Cucumbers — From Kirby to Persian

  • 01 of 08

    A Brief Guide to Types of Cucumbers

    Many Cucumbers
    Assorted Cucumbers. Maximilian Stock Ltd./Getty Images

    Once available only at the best-stocked farmers markets, different types of cucumbers are showing up at co-ops and grocery stores (not to mention garden patches). Here's a guide to some cucumber varieties—Armenian, English, lemon, Persian—you may encounter, plus a few ideas on how to use them.

    You may also want to check out All About Cucumbers for more about buying, storing, and using these cooling summer vegetables.

    Already have cucumbers on hand and wondering how to use them? These Crisp...MORE Cucumber Salads are quick ways to enjoy cucumbers of all sorts.

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  • 02 of 08

    Armenian Cucumbers

    Armenian Cucumber Growing on the Vine
    Armenian Cucumber. Barbara Rich/Getty Images

    Armenian cucumbers are long, thin, and slightly variegated in darker and lighter shades of light green or a yellowish-green. They are delightfully crunchy and are delicious simply sliced and eaten raw. They have very soft seeds and a thin skin, requiring neither seeding nor peeling for eating. They are not good for pickling (their softer texture means they turn to mush).

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  • 03 of 08

    English Cucumbers / Seedless Cucumbers

    Seedless Cucumbers
    English Cucumbers. Maximilian Stock Ltd./Getty Images

    English cucumbers (aka hot house cucumbers) are long, thin, with a dark green skin. They are often sold wrapped in plastic at supermarkets, but you can find unwrapped ones at farmers markets (despite their alias, these cucumbers do not require a hot house or plastic wrap to grow). This cucumber has a mild, almost non-existent flavor, and is prized for its thin skin and minimal seeds. Like Armenian cucumbers, English cucumbers are best sliced and raw and are not suitable for pickling. They do,...MORE however, work wonders in cocktails—try adding a slice or two to a glass of sake when it's hot out or whip up a Cucumber Martini.

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  • 04 of 08

    Garden Cucumbers

    Garden cucumbers
    Damian Davies/Getty Images

    These are the most common cucumbers in North America. They are relatively smooth skinned and dark green. Cucumbers sold at grocery stores tend to be waxed to help them retain moisture, which is part of why you'll often want to peel these cucumbers. Un-waxed varieties can be found (particularly at farmers markets), but you may still want to peel them if the skin is thick or bitter.

    The big seeds in these classic garden cucumbers are why so many recipes call for seeding (or, rather, de-seeding)...MORE cucumbers before using them.

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  • 05 of 08


    Pickled Gherkins
    Kajakiki/Getty Images

    Gherkins are small. Very small. Sometimes not even two inches long. They are most often pickled. They are popular in France, where pickled gherkins, known as cornichons, are a classic accompaniment to pâté.

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  • 06 of 08

    Kirby Cucumbers

    Kirby cucumbers
    Eddy Zecchinon / EyeEm/ Getty Images

    Kirby cucumbers are usually short and always bumpy. They have a range of skin color from yellow to dark green. Kirbys are wonderfully crunchy for eating raw, but flavorful enough to be perfect for pickling too. Kirbys are sometimes even sold under the name "pickling cucumbers."

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  • 07 of 08

    Lemon Cucumbers

    Fresh Lemon Cucumber
    Lemon Cucumber. Donald Erickson/Getty Images

    Yellow, round, the size of a generous fist. Yep, these cucumbers look like lemons (seriously, that is a picture of a lemon cucumber, lemon cucumber, not a lemon). They are sweet, without that bitter edge that most cucumbers have, thin skins, minimal soft seeds, and flavorful. They are tasty raw and look positively lovely in salads, but they make delicious pickles too.

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  • 08 of 08

    Persian Cucumbers

    Two Long Cucumbers
    Persian Cucumbers. Bill Boch/Getty Images

    Persian cucumbers are very similar to English cucumbers. So similar, in fact, that they are pretty much visually indistinguishable from fresh, not-wrapped-in-plastic English cukes, except that they come in a greater range of lengths—some shorter, some longer, and sometimes have slightly bumpy skin like a Kirby.

    Persian cukes have a mild flavor and thin skins, which makes them great for salads, or use slices of them to scoop up dip. They're also crunchy and firm enough to stand up to a bit of...MORE cooking—try throwing them in a stir-fry!