This week we had a couple of large cucumbers in our CSA bag and because I am a canner; I thought that this was a good time discuss the difference between a slicer and a pickling cucumber. The cucumbers that were in the bag are great for eating raw but they are not what you want to look for in a cucumber when making homemade pickles.
Cucumbers grown specifically for pickling will give you the best product in the end. They have fewer and smaller seeds than slicers and the skin on pickling cucumber varieties are less bitter. Over-sized pickling cucumbers also tend to become flabby in the middle. Most pickling variety need to be picked when firm and of adequate size: about 1 1/2 inches for gerkins and 4 inches for dills. If the pickling cucumber becomes too large and flabby you can still use them for bread and butter pickles or relishes.
Pickling cucumbers also tender be shorter, thicker and have a bumpy skin with prickly spines. They are never waxed, to allow brine to penetrate, and they may vary in color from creamy yellow to medium green.
Cucumbers grown to eat fresh, which is what was in the CSA bag this week, are called slicers. Slicers are eaten in the green form, since the over ripe yellow form is bitter and sour. They also are generally longer, smoother and more uniform in color. The skin on slicers are tougher and most times when you purchase commercial cucumbers they have a wax on them to keep them from drying out, but the ones from a farmers market or CSA will not be waxed.
The cucumbers we had were great just sliced and eaten with a low-fat dip.But to change it up I took a tortilla shell and layered: seasoned low-fat cream cheese, turkey luncheon meat, finely chopped red peppers, carrots, onions and CUCUMBERS. Gave them a good rolling up and there we have a light supper meal with chips and sliced peaches on the side. You can make your sandwich roll-ups with a variety of fresh vegetables and favorite luncheon meats.