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In season early summer: Cucumbers

In season early summer: Cucumbers

Cucumbers can come in a variety of colours (white, yellow, green), and sizes (short and thick, long and thin, even round), with skin that can be smooth and thin, or thick and rough.

Cucumbers come from the plant variety Cucumis sativus. Gherkins are a smaller, shorter, thicker, spinier variety of cucumber Cucumis anguiria. The term gherkin, however, has now come to describe any small cucumber pickled in a vinegary brine (they may also be called pickled cucumber or pickles). The French call their pickled gherkins cornichons.


Select firm cucumbers that don’t have wrinkled tips. Thin-skinned cucumbers generally have fewer seeds than thick-skinned cucumbers.


Cucumbers can be sensitive to heat so storing cucumbers in the fridge, keeping cut ends covered and dry, will keep the vegetable fresh for up to a week.


At around 96 per cent water, cucumber is a very low-energy vegetable which adds small amounts of a range of vitamins and minerals, along with that extra crunch to our salads.


This versatile vegetable gives perfect freshness and texture to salads. Toss diced cucumbers, sugar snap peas and fresh mint with a rice wine vinaigrette, or team chunky cucumber pieces with tomatoes, diced feta, red onions and olives to make a traditional Greek salad. Chopped or grated cucumbers and a little vinegar or lemon stirred through low-fat plain yoghurt is the foundation for dish accompaniments raita (Indian), cacik (Turkish) and tzatziki (Greek). Or for a quick, gazpacho (a refreshing cold soup), purée cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and onions then season to taste.

Recipe ideas

Persian hummus
Baked fish with cucumber salad

Did you know? China is the largest producer of cucumbers.

First published: Dec 2011

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