Why I’ll Never Buy Another Cucumber Without This Farmer’s Golden Rule Again

published Jun 14, 2024
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Bunch of cucumbers on boxes in supermarket
Credit: Andrey Burstein

Lately, picking a good cucumber has got me in a pickle. A literal pickle-y pickle! No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to find a sweet, thin-skinned cucumber that’s just ripe enough for all the summer salads, mezze plates, and, yes, quick pickles of my dreams.

I decided to take matters into someone else’s hands — by asking the experts at my local farmers market. My buddy Alfonso, who gave me the DL on how to pick the best strawberries, has become my go-to for any and all of my produce-picking queries. Once again, he came through and shared this lesser-known tip on what to look for when selecting a perfectly ripe cucumber that’s ready for anything. (Spoiler: Everything I assumed about cucumbers was, well, wrong?) Let’s take a look.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Why You Should Always Use the “Yellow Stripe” Rule, According to Farmers

First, did you know that as cucumbers grow they actually turn more and more yellow? Well, that’s what you want to avoid in any and all cucumbers you see at the store, farm, or market. This is because, when you leave cucumbers to grow — and they will continue to grow — they start to turn shades of light green to yellow, and form thicker skins and a bitter flesh that’s packed with seeds. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

According to Alfonso, we want to seek out cucumbers that are dark green from top to bottom, with little to no yellow forming (which includes those yellow stripes that form from top to bottom along the sides of cucumbers). Those will be crisp, with a thin skin, and slightly sweet — an ideal cucumber experience, if I ever heard of one. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Testing the Yellow Stripe Rule

I decided to pick a peck of not-pickled pickles to test out this cool new tip. I grabbed some solidly dark green cucumbers, with no yellowing in sight, from the produce section of my nearby grocery store. Of course, these were very conventionally grown, slicing cucumbers, but the same is true of the other types of cucumbers you’ll find at farmers markets (or in your garden).

Slicing into the first cuke, I did notice how thin the skin was. So far so good! While some of the other cucumbers I’d recently bought needed to be peeled prior to eating, these slices were readily crunchable; the skin was not as tough to sink my teeth into. The flesh itself also had just a handful of tiny seeds, too, which gave way to a sweet, refreshingly juicy flesh. We got a winner here! Alfonso, you did it again. 

Got a tip for picking out fruit and vegetables at the grocery store? Tell us about it in the comments below.