From long and green to round and yellow, there are more than 100 varieties of cucumbers to choose from. A member of the melon family, cucumbers are technically a fruit but pass as a vegetable, just because we want them to. They're a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. You'll find them from May to August at farmers markets and all year long at the supermarket.
Cucumbers have been around so long that it's difficult to pinpoint exactly where they originated, but the best guess is India. They're mentioned in the Bible, and the Romans grew them year-round in hothouses. They were introduced to England in the 1500s and were brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus. California and Florida produce the most U.S. cucumbers, but China is the champion cucumber grower — they produce around two-thirds of the world's supply.
What to buy
Cucumbers should be dark green and firm, without any soft spots or wrinkling. You want them to have a nice snap when you bite into a slice. Store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
How to prepare
To peel or not to peel? Some varieties, like the imported English cucumber and farmers market favorite, the lemon cucumber, have thin skins and don't need to be peeled. They also have fewer seeds. The basic variety found in the supermarket has thicker skin and may have been waxed to make it more visually appealing to consumers, so you might want to get out the vegetable peeler. Cucumbers can be pickled, sliced and thrown in salads, and even shaved into noodles and briefly cooked for cucumber "pasta."
Cocktail Recipe: The Naruna
Pasture's head bartender, Beth Dixon, shares her recipe for a cool cocktail to get you through the hot evenings ahead.
- 1 1/4 ounce of gold tequila
- 3/4 ounce of Dolin Blanc
- 3/4 ounce of Campari
- 3-4 slices cucumber
- Soda water
Add the cucumber slices and the Dolin Blanc to a cocktail shaker. Muddle the cucumber and then add ice, the tequila and Campari. Top with a splash of soda and give it a shake to mix it up. Pour it into a glass and garnish the drink with mint and a slice of cucumber.