Cucumber offerings in the supermarket are so limited that until the boom in farmers' markets it was easy to suppose that there were only two or three varieties. In fact, there are dozens of dozens, wonderfully different in shape, color, and flavor. We planted a couple of varieties for fresh eating—few summer vegetables are as refreshing as a crispy cuke—and some little ones for pickling. When choosing a pickling cuke, go for one that's small enough to fit whole in a jar; gherkins are ideal.
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White Wonder Cucumbers
Also known as Albino, Ivory King, and Jack Frost, this cucumber is distinguished by its pale skin. Harvest young for thinner skin and crisp flesh.
Gold Standard Cucumbers
The yellow flesh offers as much as 5 times the beta-carotene of other cuke varieties. It's an excellent choice for both pickling and eating fresh.
The unique shape lends itself to dramatic presentations as a pickle on charcuterie boards. Pick young, as gherkins grow spinier as they mature.
Straight Eight Cucumbers
The quintessential cuke. The variety is foolproof for novice gardeners; true to their name, they grow straight. Classic dill pickle material.