When it comes to refreshing summer vegetables, cucumbers are an undeniable favorite. Crisp, cool, and packed with hydration, cucumbers are not only delicious but also incredibly versatile in the culinary world. In Canada, a variety of cucumber cultivars thrive due to the diverse climate across the country. Here's just a few of the cucumber varieties found in Canada, and the best way to use them!
- English Cucumber: The English cucumber, also known as the hothouse or seedless cucumber, is a popular choice in Canada. It is known for its long and slender shape, smooth skin, and crisp texture. With minimal seeds and a mild flavor, English cucumbers are often enjoyed raw in salads, sandwiches, and as a refreshing snack. Also fantastic for beverages, we love a gin & soda with cucumber slices!
- Persian Cucumber: Similar in appearance to the English cucumber, Persian cucumbers are shorter and slightly thicker. They are crisp and tender, with a mild and subtly sweet flavor. Persian cucumbers are ideal for pickling, or slicing into thin rounds for appetizer platters. This is the traditional cucumber used in in tzatziki! Also try a 'smashed' cucumber salad, with a traditional Thai vinaigrette of lime, fish sauce, sugar and chili. Gently 'smash' the cucumbers first before dicing so they hold the vinaigrette well.
- Kirby Cucumber: The Kirby cucumber, also known as the pickling cucumber, is a favorite among home gardeners and pickle enthusiasts. These small and bumpy cucumbers are excellent for making pickles due to their firm texture and ability to retain crunch even after pickling.
- Beit Alpha Cucumber: Originally from the Middle East, Beit Alpha cucumbers have gained popularity in Canada due to their exceptional flavor. These small and slender cucumbers have a thin, edible skin and a sweet, crisp flesh. They are perfect for slicing and adding to salads, blending into chilled soups, or making cucumber-infused cocktails.
- Lemon Cucumber: True to its name, the lemon cucumber resembles a small, round, yellow lemon. This rarer variety is unique not only in appearance but also in flavor. Lemon cucumbers have a mild, citrusy taste that adds a unique twist to salads and summer dishes. Try using in gazpacho, or infused water for a refreshing citrusy touch.
- Field Cucumber: one of our favourites, Field Cucumbers, also known as slicing cucumbers, are the most commonly grown cucumbers in Canada. They are typically larger in size with a slightly thicker skin and more prominent seeds compared to other varieties. Field cucumbers are almost always peeled and seeded, are perfect for slicing and of course, for this creamy cucumber salad, as they take on the dressing better than an english cucumber.
Creamy Cucumber Salad
2 large field cucumbers, peeled, quartered, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Salt, as needed
1 cup sour cream (go full-fat)
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1-2 tsp. sugar
A good amount of freshly ground black pepper
A handful of fresh dill, chopped (optional)
- Toss the seeded and cut cucumbers with a good pinch of salt. Let stand in a strainer over a bowl to drain to remove excess water, for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make dressing: whisk together sour cream, vinegar, sugar, pepper and another pinch of salt.
- Turn drained cucumbers out into a new bowl, leaving any liquid behind.
- Fold in as much or as little dressing as you like, along with the dill, if using.
- Taste for seasoning (sometimes a little flaky sea salt to finish is nice), chill and serve.