For Longer Lasting Cucumbers, The Persian Variety Is Your Go-To

Here are some nerdy facts for your next dinner party: Cucumbers are often considered vegetables and almost always sold next to their lookalikes, zucchini. From a culinary point, that is right. But from a botanical point, cucumbers are a fruit. By definition, a botanical fruit would have at least one seed and grow from the flower of the plant. If you've ever seen their golden blossoms, you know that cucumbers fit this description.

As with fellow fruits like apples and mangoes, there are many different kinds of cucumbers, and 'the best' type of cucumber for you really depends on how you plan to use it. The Kirby variety is often used for pickles, while English or Continental cukes are best when eaten on their own or used to enhance a cocktail. But if all you want are cucumbers with a longer shelf life, ones that will still stay crunchy and plump for one to two weeks, your best option is the Persian cucumber, also known as Lebanese cucumber or Beit Alpha cucumber.

Persian cucumbers are less watery than other varieties

You may have noticed Persian cucumbers at the farmers market or in the grocery store. They are short and grow between 4 to 6 inches in length compared to Japanese cucumbers which can grow up to 12 inches long. Their skin is smooth and thin compared to the Kirby variety which has an uneven, bumpy texture.

But those are superficial qualities. The best thing about the Persian cucumber might just be its longevity and flavor. It is mostly a seedless variety, which is notable because it is the seeds in the middle of any cucumber that increase its water content. So while other varieties may become slimy and watery after a few days, the Persian kind is more likely to stay crisp. The other reason is flavor. The Persian cucumber is denser, with a more concentrated taste, which makes it suitable for eating raw. It is no wonder that Bon Appétit ranked it in the top spot on its list of cucumbers, above other types like Kirby and English.

They're best enjoyed raw

If you're ready to start buying Persian cucumbers, consider not keeping them in the refrigerator. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture recommends storing cucumbers at approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity and the temperature in household fridges tends to be below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Nor should you store them near ripening fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas. All cucumbers experience accelerated yellowing and decay when exposed to ethylene, so keep those Persian cucumbers away from bananas, melons, or tomatoes. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of buying a long-lasting cucumber.

The obvious use for these cucumbers is in a Persian dish like mast-o khiar, a yogurt flavored with cucumbers and herbs. You might also consider a refreshing recipe like cucumber and avocado gazpacho with grapes, which specifically calls for seedless cucumbers. If you really need to use up all the cucumbers and cannot be bothered to find a recipe, just eat them raw as a snack. After all, that may be the purest and best use for these durable fruits.