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North Carolina Cucumbers

North Carolina CucumbersAs you will quickly recognize when you bite into one, cucumbers are not only crisp, but also cool and moist--attributes due to their exceptionally high water content. The cucumber belongs to the same vegetable family as pumpkin, zucchini (a close look-alike), watermelon, and other squashes. First cultivated in Asia in ancient times, it was brought to America by Columbus, and was eventually grown by both Native Americans and colonists from Florida to Canada. Today, "cukes," as they are popularly called, grow in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from the 1"-long ones sold as gherkins to mammoth greenhouse varieties that can reach 20" or longer.

There are two basic types of cucumbers, those eaten fresh (called slicing varieties) and those cultivated for pickling. The slicing cucumbers most commonly seen in supermarkets are field-grown varieties that are usually 6" to 9" long and have glossy, dark green skin and tapering ends. After harvesting, the skin is often waxed for longer shelf life.

In recent years, slicing cucumbers grown in greenhouses have become widely available. Most of these varieties originated in Europe (they are sometimes called European or English cucumbers), and they tend to be thin, smooth skinned, and one to two feet in length. The majority are also seedless, or nearly so. For that reason, many people find greenhouse cucumbers easier to digest (hence another of its names, the "burpless" cucumber). They also tend to be milder in flavor--or blander, depending on your taste buds--than field-grown varieties. Greenhouse cukes are usually more expensive.

Other less common slicing varieties include Armenian (pale green skin, curled end, soft seeds), Sfran (compact cukes from the Persian Gulf), and Japanese (long and slender with warty bumps). Most distinctive is the lemon cucumber, which looks like a large lemon with pale greenish-yellow skin.

Pickling varieties are smaller and squatter, and have bumpy, light green skins. Most are processed into pickles, but one type--the kirby, which is used to make commercial dill pickles--is also sold fresh (and usually unwaxed). Cucumber-lovers appreciate fresh kirbies for their thin skin, crisp flesh, and tiny seeds.

North Carolina Cucumbers Growers/Shipper List

Cooling/Storage Requirements of North Carolina Cucumbers

Suitable Cooling Method(s)

Forced Air Cooling, Hydocooling

Optimum Temp ºF


Freezing Temp ºF


Optimum Humidity %


Normal Storage Life

2 weeks


Nick Augostini, Marketing Specialist
North Carolina Dept of Agriculture & Consumer Services
202 Cunningham Road
Kinston, NC 28501
(252) 527-7125