There are several different types of cucumbers. Each with its unique flavor, texture, and culinary use. They’re a versatile type of produce and are often used to add a refreshing crunch to salads, as a crisp garnish to stir-fries and other noodles dishes, and are blended into chilled soups and smoothies. Not to mention, cucumbers make excellent pickles. But did you know there are certain varieties that each serve as a better option, depending on the dish you’re creating?
These fruits (because they contain seeds) are prepared, cooked, and treated in the same manner as many vegetables. Cucumbers are versatile players in sweet-savory recipes, are often used raw, and contain over 95% water. They have the unique characteristic of being both wet and crunch. Here, we discuss the various types of cucumbers and the best culinary uses for these refreshing summer fruits.
Different Cucumber Varieties
English cucumbers are longer and thinner than other varieties. They have a mid-flavor and delicate skin that can be eaten. These cucumbers are the best for slicing and adding to salads or stacking on sandwiches. Their mild flavor also makes them an excellent choice for pickling. They are also known as hothouse or seedless cucumbers.
Smaller and sweeter than their counterparts. The thin skin and the fact that they often have fewer seeds than others make them ideal for snacking, slicing, and pickling. These cucumbers are often the top choice for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.
Kirbys are small, firm, and have a slightly sour profile. They are perfect for making pickles but can also be used in salads, sandwiches, and other dishes requiring a slightly crisper texture. They are also known as the pickling cucumber.
These round, yellow cucumbers have a slightly sweet and citrus-forward flavor—best used raw in salads or as a bright garnish. The delicate flavor is best preserved by eating them fresh. While they can be used for pickling, other varieties are advised.
The name says it all. These are the most common cucumber type found in traditional grocery stores. They generally run more prominent than other varieties. The flavor is slightly bitter, and the skin is tougher, but these cucumbers can be used in several ways, from slicing (shocker!) to blending them in a gazpacho. These cucumbers are often sliced on a mandolin to make cucumber salad.
They are also known as Kyuri. Japanese cucumbers are long, slender, and have thin, dark green skin. They have a crisp, refreshing flavor often used in sushi and Japanese dishes. They’re also commonly used in salads and as a garnish.
Culinary Uses of Cucumbers
The culinary uses of cucumbers can be broken down into three ways: fresh sliced, fresh whole, and pickled. Regardless of variety, fresh whole cucumbers are grown for consumer retail sales. On the other hand, freshly sliced cucumbers are typically garden varieties. They are grown for the food service sector, which requires uniform-sized slices for packaged salads and restaurant chain salad bars.
Pickling cucumbers tend to be smaller and thicker. However, not all pickled forms of cucumbers are fermented — made by combining cucumbers with water, salt, and bacteria with the right amount of time. This converts various substances in the cucumber into different bioactive compounds. This technique is known for having great health benefits. The unfermented pickled cucumbers are made by submerging cucumbers in a very acidic liquid (usually vinegar). Here are a few culinary uses for the variety of cucumbers above.
The trick to a good cucumber salad is utilizing fresh cucumbers. Chefs can explore a variety of cucumber salad recipes. There’s Greek cucumber salad, cucumber and dill, vinegar, and mayonnaise-based options. Slice thin, add salt, and let the cucumbers rest (or press them) to release some water before prepping a cucumber salad. Cucumbers can also be sliced or diced raw to add a refreshing crunch to a number of leafy greens.
Sandwiches & Wraps
Cucumbers can enhance the texture and flavor of sandwiches. From a classic cucumber and cream cheese tea sandwich to a more modern take on wraps and rolls of all sorts. The snappy crunch is a burst of texture with each bite.
Pickled cucumbers, or what is referred to as just pickles, are easy to make and can often be enjoyed the next day through a quick pickling process. You may know them by refrigerator pickles. They are basically pickled vegetables stored in the fridge in a brine of salt, vinegar, and water (sometimes sugar). The process takes a few minutes, and once refrigerated, you can enjoy the tangy cukes the next day.
Juicing & Infused Waters
Cucumber water is a very hydrating drink. It has many potential health benefits, including weight loss, lowering blood pressure, helping bone health, and improving skin health. It is simple to make, and people can enjoy it anytime. Cucumbers can be added to water, implemented into a refreshing cucumber lemonade, or juiced into cucumber-mint juice.
Often not thought of in the realm of desserts, cucumbers can add a crisp and refreshing kick to many savory and sweet recipes. Think cucumber sorbet, cucumber-lime popsicles, and lemon and cucumber cake.
Soups & Cold Gazpacho
Blending cucumbers is a great way to enjoy the health benefits and a unique texture. They can be added to elements of soups and served as a cold gazpacho. The perfect chill recipe for the heat of summer.
Cucumbers are high in beneficial nutrients. They also are fun to eat. So eat them raw! Snacking on cucumbers provides certain plant compounds and antioxidants that may help treat and prevent some conditions. Also, they’re low in calories and contain good water and soluble fiber. Making them ideal for promoting hydration.
Finding a restaurant produce deliverer like Fadaro Foods, which sells fresh vegetables and fresh fruit daily, is crucial for restaurants. Fadaro Foods is a restaurant wholesale food supplier that delivers throughout New York City’s five boroughs. It offers quality wholesale food ingredients at prices that ensure quantity and profit for restaurants they work with.
When choosing wholesale food goods for your restaurant, especially when there’s a variety, like with the cucumbers, it’s important to choose a food supplier that can aid in additional knowledge on the ingredients they’re selling. At Fadaro, we encourage chefs to experiment with different varieties and find the ingredients that best suit their culinary style and the dishes they create. View our full catalog of wholesale food products and schedule your delivery today.