Cucumbers for the home garden can be divided into four popular cucumber types: (1) slicing, (2) pickling, (3) burpless, and (4) space savers for small gardens and container.
Here are 20 sure-fired cucumber varieties to grow in your garden.
- Slicing Cucumbers Varieties:
- Burpless Cucumber Varieties:
- Space-Saver Cucumber Varieties:
- Pickling Cucumber Varieties:
- Cucumber Growing Success Tips
- Travel & Culture
- Not all cucumbers are long and green. Get to know the different varieties.
- How to Identify the Kinds of Cucumbers
- Types of Cucumbers
- 7 Cucumber Varieties to Grow This Year
- 7 Cucumber Varieties You Need in Your Garden!
- Persian Cucumber There are different types of cucumber such as Persian, Lemon, Kirby, Japanese, English and Armenian. Nowadays Persian cucumbers are being cultivated all over the world. Persian cucumbers’ shape is cylindrical and squat and its skin is thin and easy to… 0
- What are the (health benefits) of Persian cucumbers?
- Persian Cucumber, American Cucumber & English Cucumber
- Japanese Cucumbers in Japanese Cuisine
- Where to Find Japanese Cucumbers
- Substitutions for Japanese Cucumbers
- Selection and Storage
- General & History
- Using Cucumbers
- Cucumber Varieties
- Cucumber – (standard issue)
- Armenian Cucumber
- Beijing Cucumber
- English Cucumber
- European Cucumber
- Gherkin – True
- Gherkin – Cucumber
- Gherkin – Indian
- Hothouse Cucumber
- Japanese Cucumber
- Kirby Cucumber
- Peking Cucumber
- Persian Cucumber
- Wild Cucumber – California
- Wild Cucumber – Other
- Health & Nutrition
Slicing Cucumbers Varieties:
• Greensleeves. 53 days. Excellent for salads and slicing. Dark-green, cylindrical fruit to 8½ inches long; uniform size, slightly tapered; small seed cavity. Good yield in home garden on vigorous vines. Responds well to touch conditions. Early maturing. Gyonecious, mostly female flowers.
• Marketmore 76. 58 days. ALS, AN, CMV, DM, S. Standard slicing fruit, uniform size, long and slender. Dark green fruit, 8 to 9 inches long; white spined; has uniform dark green color gene which reduces the number of yellow bellies at harvest time. Very good in home gardens. Open-pollinated.
• Raider. 50-52 days. ALS, CMV, S. Excellent flavor; for salads and slicing. Straight, cylindrical, smooth, glossy, deep-green skin; uniform size. Vigorous, robust vines. Plant early, does well in Canada and cool northern gardens. Gyonecious, mostly female flowers Hybrid.
• Straight Eight. 58 days. AAS. Great taste; excellent slicing’ also for pickling. Uniform, straight, deep-green fruit, 6 to 9 inches long 2½ inches in diameter, rounded at ends, white spined; small seed cavity. Small, vigorous, high yield vine for home garden; extended harvest. Heirloom. Open-pollinated.
• Sweet Success. 55-58 days. AAS, AN, ALS, CMV, DM. PM. S. Sweet, crisp, flavor. No bitterness. Thin skin does not require peeling. Smooth, straight, medium-green fruit 12 to 14 inches long; white spined; seedless. Vigorous, high yield vine sets fruit without pollination. Best grown on stake or trellis, suitable for greenhouse cultivation. Hybrid.
Burpless Cucumber Varieties:
• Orient Express. 64 days. DM. Crunchy, crisp, succulent, mild, burpless fruit; easy to digest. Peeling skin is not necessary. Slim, straight, dark-green fruits, 12 to 14 inches long, 1½ inches across. Vigorous vine; grow on trellis or fence. Hybrid.
Space-Saver Cucumber Varieties:
• Bush Champion. 60-80 days. M. Suitable for container growing. Staight, bright-green fruit 9 to 11 inches long. Short compact plant. Produces both male and female flower over a long season.
• Bush Crop. 55 days. Flavorful, crisp, tender fruit. For slicing and salads. Excellent for containers and small gardens. Straight medium-green fruit 6 to 8 inches long. Dwarf, bushy plant to 3 feet tall, nearly free of runners. Very productive. Hybrid.
• Bush Whopper. 55 days. For small gardens and containers. Large 8 to 12 inch fruit on dwarf, mound-shaped plants, no runners; heavy yield over long season.
• Fanfare. 63 days. AAS. Disease tolerant. Great taste. Smooth, slender, green fruit 8 to 9 inches long. Uniform green no yellow bellies. Dwarf bush, high yield, early maturity, extended harvest. Hybrid.
• Spacemaster. 58 days. M, S. Suitable for containers. Smooth, cylindrical, dark-green fruit 7 to 8 inches long. Compact short-vined plant to 24 inches tall and wide. Very productive. Pick regularly to avoid misshapen fruit late in season. Open-pollinated.
Pickling Cucumber Varieties:
• County Fair 83. 48-53 days. AN, DM, M. PM, S. Sweet, full flavor, mild, easy to digest, no bitterness Fruit to 3 inches long almost seedless if kept away from other cucumbers. Pickler for chips, spears, whole pickling. Predominately female flowers. Vigorous, strong vines for home gardens. Hybrid.
• National Pickling. 53 days. M, S. Solid, crispy. Dark-green, blocky fruit to 5 to 7 inches long, 2½ inches wide; black spines. For sweet and dill pickles. Heavy yield over long season. Early harvest from vigorous vines. Hybrid.
• Pickle Bush. 52 days. CMV, PM. Tasty, crisp fruit. Deep-green fruit with pale green stripes to 4½ inches long, 1½ inches across; blocky, classic pickle look. Very productive, compact vines to 2 feet long; suitable for containers.
• Regal. 48-52 days. Resistant to most diseases. Long, slim shape for pickle chips, spears, whole pickles; good brining quality. Early producing high yields over long season. Gyonecious, mostly female flowers. Excellent for home gardens in all regions. Hybrid.
• Saladin. 55 days. AAS, DM, CMV, PM. Crisp, tender skinned. For pickling or fresh eating; pick at any stage. Curved, bright-green fruit to about 5 inches long by 1¾ inches wide; small seeds. Good choice for greenhouse growing. Mostly female flowers. European origin. Hybrid.
Grow 80 vegetables: THE KITCHEN GARDEN GROWERS’ GUIDE
Cucumber Growing Success Tips
A big cucumber harvest requires just a bit of extra effort early in the season. Here are three must-dos for cucumbers success:
• Turn away cucumber beetles when plants are young. Cucumber beetles eat plants and spread disease. Set floating row covers over seeded rows and seedling to exclude cucumber beetles early. Lift row covers when plants begin to flower.
• Keep your crop off the ground. Train cucumbers up a vertical of A-frame trellis. Cucumbers are climbers; let them climb. Fruit hanging off a trellis will grow straight and be easy to pick. Start training cucumbers up when they begin to flower.
• Prevent fungal disease from getting a grip on the garden. Avoid overhead irrigation; use a soaker hose or drip irrigation. Spray vines early in the day with compost tea to protect plants from fungal spores. Keep the garden free of weeds which can harbor pests and diseases.
Here are some additional cucumber growing tips:
Planting. Plant cucumbers in full sun in rich soil. Sow seeds or set out seedlings in raised hills or in rows after all danger of frost has passed in spring and the soil has warmed to at least 60°. Successive crops can follow 4 weeks later. Plant one side of the trellis early and the other side later.
Early care. Keep cucumbers evenly moist. Mulch to conserve soil moisture once the soil has warmed. Exclude cucumbers beetles from young plants with floating row covers. Cucumber beetles spread bacterial wilt and eat seedlings. This effort will pay dividends.
Choose the right variety. Choose disease-resistant varieties and choose the variety right for your needs: slicing cucumbers are for salads and sandwiches; pickling cucumbers are for storing; and European cucumbers are for fresh eating–they are tender skinned, have no seeds, and mild flavored. Double check the cucumber’s pollination requirement: gynoecious cucumber varieties produce female flowers only and require a separate male pollinator (these are usually disease resistant); parthenocarpic varieties produce only female flowers but do not require a pollinator–these are a good choice for greenhouse growing.
More growing tips at How to Grow Cucumbers.
AAS=All America Selection, resists most disease.
ALS=Angular leaf spot.
CMV=Cucumber mosaic virus.
Travel & Culture
Not all cucumbers are long and green. Get to know the different varieties.
Recently, I visited cucumber breeder, Eric Bal, who is employed by Rijk Zwaan. Perhaps an explanation is needed; a breeder selects plants with hereditary characteristics and in doing so can develop new vegetable types. Vegetable plants start as a seed and then are sold to growers all over the world by companies such as Rijk Zwaan.
Eric shows me around in the demonstration greenhouse, which is very cool since you enter a kind of showroom, but one solely for cucumber plants. Small, big, crooked, straight, with or without prickles, white, and light green. Cucumbers are more versatile than most people know. It’s all really interesting so I throw a lot of questions Eric’s way.
Where do cucumbers come from?
Cucumbers were already grown 3,000 years ago in China and Nepal. Marco Polo most likely brought the plant to Europe, where it is still widely eaten to this day. Yet the cucumber is not a widely-used vegetable in all parts of the world. Did you know cucumber is hardly eaten in African countries and that while most pickles are grown in Indian, the Indian people themselves do not eat pickles?
How long does it take before a new type of cucumber can be found in supermarkets?
The breeding profession requires passion and patience. It’s certainly fun to mix taste, colours, and textures to create a new variety. However, it’s at least seven years before you have a new type of cucumber that can be sold in a supermarket. Snack cucumbers can be found supermarket shelves everywhere these days, but they’ve only been around for five years. The newest members of Eric’s snack cucumber varieties are the cute little white and green cucumbers (see picture).
How fast does a cucumber grow?
The cucumber plant can rightfully be called Speedy Gonzales. Where cabbage species take three to four months to grow into an edible product, the cucumber can be harvested just two weeks after the plant flowers.
Is it true the cucumber used to be tastier?
A much-heard statement is that cucumbers used to have more flavour. Or that cucumbers from vegetable gardens taste better. Is this so? According to Eric, this has to do with shelf life. A cucumber from a vegetable garden is harvested and consumed immediately. The grower’s product takes one or more days before it hits the supermarket shelves. The taste is lost as quickly as a cucumber grows. A cucumber consists for 97% of water. As soon as you harvest the cucumber, it starts to dry out. It is, therefore, best to consume that cucumber as soon as possible.
Why are snack cucumbers more expensive than normal cucumbers?
Firstly, they are packaged in small boxes, as opposed to a regular cucumber which is usually not packaged. Besides the harvesting is up to 50% more expensive as it takes much more time to pick and sort the tiny cucumbers.
Which types of cucumbers are there and how are they eaten?
There are so many types of cucumbers, too many to mention, but we’ll highlight a few because of the special shape or usage and how they are consumed in certain countries:
In China and Japan, they eat cucumbers with prickles. These have a firmer structure, making them suitable for stir-frying.
In Russia, they eat a lot of pickles. Not just the sour pickled variety, but also raw since they have more bite, preferably with prickles and stripes intact. A raw pickle has a drier and much firmer bite than a cucumber.
Turkey leads when it comes to snack cucumbers. They have a strong snack culture and prefer lighter coloured cucumbers.
In the UK, cucumbers are cut into portions and sold this way in the supermarket. So, there you can buy a quarter of a cucumber. This originates from a time when cucumbers were more expensive, but the tradition has lived on.
In Poland midi-cucumbers are popular. The size of these cucumbers is between a large and a snack cucumber.
In the USA they love mini cucumbers, preferably as a one-bite snack, so you only have to dip into your yoghurt sauce once.
Instead of throwing them away, supermarkets are selling crooked cucumbers in more and more countries. This is a good way to prevent food waste.
Your cucumber delivered by a drone
Lastly, I ask Eric what his dream is concerning cucumbers. It’s not about breeding a crazy type of cucumber, but ensuring the cucumber reaches the consumer as fresh as possible. In short, he would like to see the logistics chain from harvesting to plate shortened. So that the consumer can once again enjoy the taste of a fresh cucumber. Supermarkets that work with local growers or parties to deliver the product directly from the grower to the consumer seem like the best option to him. Who knows, our cucumber may in future be delivered by a drone!
Eric Bal, Cucumber breeder
Get inspired by new cucumber recipes and let us know in the comments what is your favourite cucumber recipe.
Share with friends
How to Identify the Kinds of Cucumbers
Cucumbers are popular for raw consumption as well as pickling. A member of the gourd family, cucumbers are grown on vines beneath a canopy of leaves. Most varieties are best eaten when green, before they become ripe. A ripe cucumber turns orange or yellow and takes on a bitter taste. Cucumbers are known as a healthy vegetable because in addition to containing fiber through their seeds and skin, they are made from 90 percent water. Many varieties of cucumbers exist which boast different qualities and are good for different purposes.
Measure the length of the cucumber. Armenian cucumbers are longer than most other varieties. English cucumbers are also long, but are usually slightly shorter than Armenian cucumbers. Garden cucumbers, which are the most common variety in North America, are usually shorter than both Armenian and English varieties. Kirby cucumbers are noticeably shorter than almost all other types of cucumbers.
Examine the thickness of the cucumber. Armenian cucumbers are thinner than most. English cucumbers are also thin but are often slightly thicker than Armenian cucumbers. Garden cucumbers are often thicker than Armenian and English cucumbers. Kirby cucumbers are thicker than other varieties.
Inspect the color of the cucumber. Armenian cucumbers vary between dark green, light green, and yellow-green. English cucumbers are almost always dark green. Garden cucumbers have a dark green skin that can be differentiated from Armenian and English cucumbers because it is very smooth and has very few small bumps or spines. Kirby cucumbers range from completely yellow to dark green.
Pay attention to the taste of the cucumber. Armenian cucumbers have a sweet taste. English cucumbers have a very mild flavor that is almost undetectable. Garden cucumbers have a mild taste but their skin is often bitter. Kirby cucumbers have a strong and distinct flavor that can be sweet or tangy.
Examine the skin and, if available, the seeds of a cucumber. Armenian cucumbers have a very thin skin and small, soft transparent seeds. English cucumbers also have a very thin skin and, while their seeds are larger, there are often very few of them. Garden cucumbers have a thick skin and their seeds are not noticeable. Kirby cucumbers have a skin that is bumpier than other varieties and their seeds are often undetectable.
Looking for some great cucumber varieties to grow in the garden this year?We have you covered with today’s article!
And whether you are growing for fresh eating, or for making delicious pickles, there is sure to be a variety or two that will fit the bill.
Cucumbers are one of the tastiest crops a gardener can grow. And one of the most popular to grow in the home garden.
So why grow your own?
For starters, home-grown cucumbers are always sure to be crisp and fresh. And that is important for eating, and for making pickles!
But of more importance, commercially grown cucumbers can be covered in pesticides. In fact, they are one of the most highly-sprayed pesticide crops of all.
So if you are looking to eat with an organic touch, growing your own is the way to go.
Types of Cucumbers
There are basically two main varieties and two growing styles of cucumbers.
There are two basic varieties of cucumbers – slicing and pickling.
Pickling and slicing cucumbers are the two varieties. While bush and climbing or vining are the two styles.
Pickling cukes tend to be smaller and have a smaller seed core. As the name implies, they the perfect choice for making pickles.
Slicing cucumbers tend to be larger and longer. They are the best choice when it comes to salads and fresh eating.
Bush varieties of slicing or pickling cucumbers tend to stay more compact. Vining varieties, on the other hand, will grow on long vines.
Making pickles! One of the advantages of growing cucumbers.
Vining varieties can be trained onto a trellis or fence, or left to sprawl on the ground.
So what are the best cucumber varieties to select?
It all depends of course on what you want to grow them for – pickles, or fresh eating.
We have included 3 of each type below. Along with each variety, we have included a seed link.
6 Great Cucumber Varieties To Plant
Boston Pickling Cucumber
The Boston Pickling Cucumber is a seedless variety with outstanding flavor. It has origins that date back to the late 1800’s in Boston.
The Boston Pickling Cucumber
This heirloom variety remains a pickle-making favorite today. The smooth-skinned cukes grow to about 3″ in length when mature.
It produces mature cucumbers in as little as 50 to 55 days. It continues flowering and bearing as long as the cucumbers are picked.
The Bush Pickle
This Bush Pickle Cucumber is a good choice, especially if you are short on space.
Plants stay small and compact, usually around 24 to 36 inches in height. They even grow well in containers, making them perfect for the patio.
The Bush Pickle cucumber is sweet, with a smooth outer skin. Fruits range between 3 to 5 inches long.
It matures in about 50 to 55 days in normal growing conditions.
Wisconsin SMR Pickling Cucumber
Not as well known as the Boston or the Bush pickling variety, the Wisconsin SMR cucumber is nonetheless a great choice for pickle makers.
It is a highly productive plant. Cukes grow to about 6″ inches in length, with a 2″ to 2 1/2″ inch diameter.
It also produces early, maturing at about the 50 day mark.
The Wisconsin is a great choice for those wanting to make dill picklets.
3 Slicing Cucumber Varieties
The Straight Eight cucumber is a sweet, tender and delicious slicing cucumber.
The Straight Eight contains a small seed cavity, making it perfect for eating or for salads. And does it ever produce!
Fruits tend to be 6 to 8 inches long with a dark green skin. They mature around 55 to 60 days.
If you want a slicing and eating tomato that is a conversation starter, this is it!
The lemon cucumber produces mature yellow cukes. And adding to their oddity – they are round, not oblong!
They take on an almost lemon-like appearance.
This vining cucumber is sweet, tender and delicious. It makes a wonderful cucumber for salads, or to simply slice and eat.
It has a longer maturation period than most at 65 days.
The Diva hybrid cucumber is a big winner for taste – and a big producer!
The Diva Hybrid produces a high quantity of 6 to 8 inch long cucumbers. These dark-skinned cucumbers are meaty and tasty.
The Diva matures in just under 60 days, and has good resistance to many of the more common cucumber diseases.
On Growing Cucumbers…
To grow best, cucumbers should be located in a sunny area. They need rich, fertile and well-drained soil.
Adding generous amounts of compost when planting is a big key to helping your plants thrive.
Mulch plants early on to control fluctuations in the soil temperature.
A young cucumber plant begins to spread out
Plant seeds directly into the soil a few weeks before your last frost. If you live in an area with a short growing season, you can start cucumbers indoors a few weeks before planting.
Move outside and plant after the threat of frost has passed. For more on how to grow a great cucumber crop, see : 6 Great Tips For Growing Cucumbers
This Is My Garden
This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, publishing two articles every week, 52 weeks a year. This article may contain affiliate links.
7 Cucumber Varieties to Grow This Year
Cucumbers are a staple in my garden. There’s nothing better than munching on a fresh-picked, homegrown cucumber for a snack! Over the years we developed some favorites and some can’t be beat cucumber varieties that I think everyone will enjoy growing (and eating!)
Are you new to growing cucumbers? Read my Tips for Growing Great Cucumbers and my guide to the Best Cucumber Companion Plants to grow the best cucumber crop!
Most of these varieties can be eaten fresh or pickled.
7 Cucumber Varieties You Need in Your Garden!
The Marketmore Cucumber is an heirloom variety that is prolific and a must for every home gardener that loves to eat fresh cucumbers. These cucumbers are 8-9″ slicers that have amazing flavor. They were also top sellers at the market when we sold produce.
Plan your best garden ever with my Yearly Garden Planner. It has planning pages, records sheets and more to help you start seeds, keep track of pests and disease, and keep track of everything garden related.
Straight 8 Cucumber
The Straight 8 cucumber is similar to the Marketmore. With long, 8″ fruits that are great for slicing and fresh eating. This cucumber variety has some disease resistance. Make sure it gets regular water to prevent bitterness.
The Lemon Cucumber is one of my absolute favorites. This cucumber variety is round and yellow- just like a lemon! These fruits hardly ever get bitter and they have a nice fresh flavor. We eat t hem just like apples- bite right in!
The Aremenian Cucumber Variety is a must if you live in a hot climate. This cucumber is about 18 inches long and mild-tasting with less seeds than most classic slicing cucumbers. Great eaten fresh- and makes some amazing pickles! Grow it vertically for straighter fruits.
Related Reading: How to Grow Vertically in the Garden
Suyo Long Cucumber
We started growing the Suyo Long cucumber a few years back and it’s been a regular ever since. This cucumber is long and skinny- can get up to about 18 inches, but we usually pick a bit younger. It is sweet and mild, with hardly any seeds at all.
Dragon’s Egg Cucumber
The Dragon’s Egg Cucumber is another fun one to grow. The fruits are white and roundish- like a very large egg! They have thin skin- and even my kids who like their cucumbers peeled will eat this skin. They are a little more seedy than your standard cucumber, but great for fresh eating!
Related Reading: 13 Unique Vegetables to Grow This Year
Painted Serpent Melon Cucumber
The Painted Serpent Cucumber is one of our favorite unique vegetables to grow. We started growing them for fun- and to enter into the local fair- but we keep growing them because they just taste amazing! This cucumber variety can get long- over 3 feet if you let it. I suggest picking it smaller- around 18 inches for fresh eating. The larger it gets the more melon-like it gets. But just scoop the seeds out and still eat it like a melon! The kids will love growing these too.
As with all long varieties, growing vertically will help you get longer, straighter fruits.
Those are my 7 favorite cucumber varieties. We’ve also tried some we didn’t like- the crystal apple cucumber, for one. Do you have any to add to this list?
You May Also Like:
10 Ways to Preserve Cucumbers
12 Benefits of Cucumber Water
How to Store Cucumbers (and Ways to Use Them Fresh!)
There are different types of cucumber such as Persian, Lemon, Kirby, Japanese, English and Armenian. Nowadays Persian cucumbers are being cultivated all over the world. Persian cucumbers’ shape is cylindrical and squat and its skin is thin and easy to…
What are the (health benefits) of Persian cucumbers?
Persian Cucumbers are known to cool the body and are considered to be packed with health benefits. Below some of these benefits are explained:
- ● Hydration: The body can’t function properly without water. Water is involved in processes like temperature regulation and the transportation of waste products and nutrients so it’s important to keep yourself hydrated. Persian Cucumbers are about 95 percent water. A study showed that reaching for a cucumber after finishing an intense workout may hydrate your body twice as effectively as a glass of water.
- ● Better skin and Hair: Persian Cucumbers are great source of different nutrients like water, potassium, sulfate and vitamins A and C and natural anti-inflammatories that soothe and calm skin conditions like sunburns. If you put cucumbers on the eyes, they can help decrease morning puffiness. The high water content helps to hydrate tender skin in the eye region. Their cold minimizes the swelling by constricting the blood and lymph vessels that bring fluid to the eye area. Cucumbers are packed with silica. The silicon and sulfur in cucumbers help to stimulate hair growth.
- ● Weight Loss: Cucumber is a low-calorie and fat-free fruit. This means you can eat plenty of cucumbers without fear of weight gain. Persian Cucumbers have negligible amount of sugar that will help you lose weight effectively. The soluble fiber in cucumbers dissolves into a gel-like texture in your gut and helps your digestion to slow down which also helps you to feel full longer.
- ● Cancer Prevention: Recent studies concluded that cucumbers contain powerful lignans (pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol), that contribute to reducing risk of several cancers, including breast, uterus, ovarian, and prostate cancers. The decreased risk of estrogen-related cancers such as cancers of the breast, ovary, uterus, and prostate, has been associated with intake of dietary lignans from a variety of different plant foods, including cucumber. A Greek study also found that women with breast cancer consumed significantly fewer cucumbers than those without breast cancer. A Swiss study found that consumption of Persian cucumbers, among other fruits and vegetables, was associated with significant protection against breast cancer.
- ● Heart Health: Cucumbers contain dozens of antioxidants, including flavonoids, which are known to protect against heart disease. Cucumbers also contain lignin, which is referred to as an anti-inflammatory element that helps boost your immunity and reduces the occurrence of all the risks associated with cardiovascular disease. The most amount of damage that is caused by a heart attack is a result of the free radicals that are created and the caffeic acid in Persian cucumbers helps removing them.
- ● Reduce Blood Sugar: Cucumbers consist of certain substances that help the pancreas to produce more insulin in the body. This stimulation decreases the diabetic’s sugar production.
- ● Healthy Kidney: Cucumbers are famous as the best kidney cleanser known to date. This is because they help to wash the kidneys and bladder of debris and stones. Studies have shown that eating Persian cucumbers regularly helps to regulate uric acid in the body, thereby preventing certain kidney and bladder stones.
- ● Bone and Joint Health: Persian Cucumber is a good source of vitamin K which is essential for bone health, as low vitamin K intakes have been associated with a higher risk for bone fracture. Vitamin K is also important for improving calcium absorption in the bones. Cucumber is an excellent source of silica, which is known to help promoting joint health by strengthening the connective tissues. They are also rich in vitamin A, B1, B6, C & D, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium.
- Blood Clotting: Cucumber is also good for blood clotting. Cucumber contains a lot of vitamin K, which helps blood to clot quickly.
- Digestion and Constipation: Persian Cucumbers help relieve constipation because they provide both fiber and water. Cucumbers contain fiber, which helps regulate bowel movements. In particular, pectin, the type of soluble fiber found in cucumbers, can help increase bowel movement frequency. The high water content and dietary fiber in cucumbers are very effective in ridding the body of toxins from the digestive system, aiding digestion. Cucumbers are rich in fiber besides nutrients and minerals like calcium, folate, fat, C vitamins and erepsin, a protein which is very effective in ensuring proper digestion.
- ● Brain Health: Persian Cucumbers contain an anti-inflammatory flavonol called fisetin. Fisetin improves your memory and protects your nerve cells from age-related decline. Cucumber contains trace mineral called molybdenum. Molybdenum is especially important in the enzyme functions of the brain and even the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
- ● Bad Breath: Bad breath is usually caused by bacteria in the mouth. The fluid in cucumbers, as well as the saliva production triggered by chewing, helps to cleanse the mouth and wash away these smelly culprits.
- ● Reduce Stress: Cucumbers contain multiple B vitamins, including vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin B7 (biotin). B vitamins are known to help ease feelings of anxiety and buffer some of the damaging effects of stress.
- ● Pain Relief: Persian Cucumbers are rich with anti-inflammatory compounds, such as flavonoids which are powerful pain-reducing substances. These compounds restrict the proliferation of free radicals in the body and that leads to less pain. Persian Cucumbers are specifically known for reducing toothache; a chilled cucumber or slice of fresh cucumber can be held against the tooth that hurts which would relief the pain. Put it in your mouth directly on the infected tooth. The coolness from the cucumber will soothe the ache and take away the pain.
- ● Liver Health: Cucumbers are rich in B vitamins, vitamin C and trace minerals so they are the best liver benefiting foods. When eaten on a daily basis, Persian cucumbers can reverse liver damage, dialing back 10 to 15 years of toxin exposure.
Persian Cucumber, American Cucumber & English Cucumber
Persian and English cucumbers are both thin-skinned so they can be served unpeeled, and both are nearly seedless. English cucumbers tend to be about a foot long, while Persian cucumbers are only about 4 to 6 inches. American cucumbers tend to have tough seeds, thick bumpy skins and a bit of bitter taste.
Have you seen Japanese cucumbers? Known as Kyuri in Japanese, these cucumbers have beautiful forest green skin with long and slender bodies. The length is about the size between English cucumber and Persian cucumber. Japanese cucumbers do not contain any developed seeds and they are never bitter, which is why they are a preferred choice in Japan. They have a bright, sweet with melon-like flavors, and the texture is crisp, crunchy, succulent and tender-firm.
Japanese Cucumbers in Japanese Cuisine
Japanese Cucumbers are a beloved ingredient in everyday Japanese cuisine. We enjoy them fresh in salads, sushi, sashimi or in bento; we also pickle the cucumbers as Tsukemono (漬物) to serve with rice and enjoy as a garnish or palate cleanser. One of the popular pickled methods is Shiozuke 塩漬, which uses salt and other ingredients aside from vinegar. Because of their cooling properties and versatility, Japanese cucumbers are included almost in every meal. That explains why farmers or growers in Japan go in great length to produce the best uniform cucumbers for the consumers. With the utilization of greenhouse, they are available year-round for enjoyment.
Thanks to its wonderfully crisp texture and mild flavor, you can definitely use Japanese cucumbers in any recipes that call for regular cucumbers.
Where to Find Japanese Cucumbers
In the US, you will be able to find Japanese cucumbers at Japanese or Asian grocery stores. If you’re lucky, you may be able to find Japanese cucumbers in your local farmers market. Since they are relatively easy to grow, some of the farmers might be willing to grow them for you if you put in the suggestion. Otherwise, you can also try growing them in your own backyard.
Substitutions for Japanese Cucumbers
If you couldn’t find Japanese cucumbers for Japanese recipes, I recommend using cucumbers with fewer seeds and firmer texture. My first choice would be Persian cucumber, then English cucumber. If you use English and American cucumber, you will need to remove the seeds with a spoon.
Delicious Recipes Using Japanese Cucumbers
to see recipes that I use with Japanese cucumbers.
Cucumber and Chicken Marinated in Chili Oil
Japanese Cucumber Salad with Wakame and Crabsticks
Spiralized Cucumber Salad
Japanese Potato Salad
Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients | Vegetable
The cucumber, also known as the cuke, is a green vegetable related to the squash and melon. Cucumbers are popular in salads and as pickles.
- Persian cucumbers or baby cucumbers are also known as regular cucumbers with soft, edible seeds. The skin is often waxed to seal in moisture.
- English cucumbers are sometimes known as gourmet cucumbers, burpless cucumbers, or seedless cucumbers. This variety has seeds that are very small but do not need to be removed. Longer and thinner than regular cucumbers, this variety is usually shrink-wrapped to seal in moisture because they are not waxed.
- Pickling cucumbers are stubby and warty.
- Lemon cucumbers are yellow and oval, like lemons.
Selection and Storage
It’s important to look for firm cucumbers with rich green color (except lemon cucumbers!) and no soft spots. Cucumbers that bulge in the middle tend to be filled with large watery seeds and tasteless flesh.
Whole cucumbers should be refrigerated in a crisper for up to a week. Unwaxed cucumbers will easily lose moisture, so keep them wrapped tightly in plastic.
- Persian cucumbers are usually eaten raw. The peel is thin and does not need to be removed. These are generally eaten whole, as a healthful snack, or sliced or chopped into a salad with other raw ingredients.
- Pickling cucumbers generally have a thick, dark, waxed skin, which often it tough and has a bitter taste (depending upon growing conditions) when raw.
- For eating raw: This is usually sliced into circles or half-moon shapes. Some people split the cucumber open and remove and discard the seeds. When the skin is bitter, most people peel the skin before slicing and eating. The skin may also be partially removed for decorative purposes, by scraping lines down the length of the cucumber with a fork or using a thin, sharp knife to remove thin stripes of the skin.
- For pickling: Pickling cucumbers are generally cooked with the skin and seeds intact. The cucumber may be sliced or cut into wedges before pickling and canning.
- For cooking: Cucumbers can be roasted or featured in cucumber soup.
- English cucumbers are popular for making cucumber sandwiches and for making juice. Very thin slices of this cucumber may be quickly and easily produced by running a vegetable peeler to shave off slices.
I used to see only one kind of cucumber in the supermarket. Now I see Kirby, seedless, hothouse, and what I call regular. What’s the difference?
The cucumber you refer to as “regular” is the most common field-grown variety. Known as a slicing cucumber, it ranges in size from 6 to 9 inches, and its dark-green skin is usually waxed to prevent moisture loss. The English cucumber, which may be called seedless, European, burpless, or hothouse (which is where it is commercially grown), grows to between 1 and 2 feet in length. Slimmer and smooth-skinned, it is wrapped in plastic and can cost as much as $2 per cucumber.
The pickling cucumber is small and thick with bumpy, light-green, unwaxed skin. The most popular variety, the Kirby, is used commercially for pickling; it is also enjoyed fresh because of its thin skin, crisp flesh, and small seeds. Less common varieties are the Armenian, Sfran (from the Persian Gulf), and Japanese.
No matter the kind, look for firm, unblemished cucumbers. Avoid ones with soft spots, especially at the ends, and yellow streaks, which indicate they are past their peak. Store unwashed cucumbers, in plastic bags, in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- General & History
- Using Cucumbers – flavor & Texture
- Health & Nutrition
General & History
Cucumbers are probably native to northern India and were cultivated there and in Western Asia well over 3000 years ago. They were much favored by the Romans who spread them to other parts of Europe. They didn’t get to England until about the 14th century, and have to be grown in hothouses there. Cucumbers arrived in the Americas in the early 16th century. When they arrived in China and Japan is uncertain but is thought to be somewhat later than their arrival in Rome.
The durable “green blimp” cucumbers we are accustomed to in the U.S. are a relatively recent development. In earlier times cucumbers were similar to the Persian and often thinner and longer.
Besides the fruits, which botanists call a “modified berry”, young shoots and leaves of the vine can be cooked and eaten as greens.
There are two locations of flavor in cucumbers, the skin and the seed mass. Sample an over-ripe cucumber and you’ll find the slightly yellow seed mass to have a stronger and quite distinctly cucumber flavor. Personally I don’t mind that flavor, in moderation, but some people don’t like it.
You’ll find many sources telling you English cucumbers have more flavor than the standard garden cucumber. Peel them both and you’ll find the garden cuke more flavorful, it’s just that the English doesn’t have to be peeled and the thick bitter skin of the garden variety does.
A better compromise is to use Persian or Japanese cucumbers which have thin non-bitter skin but enough seed mass to be more flavorful than the English. Unfortunately they don’t keep and have to be used within a few days. Kerbys are midway between in seediness, bitterness, and toughness of skin, and also are not waxed.
for best flavor the seed mass should be included in recipes if possible. This is not possible in cases where the liquid will bleed out and dilute the recipe – then the seeds must be scooped out. When I do this I scrape the seeds into a bowl, add some salt and eat the seed mass as a snack while I cook.
Recipes that call for seeding cukes usually presume the big “green blimps” but if you use Persians or Japanese cucumbers you probably won’t have to seed them (or peel them) and flavor will be better.
In salads, once the dressing is applied, Cucumbers will start to bleed water due to salt in the dressing. If you need your salad to be durable, as for long buffet service or making ahead, slice the cukes for the recipe, then put them in a bowl, sprinkle well with salt and let sit for at least 20 minutes – longer is better. Then rinse them and drain them. You may need to cut down the amount of salt in the recipe, as the cucumbers will retain some salt.
Cucumber – (standard issue)
These cucumbers are grown on fully functional vines with both male and female flowers, so they have a large seed mass and plenty of seeds. Consequently they have more real cucumber flavor than seedless varieties, provided you use the seed mass.
The skin is fairly tough and bitter so they are almost always peeled. Since they’ll be peeled anyway growers seal them with a heavy coating of wax for longer storage – they’ll last at least two weeks in the fridge. You do want to peel them because you don’t know who sponsored the FDA studies certifying that wax as “edible”.
Size varies widely but the photo specimen is 9-1/4 inches long, 2-3/8 inches diameter and weighed 1-1/4 pounds. A more typical supermarket size would likely be 12 ounces to a pound but 2 pounders are often available at produce markets. The cut one was picked quite young so the seeds are immature and the seed mass is relatively small. When cucumbers become over-ripe they start to yellow, the seeds start to harden and the seed mass gets a stronger flavor.
Not a cucumber, it’s a Melon. See our Armenian Cucumber page.
Though it looks sort of like an overgrown European cucumber with tiny white spine spots all over it, the Beijing is not “seedless”. It can, in fact have a higher proportion of seed mass than a garden cucumber does, improving the flavor over seedless varieties.
The skin is very thin and they are not waxed so you don’t have to peel them, but it means they will spoil quickly so use them right away. The larger photo specimen was 19 inches long, 2 inches diameter and weighed 1 pound 6 ounces. So far these are available in only a few of the East / Southeast Asian markets in Los Angeles and prices are still a quite high – about 2016 US $1.19 / pound, while Persians can be had here for 69 cents / pound, and gardens for less than 25 cents / pound in season.
These cucumbers get their name from being about the size and shape of a lemon, and bright yellow varieties are popular in India. The photo specimens are green with whole or broken stripes, the variety grown in Southern California. They are seldom available even in Indian markets and are sold at a high price so they’re more a curiosity than practical ingredient right now.
These cucumbers are sweeter than other varieties and do not need to be peeled. They go well in salads but in India they are most often cooked as an ingredient in recipes or made into pickles and chutneys.
This is a variety of the European Cucumber selected for large size and straightness. This makes them more economical to shrink wrap in plastic to extend their shelf life. The photo specimen was fairly typical at 14-1/2 inches long, 1-3/4 inches diameter at the thickest point and weighed 14 ounces. See European Cucumber for all further details.
These cucumbers are grown on vines that produce only female flowers. Since the flowers have no way to get knocked up they produce seedless fruit. Seeds to grow them are expensive because to produce them, rare vines that have one or more male flowers must be found.
Growing the vines take special care so bees and other pollinating insects cannot access the flowers, or hybrid seeds will develop. Larger straighter varieties are shrink wrapped in plastic for longer shelf life so they can be shipped to distant markets and are called English Cucumbers.
The larger of the photo specimens was 13 inches long (uncurled) 1-3/4 inches diameter at the thickest point and weighed 10 ounces. Typical shrink wrapped specimens are a little bigger but generally weigh less than a pound. Details and Cooking.
Gherkin – True
True Gherkins are a small non-sativa cucumber native to southern Africa from Zaire south to Botswana and naturalized in Madagascar, but are best known for cultivation in the Caribbean region. The non-bitter less spiky varieties developed in the Caribbean have been reintroduced to Africa and are now cultivated there. In Africa, leaves of the bitter varieties are used as greens, and some of the non-bitter varieties are pickled. In the U.S. this plant is grown in gardens for private use in Florida. Details and Cooking. Photo © source and licensing lost.
Gherkin – Cucumber
Any tiny immature cucumber used for pickling, generally less than three inches long. Since few people have ever seen a real gherkin this naming has been a successful subterfuge.
India has become a major grower and pickler of these cucumbers taking advantage of low labor rates, but this industry is ecologically questionable and there have been contract abuses as well. The photo specimens are from Bulgaria with the largest measuring 2-7/8 inch long, 7/8 inch diameter and weighing 5/8 ounce. Details and Cooking.
Gherkin – Indian
It’s a gourd – see our Tindora page.
– see European / English Cucumbers. In most regions it means specifically the “English” packaging of the European cucumber.
Not seedless but with much fewer seeds than garden cucumbers, and they are harvested when the seeds are very immature so are not noticeable. Japanese cucumbers are sold unwaxed. They are several varieties, but they generally have bumpy dark green skins, which may have white spine dots. They are similar to the Persian cucumber but much larger and most varieties are sturdy enough to be grown in open fields in California. There are varieties ranging up to three feet long and 2 inches in diameter but the most popular are 8 to 12 inches long and very straight.
Millions are grown in Southern California but they are rarely seen in markets, because our thousands of sushi bars (most of which, to the distress of the Japanese, are run by Koreans now) consume the crop. The photo specimens, purchased from a Korean market in Los Angeles (La Cañada Flintridge) were up to 14 inches long, 1-3/4 inches diameter and weighed 1 pound 2-5/8 ounces.
You can’t pickle a waxed cucumber so these are never waxed. That means you can eat them skins-on but also they will spoil quickly – even in the fridge they’ll start getting slimy in just a few days. Peeled they have a little less flavor than the Green Blimps because the seed mass is so immature – they’re often picked so young they look almost “seedless”.
These vary greatly in size depending on how young they’re picked. The largest of the photo specimens was 5-1/4 inches long, 2 inches diameter, and weighed 7-3/8 ounces. The smallest was 3-1/2 inches long, 1-3/8 inch diameter at the big end and weighed 1-3/4 ounces.
The skin is a bit tougher than that of the seedless varieties (though not bitter) so for some uses you may wish to peel them, or they may be partially peeled to decorative effect. They do well in salads and for cooking.as well as for pickling.
– See Beijing Cucumber.
A mostly seedless cucumber normally sold unwaxed, so you can eat them skin-on. There are several cultivars, so they may vary somewhat in size and shape, but they all taste the same. Persians tend to have a few seeds, but they are picked so young they are no bother. These are wildly popular here in Los Angeles, every produce market having a mountain of them. The photo specimens averaged 7 inches long, 1.5 inches diameter, weighing 5-3/4 oz. This is larger than average. Vegetable crops in California keep getting bigger for ease of harvesting – but now there is a “Mini” version too – see Details and Cooking.
While many vegetables are pickled, the cucumber so dominates the form it’s the one you can call just “pickle” without a modifier. The cucumbers used are Kirby type or similar in the U.S. but other varieties may be used elsewhere.
“Quick pickles” are made with cucumbers, a vinegar brine and spices. Natural pickles are made by packing cucumbers with water and salt to naturally ferment and make their own sourness. They are then cleaned up and processed with spices and other ingredients depending on what style pickle you’re making.
Wild Cucumber – California
These perennial cucumbers are quite different from Cucumis cucumbers in the way the fruit functions. Rather than fleshy, the fruit is spiny and dry. When ripe it dries completely and splits at the end to spill the large seeds out. The fruit is not eaten and some say the unripe seeds may be “mind altering” but I haven’t tried to find out. California Manroot is found over most of the state while Cucamonga Manroot is found over most or Southern California down to Baja.
All parts of the plant are bitter but the leaves have reportedly been used as a vegetable. The root tubers can weigh well over 200 pounds and were crushed by Native Americans for a toxin to stun fish with, so you probably don’t want to try eating those. A soap-like substance has been extracted from the roots.
I have lots of these on my property in La Crescenta, CA, but growth and fruiting are very dependent on early spring rainfall. The photo, showing foliage, an unripe fruit, a just opened fruit with seeds, and a drying empty pod was taken during 2008, a very good year for these. This year, 2014, there was very little foliage and no fruit.
Wild Cucumber – Other
“Wild Cucumber” is a name used commercially for the Armenian Cucumber, which is actually a melon. There is also an African Wild Cucumber (Cucumis africanus) which looks a lot like the California item but they’re not closely related, and the African one is edible. Fruit and leaves are eaten in Africa but only fruit in Madagascar.
Health & Nutrition
Cucumbers are largely water and eaten at an early stage where their seeds are immature and haven’t developed much protein. They aren’t nutrition powerhouses but they do have a broad range of vitamins and minerals in significant amounts, and they are very low in calories and fat.
Way back in the early ’70s I used to get a nutritional publication from one of Ralph Nader’s organizations. Ralph was saying pickles should be taken off the market because of their cost / nutritional content ratio was so low. The vitamin C content is degraded by pickling but some other nutrients may become more available – but I really don’t think people are eating pickles for their nutritional value, Ralph. They eat them for taste. Of course Ralph was also saying Yogurt should be taken off the market because it was too much to pay for a glass of milk.