Cucumbers are related to watermelon, and are frequently used in salads, adding an interesting texture.
Telegraph cucumber is the most popular cucumber and is grown under glass. It is long, usually 30–45 cm, and often individually wrapped in plastic because its skin is very soft and is easily damaged. The plastic stops the cucumber drying out and going soft. Telegraph cucumber skin does not need peeling. They are often referred to as seedless because when harvested at their best, the seeds are immature or virtually nonexistent.
The short cucumber is sometimes called the standard or stubby cucumber. It is short and has a slightly uneven surface. Grown indoors all year round, it can also be grown outdoors in the summer. The skin on a standard cucumber is tougher than a telegraph cucumber and is usually peeled. For some uses the seeds are also removed.
Apple cucumber is a pale yellow cucumber with a diameter of around 9 cm and is about 12 cm long. It is crisp like an apple and has a very mild sweet flavour. The skin can be quite hard so it is usually peeled.
Mini or cocktail cucumbers are similar to Lebanese cucumbers. They are green skinned, white fleshed but only 9–11 cm long. They are very sweet and juicy with a tender skin that does not need peeling.
Choose cucumbers with a firm skin and an even colour. The shade of the cucumber is important with telegraph and short cucumbers; a vibrant green colour assures the buyer that the cucumbers have recently come from the vine, while a dull green or yellow indicates age.
Cucumbers are most popular raw as a salad vegetable. Slices of raw cucumber can be used like crackers when serving nibbles with drinks. Cucumbers can also be used in cold soup. They can be chopped and sautéed, or juiced.