These gourd relatives are crisp, cool, and juicy, but get only so-so marks for flavor and nutritional content. Store them unwashed in the refrigerator crisper, where the higher humidity will help keep them crisp. Use them within a week or so of purchase. Don't freeze them--they get mushy if they're too cold. Many cooks remove the tips, peels and seeds, which are tough and bitter in some varieties. To seed a cucumber, cut it lengthwise and scrape the seeds out with a spoon or knife.
This foot-long slicing cucumber is pricier and less flavorful than other varieties, but it has less conspicuous seeds, a thinner skin, and a plastic wrapper--instead of a wax coating--to improve shelf life. All of this saves preparation time, since there's no need to peel or seed the cucumber before slicing it. This is a good variety if you focused on looks--you can cut it into round, green trimmed slices.Learn more
You can find these throughout the year at all but the most poorly stocked markets. The ones you find in supermarkets are usually waxed to hold in moisture and improve shelf-life--these should be peeled or at least scrubbed well before serving. Unwaxed cucumbers don't need to be peeled, but better cooks often do so since the peels tend to be thick and bitter. It's also a good idea to remove the seeds from these kinds of cucumbers; just cut them in half lengthwise and scrape them out. Select cukes that are firm, dark green, and rounded at the tips.Learn more
These small, bumpy greed cucumbers are used to make Gherkin pickles or, if pickled while still small, cornichon pickles.Learn more
These are just like English cucumbers, only with bumps. Like English cucumbers, they don't have to be peeled or seeded.Learn more
This short, versatile cucumber is used for both slicing and pickling. It's small, with bumpy yellow or green skin. Like the English cucumber, it has a thin skin and inconspicuous seeds.Learn more
This melon has a gorgeous orange rind with spikes--poke a stick in it and you'd have a medieval mace for a Halloween costume. The yellow-green flesh has the consistency of jello, and tastes a bit like cucumbers.Learn more
This versatile cucumber is sweet and flavorful, and doesn't have much of the chemical that makes other cucumbers bitter and hard to digest. Though it's often served raw, it's also a good pickling cucumber.Learn more