Is it even a salad without a nice, crispy cucumber?
With so many different types of cucumbers at the grocery store, you might be wondering what is an English cucumber?
It’s more expensive than the other cucumbers in the vegetable aisle and wrapped in fancy plastic.
Unlike bulk cucumbers, English cucumbers are seedless and have tender skin.
But there’s more to love than just its seedless meat inside.
English cucumbers are mild, sweet, and don’t taste bitter.
Let’s dive into what is an English cucumber, how to pick one out, and how to use them!
What Is an English Cucumber?
With over 100 varieties of cucumbers all over the globe, it’s hard to pick out a favorite.
But the English cucumber lands high on just about everyone’s list.
If English cucumbers were a car, they’d be a Cadillac.
So what about these unique cucumbers make them worth the bump in price?
English cucumbers, or “greenhouse cucumbers,” can develop fruit without fertilization, so they don’t have seeds.
These seedless cucumbers have firmer, less watery, crunchy meat and thinner skin that you don’t need to peel.
But the allure of the English cucumber doesn’t stop there. These fancy European cucumbers just taste better.
They’re typically called English cucumbers but go by European, greenhouse, seedless, or burpless cucumbers.
What Does an English Cucumber Taste Like?
Overall, English cucumbers are sweeter and less bitter.
Other cucumbers, like the American cucumber, develop large seeds, especially if they grow on the vine too long.
If you have ever had a cucumber that tastes very bitter, it’s because of the seeds.
Because the English cucumber is seedless, the meat inside is much sweeter.
It has a pleasant, gentle cucumber flavor with just a touch of sweetness.
Even the skin tastes a little sweet!
Using English cucumbers in recipes and cocktails adds gentle cucumber flavor with a touch of sweetness and zero bitterness.
English Cucumber vs. Regular Cucumber
While cucumber shopping, you’ll likely come across two types of English and American cucumbers.
American cucumbers are affordable and offer a bigger bang for your buck at face value.
But American cucumbers aren’t always the best option. They’re a little shorter than English cucumbers and plumper.
But that extra plump isn’t always a good thing.
Plump American cucumbers have lots of seeds, which can taste quite bitter if you don’t take the time to remove them carefully.
While the skin of the American cucumber is smooth, it’s not palatable.
It doesn’t taste very pleasant and can alter the flavor of your dish.
English cucumbers are more expensive, but they don’t require prep and taste better. The skins are bumpy but do not taste bitter.
And the meat inside is completely seedless, translating to a firmer, crunchier, and sweeter cucumber.
English cucumbers are more expensive but are well worth their slight bump in price.
Why Are English Cucumbers Wrapped in Plastic?
Ever wonder why English cucumbers earn the plastic wrap treatment? It’s not because they have a superiority complex!
Because most consumers remove the skin of American cucumbers anyway, they have a coating of edible wax on the outside.
Have you ever tried washing an American cucumber and noticed the water beads up? That’s because of the wax coating.
This wax helps to prevent moisture loss and keeps the cucumber fresher as it sits on the shelf.
Since English cucumbers have edible skin, they don’t get the edible wax treatment.
Instead, retailers wrap them in plastic to protect the skin, prevent moisture loss, and keep them fresh.
How to Buy and Store English Cucumbers
When picking out an English cucumber, squeeze the side to ensure no soft spots.
If the cucumber feels nice and firm, it’s at the peak of freshness.
Examining the skin can also tell if an English cucumber is fresh. If the skin looks dry and shriveled, it’s likely overripe and dry inside.
After you pick out your perfect English cucumber, the best place to store it is in the refrigerator.
English cucumbers last for up to one week in the fridge when chilled.
It’s important to note that these delicate cucumbers risk “chilling injury” if positioned in a cold area of your fridge.
For English cucumbers, resist the temptation of the vegetable crisper!
Instead, place them in a warmer area of your fridge along the front.
If you are only using half of the cucumber, be sure to keep the plastic on.
Slice as much of the cucumber as you need, and then carefully place the plastic wrap around the end to prevent it from drying out.
How to Use English Cucumbers
Washing and slicing an English cucumber is excellent on a salad. But you already knew that!
There are tons of clever ways to use English cucumbers outside of salads.
The flavor of these cucumbers is sweet and mild without a hint of bitterness.
This makes them a great candidate for anything from tzatziki sauce to cocktails.
Add English cucumbers to a cold noodle bowl for added crunch, or throw them in some homemade salsa.
They even make a refreshing drink like a cucumber and gin cocktail.
For a super refreshing treat, whip up a pitcher of cucumber water!
English cucumbers make the absolute best cucumber water.
Their gentle sweetness tastes much more refreshing that American cucumbers.
The high water content keeps you hydrated. They even have a healthy dose of Vitamin A to promote healthy heart and lung function.
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