Persian cucumbers should not be confused with English cucumbers. Both varieties have thin skins that do not have to be peeled. They are grown in a controlled environment in large, commercial-growing greenhouse facilities. They can be used interchangeably in recipes.
Persian cucumbers are baby cucumbers that grow about 5 inches long. They are nearly seedless and have more crispness than regular cucumbers. They are often sold in packages of six or more.
English cucumbers are almost seedless. They grow to about a foot long. They are usually wrapped tightly in plastic in the grocery store, since they can easily get dehydrated. English cucumbers are known as European, Hothouse, “seedless,” or “burpless" cucumbers.
English cucumbers contain little to no cucurbitacin, the compound that causes bitterness. Some claim that cucurbitacin causes indigestion or burping.
Those who grow cucumbers in their home garden know that cucurbitacin increases in heat or during a drought, causing cucumbers to become bitter. The bitterness of cucurbitacin is nature’s way of protecting the fruit from animals that detest the unpleasant taste.
Cucumbers have numerous health benefits. They are nutritious. Their high water can help meet daily fluid needs. They are low in calories and have soluble fiber, making them a good food for aiding in weight loss.
Cucumbers are cold-sensitive and will have some surface pitting if stored below 45°. English cucumbers should be stored in the plastic wrapping in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh for about a week if they don’t retain any moisture. Cucumbers should not be stored in a humid vegetable drawer. They should be kept in a drier spot in the fridge. If using only a small portion of an English cucumber, open one end and pull back the plastic. Cut off what is needed and rewrap the end with the plastic.
Cucumbers add freshness and flavor to salads. This Spicy Cucumber Salad is easy to assemble and can be enjoyed as an accompaniment to many dishes.