What’s an English cucumber and how is it different from the standard variety? Here’s what you need to know.
What’s an English cucumber? Why buy it versus a standard slicing cucumber? It’s not secret: we much prefer the English cucumber to the standard variety. It’s got a better flavor and is easier to work with than the standard. Why? Here’s what you need to know about this variety, and a few recipes where the English cucumber shines.
What’s an English cucumber?
The English cucumber is also known as a European cucumber, hothouse cucumber, or seedless cucumber. They’re long, thin cucumbers sold covered in plastic at the store. Here’s what to know about this variety, and how it’s different from the standard variety:
- English cucumbers are long and straight, with a thin skin with ridges. The seeds are so small they are almost imperceptible. The flavor of an English cucumber is sweeter than the standard cucumber, and it doesn’t need to be peeled or seeded before eating! Because the thin skin is so fragile, it’s sold with a plastic covering in the grocery store.
- Standard slicing cucumbers are shorter, with thick, dark green skin and very large seeds. The thick skin and seeds can be bitter, so they’re often removed when cooking.
How to store it
It might seem odd that the English cucumber is sold in plastic wrap, but it’s necessary because of its very delicate skin. When you’re at the store, grab a cucumber that feels firm to the touch along its entire length. Store it in the produce drawer in your refrigerator with the plastic wrap on. It stays good for about 1 week refrigerated in the plastic wrap.
English cucumber calories
Cucumbers are very low in calories. One English cucumber has about 50 calories, depending on the exact size. This equates to about 2 cups of sliced cucumbers. The low calories are in part due to the water content: a cucumber is 96% water!
Cucumber also includes a large amount of nutrients, most of which are contained in the peel (source). This makes English cucumbers a good choice: because they don’t need to be peeled before eating!
English cucumber recipes
English cucumber is our preferred variety to use in recipes because of its sweet flavor: and because you don’t need to peel it or remove its seeds! Here are a few ways to use English cucumbers in recipes:
Here’s an ultra refreshing side dish: English cucumber salad with sour cream! The silky sauce with dill and shallots brings an irresistible flavor.
- 2 medium shallots
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried dill (or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh)
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 2 large English cucumbers (2 pounds), or peeled standard cucumbers
- Thinly slice the shallots (separate them into rings with your fingers). In a small container, stir together the shallots with the sour cream, white vinegar, dried dill, grated garlic clove, kosher salt, and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, thinly slice cucumbers and place them in a colander (if using standard cucumber, peel them first; English cucumbers don’t need to be peeled). Toss the slices with several larger pinches of kosher salt and rest 45 minutes. Remove them from the colander and pat them dry.
- When ready to serve, gently stir together the cucumbers and dressing (don’t stir too vigorously or it will cause bubbles). Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 2 hours; it gets watery if you refrigerate for too long with the sauce. If you’d like to prepare it in advance, refrigerate the components separately until serving.
- Category: Side dish
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Salad
Keywords: English cucumber
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.