East Asian “Kyuri” Cucumber
Known as “Kyuri” in Japanese, these small cucumbers can be a challenge to peel due to their curly shape and ridged, bumpy skin. The good news is the skin is mild and eminently edible. Even better, these burpless cucumbers are mainly free from seeds and have become widely available at most North American and European supermarkets. Look for ’em in a kappa-maki near you! (cucumber image via Uo3rt)
Fun fact: gherkins aren’t “baby cucumbers”, they’re actually a separate species (Cucumis anguria, as opposed to the common Cucumis sativus). But wait, there’s more! Unlike most cucumber cultivars that have their figurative and literal roots in South Asia, Gherkins are native to Africa (though their popularity has spread them across the globe). Most of us usually encounter Gherkins in pickle jars. They also have been used raw, not pickled, as a folk medicine for stomach ailments… EATEN, by the way, NOT as suppositories! (cucumber image via Ka_Q / Needpix)
Kachri (Cucumis pubescens) are very small wild cucumbers native to dry and desert regions of northwestern India and southern Pakistan. Kachri are rarely grown commercially, which is unfortunate because human population growth and habitat loss has begun to affect their availability. Kachri may be small but their taste – said to be bitter when young, ranging to sour and melon-like when more mature – has made them indispensable for certain soups, stews and curries. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find dried kachri powder at a South Asian specialty food store. (cucumber image via Satish Krishnamurthy)
Bored with the same old corn-ucopia? Check out Oh My Cob! 7 Amazing Colorful Corn Varieties!