Posted by: A Part of the Solution | August 24, 2010

The Cucumber Tasting

Cucumbers are members of the Cucurbita family. Other members of this plant order include melons and squashes–winter and summer (as in pumpkins and zucchini). Cucumbers are mostly water, like 90% water. They have a good fiber content, as well as reasonable quantities of vitamin C and silica–which are amongst the reasons why they’re so good for the skin topically. But I didn’t come here to write about reducing bags under the eyes using cucumbers. I’m here to talk about cucumbers and how they taste.

Many people don’t think of cucumbers as having much taste at all. Some people find them bitter, or perfumey. The cucumbers grown on my farm haven’t been coming out bitter to my palate–but I may be lacking the necessary genetic material to perceive that character in them. In fact, we have four different cucumbers growing in the garden this year. And yesterday, I conducted a tasting of them with a guest, who was up for the day puttering in the garden and borders.

First up was the lemon cucumber. It is known in India–its place of origin–as the Dosakai, where it is made into raita and chutney and other fine dishes. It’s skin is thin, and white turning to yellow at both ends. It’s fat and round, very like a largish lemon. Inside, it has a shell of flesh about a quarter-inch thick surrounding its seeds and their jelly. The flesh of the lemon cucumber is extremely crunchy when fresh, and grainy like a pear; our knowledgeable neighbor, tells us it doesn’t ‘put up’ well. Save this one for eating in fresh preparations.

English cucumbers, the long ridged ones, didn’t grow straight because they weren’t trellised. I’m more interested in their taste and texture than their ‘straightness’. As advertised, their skin was thin and their seeds took up hardly any room down the middle of them. More importantly, their taste was very cucumbery. And the texture was smooth and close grained–almost buttery in character. This is the cucumber you want for fussy little sandwiches with their crust cut off, and those sandwiches would be more tasty than you can imagine from here.

The slicer cucumbers were the closest thing to a disappointment in the tasting. These are smooth textured on the outside, deep green, and longer than the pickling cukes though nothing like as lengthy as the English varietal. They weren’t as crunchy as the lemon cucumbers. They weren’t as flavorful as the English cucumbers. And they verged on having a slightly bitter tang to them. Further, their seeds were large and kind of chewy. I’m forever evicting seeds from squash family fruits, but for those of you who usually do eat them this is one cultivar to treat differently.

Lastly, we tried the pickling cucumbers. They had a pretty good crunch. They weren’t as grainy as the lemon cucumbers, but were more so than the slicers. They had pretty good flavor. Their biggest plus when considering them for eating fresh is that their seeds are small, compact and easily chewed. AND they hold up great when being pickled.

Now you know what I know about our cucumbers.

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