At farmers’ markets come summertime, you’ll see all manner of cucumbers, from long and slender to the short, squat kind shown here, called pickling cucumbers. Look for firm fruits with no soft spots or bruises. Bigger, more mature cucumbers need peeling—especially if the rind is waxed—and the seeds need scooping out (a teaspoon does the trick), but with smaller, more tender ones, you needn’t bother.
Pickling cukes go way beyond pickles: Toss them into refreshing salads like Steve Johnson’s Cucumber-Tomato Salad, or mix thin slices with sour cream, red-wine vinegar, slivered red onion, and fresh dill. Try a raita, the Indian-style cucumber salad made with yogurt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne. Or make a quick, cooling puréed cucumber soup thinned with yogurt and lashed with garlic and fresh mint.