Ever heard the expression ‘cool as a cucumber' – well that's us. And this is the coolest site on the web and don't let any other vegetable tell you differently. The only place to hang out.
While you're here, I'll tell our story.
We're related to the melons, pumpkins and squash but we have our style. We're not round like they are – we're usually torpedo-shaped with green to dark green or white skin surrounding a crisp white edible flesh containing seeds. Some of us have small rounded ridges; some have smooth skin with scattered small bumps; some of us are very prickly indeed! The older we get the more bitter our seeds become so go for varieties such as Lebanese and telegraph cucumbers which have smaller sweeter seeds. Or baby cucumbers that are great for snacking.
In Australia we're available all year round but we are at best supply in warmer months of October to February.
In Australia we're sold by type, not variety. Here are the main cucumber varieties;
We’ve become very popular over the past few years. We’re a small cucumber (about 15cm long) and have dark green thin skin. Our mild-flavoured flesh is crisp and juicy and contains tiny soft edible seeds. You’ll often see a small stem still attached to us. Lebanese cucumbers account for 31% of fresh production.
We're a smaller round to oval in shape and are about the size of a cricket ball. We are crisp like an apple and have a mild flavour. Our seeds and tender and bright. We are not as popular as we use to be and not many of us are grown.
Sometimes called Continental cucumbers, we're the longest and thinnest cucumbers (about 30-35cm long by 5cm wide). Our skin is dark green and has shallow grooves running lengthways from top to bottom. We're usually sold enclosed in a plastic wrap. Telegraph cucumbers are very popular and make up 57% all cucumber production.
These tiny cucumbers (about 8-10cm long) are rather new to the market. They are a great no waste, grab-and-go snack. Extra crunchy and juicy they are also great sliced in salads. They’re sold in punnets or containers. This type including the trademark Qukes® accounts for 11% of fresh product.
We are stubby in shape (about 20-25cm long and 5-6 wide) and have firm dark green skin covered in small white bumps.
Gherkins or Pickling cucumber
We're very small, prickly, dark green cucumbers used to make pickles.
We grow on trailing vines which can produce 25 to 125 cucumbers. Our parent plant has large leaves to protect us from the sun. We grow best in a sub-tropical (hot and dry) climate with well-drained sandy to light loam soil. Many of us are grown inside a vegetable glasshouse, where the temperature and environment are carefully controlled to create the perfect conditions for plants to grow.
Once our seeds have been sown the vine will grow quite quickly and usually bear fruit 8-10 weeks after planting. Depending on our variety we're ripe when we've filled out and have a deep green or white colour.
We're harvested by hand by cutting us from the vine leaving a short stalk.
Select those of us with bright-green skins, with a firm and fresh appearance. Avoid those with soft spots or yellowing colour, except in the case of the apple cucumber – its skin is a pale yellow-white.
Do not store us with fruit, as we will yellow and age faster. Store us in an airtight container or recyclable bag in the crisper of your fridge. Use within 3-4 days.
Cucumbers are grown in most states of Australia with South Australia and Queensland being the biggest producers.
We're one of the oldest cultivated plants having been grown in India for about 3000 years. We were one of the favourite foods of the Pharaohs and when expelled from Egypt, the Hebrews took us with them.
The ancient Greeks and Romans grew us too. Emperor Tiberius liked us so much that he had us served to him every day. In winter, to ensure his supply, the gardeners grew cucumbers on movable beds enabling them to move the plants away from the frost and cold.
From Italy and Greece, we spread throughout Europe, the Middle East and China by the 2nd century AD.
We were taken to North America by Europeans in the 16th century where we were recorded as being grown in Florida and Montreal.
The first chaplain of the New South Wales Colony, the Rev. Richard Johnson, successfully grew cucumbers in 1789 in his Sydney garden, which means our seeds must have come to Australia with the First Fleet.
We're most refreshing to eat raw, with our skin on unless it's very tough.
Cut into sticks we make a great snack or are perfect served with your favourite dip.
We can be sliced lengthways in thin long ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Add cucumber ribbons to salads, sandwiches and wraps.
Lebanese cucumbers and baby cucumbers are a real treat to take to school as they are sweet and crunchy (like an apple).
Grated cucumber is used to make the well-known tzatziki dip.
Try these cool cucumber recipes from Sydney Markets;