As one of the most well-known vegetables in the world, cucumber comes in numerous varieties. In general, this long, thin vegetable is classified into two main types according to its purpose, that is, for slicing and pickling. Slicing cucumber is usually eaten fresh and can be found in the supermarket. Meanwhile, cucumber for pickling or pickled cucumber is commonly sold in the farmer’s market.
Moreover, in addition to the slicing and pickling types, there are other types of cucumber which serve different uses and purposes. Some countries, like Japan and Persia, even cultivate special types of cucumber that are slightly different from the common types. Let’s learn more about several cucumber varieties that are spread around the globe!
Slicing cucumber is the most popular type of this vegetable. It is also known as American cucumber. Its length ranges between six to nine inches. Meanwhile, its appearance is characterized by slightly narrowing ends and thick, glossy skin in dark green color.
Unlike slicing cucumbers that are largely found in the supermarkets or groceries, pickling cucumber belongs to the speciality produce. Thus, it is quite rare to find. Regarding size, this type of cucumber is smaller than the slicing type; it is only 3-4 inches in length. It also has a shorter and wider figure, while its color gradation ranges from dark to light green.
Armenian cucumber goes by several other names, including snake cucumber or snake melon. It is known as a long, twisted cucumber with thin skin and soft seeds. The skin of this variety is dark green in color but marked with long lines in pale or yellowish green. When it is ripe, the flesh of Armenian cucumber will turn yellow.
This variety is also known for having a mild flavor and strong, pleasant smell like muskmelon. Because of its crunchy texture, Armenian cucumber can be eaten raw or sliced for garnish. However, it is not recommended for pickling since its soft flesh easily turns to mush.
Garden cucumber is largely cultivated in North America. It has thick and smooth skin in dark green color. Before it is consumed or cooked, garden cucumber is usually waxed and seeded first. This process is intended to make the vegetable less bitter when eaten. If you want to use garden cucumber in a stir-fry or any other recipes, peeling its skin is also advisable.
Gherkin is known as a common type of pickling cucumber. This variety has slightly rough skin and comes in a small size that is less than two inches long. Because of this, gherkin is also known as mini cucumbers.
This type of cucumber is quite popular in France. Due to its small size, gherkin is a perfect choice for jar pickles. Pickled gherkin, also known as cornichons, is a classic addition to pâté, a thick and smooth dish that is made from the mixture of meat, fish, or vegetable.
Since it is originated in England and cultivated in some other European countries, hothouse cucumber is often called English or European cucumber. As the name infers, this variety is grown in a hothouse. For this reason, hothouse cucumber is sold at a relatively higher price than cucumbers that are grown in the field.
Hothouse or English cucumber is generally 1-2 feet in length and has thin, smooth skin. The most special characteristic of this variety is its seedless flesh and mild flavor. Because of this, hothouse cucumber is often eaten fresh as it is easier to digest. It is also considered a good addition to a cocktail. You can use a couple of slices of hothouse cucumber to spice up cucumber martini.
Japanese cucumbers, also known as kyuri, are considered one of the most delicious varieties of cucumbers. Their appearance is characterized by slender feature and dark green color. They also have tiny bumps along their thin skin.
Kyuri has a sweet and crisp flavor which becomes one of the reasons why many people love this variety. Besides its sweet-flavoured flesh, kyuri skin and small seeds can be consumed as well.
Kirby cucumber is versatile for daily consumption. It can be eaten fresh from the garden or cooked into various dishes. Kirby is also rich in flavor, so it is often preserved in vinegar as dill pickles.
The skin of Kirby cucumbers is thin and not waxed. The skin color ranges between yellowish green to dark green. Meanwhile, its flesh had a slightly crisp texture and filled with tiny seeds.
Lemon cucumber earns its name because it has a similar size to the fruit in question. Moreover, just like lemon, the skin of this variety also has a pale yellow color. The color will turn into golden shades of yellow when it is ripe. Because of this, lemon cucumber is also known as the yellow cucumber.
As for the taste, lemon cucumber is known for having a sweet, delicate flavor. Unlike some other types of cucumber, this variety is free from the bitter edge or any unpleasantly sharp taste. Its pleasant taste is not only appeared in the flesh but also its soft seeds. Lemon cucumber can be eaten raw, used as salad addition, or preserved in pickles.
Persian cucumber or Sfran cucumber has similar characteristics like the American slicing cucumber. However, this variety is squatter and shorter in size while having more compact flesh. In general, Persian cucumber has thin skin, but some other sub-varieties of this cucumber have bumpy skin like Kirby.
Due to its watery and crunchy flavor, Persian cucumber is often eaten as a raw vegetable. Moreover, because its sturdy feature can withstand heat, you can include Persian cucumber in stir-fry vegetable as well.
Those are some popular types of cucumber that can be found in the market or cultivated in the garden. Whether you want to consume it or grow it on your own vegetable garden, knowing different cucumber types and varieties will help you decide the right type for your needs.