The hot days of summer are the best time to use and enjoy cucumbers. Mild in flavor, cool, crisp and crunchy, cucumbers are an essential ingredient in summer salads, condiments, chilled soups and even sandwiches. We are most familiar with the dark, green American slicing cucumber; however, there are other varieties, several of which are seasonal at this time of year, that serve to enhance the overall appeal of this particular vegetable.
Botanists believe that cucumbers are descendants of wild gourds found growing in the Himalayas. Cucumbers are found in pictures and carvings in India dating two centuries before Christ. Today the largest and most widely varied types of cucumbers are still found growing in India. The major types grown for fresh markets worldwide can be roughly divided into three kinds: pickling cucumbers; slicing cumbers, which include European greenhouse types as well as the American slicer and several Asian varieties; and, Mediterranean, or Middle Eastern, cucumbers.