By Adam Calder, Produce Manager
The variety and quality of produce at farmers markets is ample and excellent. Gardens across the land are bursting with vegetables which were at first eagerly anticipated but perhaps more recently foisted on friends and family by the bucketful. Amidst all this produce, it is easy to overlook one of the humble stars of the summer months: the cucumber.
There are hundreds of cucumber varieties on the market, though they can be broken down into a few broader categories to make it easier to find the cucumber that best suits your particular needs.
Cornichon (also known as Gherkin): These small cucumbers are usually harvested when they are between one to four inches in length. They are often pickled in a vinegar brine or lacto-fermented and commonly served in relish trays, with pâtés or cold-cuts.
Any cucumber can be pickled, although certain varieties have been bred for characteristics that are desirable when processing cucumbers such as void-less flesh and uniformity in size and length. Pickling cucumbers are usually harvested when they are four inches long and one inch wide.
Seedless (also known as Burpless):
A production method similar to the one used to make seedless watermelon is used to make cucumbers that produce fruit without fertilized seeds. They tend to have thin skins so they dry out quickly after harvest. These cucumbers are commonly sold shrink-wrapped in plastic to extend their shelf life. English, Asian, Persian and Indian cucumber cultivars are some of the more commonly available seedless varieties. The fruit from some of these varieties can reach lengths of two feet.
The most commonly grown and consumed style of cucumber. These are grown with the intent they be eaten fresh and in their unripe green stage. When the fruits are left to mature fully, they become yellow with a sour flavor and tough seeds and skin. For markets in North America, these cucumbers are usually picked when they are five to twelve inches in length and two to three inches in diameter.
Easy Cucumber Salad
There are few pleasures in life as simple as a summer salad made with little more than fresh cucumbers, onions, sugar and vinegar. In fact, here is one such recipe that is sure to please all who make and eat it.
Just mix, chill for a couple of hours and enjoy. Add fresh dill as a garnish.
1 lb cucumbers, sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced thin
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp salt