throughout when pickled. Their smooth exterior and sweet, cooling flavor make them perfect for raw snacking though! Slicers are best for salads, crudités, gazpacho and sushi. These cukes also tend to have the thickest skins, so some people prefer to peel them.
Here on the farm we’re growing the following slicing varieties:
Marketmore - This is a favorite variety in the Northeast U.S. and chances are you have eaten Marketmore cucumbers before. The slender fruits grow to about 8 inches long and sport a crisp interior with a dark green outer skin.
White - These beauties have a pale ivory skin that is both eye catching and milder than the normal green varieties. White cucumbers are great for fresh eating and offer a milder flavor with less bitterness.
General Lee - General Lee is known for being extremely productive, producing lots of cucumbers consistently throughout the season. The flavor is subtly sweet and perfect for fresh eating. This variety is also known for having straight, uniform fruits.
Picklers are bred especially for pickling and have bumpy skins with thick, meaty interiors that are solid throughout and lack any voids in the center. This makes for a crisp, crunchy pickle that isn’t soggy in the middle (although pickling recipes play a part too). You can eat pickling cucumbers raw, but they can be more bitter, and are generally more bumpy and less uniform than slicers. If you’re not up to canning pickles, a refrigerator pickle recipe will help you make short (and tasty!) work of these garden gems.
Here on the farm we’re growing the following pickling varieties:
Harmonie - These cukes are crunchy, sweet and perfect for pickles! Harmonie is a European style pickling cucumber with smooth skin and that has small spines. It’s also suitable for gherkins when harvested at a miniature size.
Northern Pickling - Northern Pickling plants bear cucumbers early in the season. The fruits are blocky and on the smaller size (3-5 inches). Originally developed in Maine, this is a prolific producer in the Mid-Atlantic as well.
Adam - Just like Harmonie, Adam is a smooth-skinned European style cucumber. Through careful breeding it produces very heavy crops of uniform cukes that are exceptionally crisp.
Seedless vs. Japanese
Seedless cucumbers are parthenocarpic. These means they literally contain no seeds because through careful breeding they are able to produce fruits without pollination. Ordinarily, cucumbers need to be pollinated in order to fruit (which in turn creates seeds as well). By comparison, Japanese cucumbers (and similar ones like English cucumbers) have only a few small, palatable seeds that are easily eaten.
Both seedless and Japanese type cucumbers are also sometimes called “burpless” because they are less bitter, and reported to be easier to digest. Each of these kinds of cucumber tend to have thinner skins and a sweeter flavor than slicers or picklers.
These cukes are perfect dipped into creamy hummus or yogurt dressing, chopped up for a salad or served as a side at summer barbeques. Their delicate texture and sweet flavor also make them more of a hit with kids that might find other varieties bitter. Lastly, these are also a prime choice for tzatziki or raita (pachadi) recipes!
Here on the farm we’re growing the following seedless and burpless varieties:
Corinto - Corinto is a hybrid that combines exceptional flavor with a very small seed cavity and a thinner skin than most slicers.
Armenian - This variety from the Middle East is technically a melon! Melons are closely related to cucumbers and with the Armenian variety it’s easy to see why.