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Anatomy of a Cucumber

There’s nothing quite like a perfectly pickled cucumber. That satisfying crunch, that savory juiciness, that tangy flavor… there’s a reason why pickles are America’s favorite fermented veggie! What is it about cucumbers that make such superstar pickles?

Cucumbers are a member of the cucurbits gourd family, which includes squashes, pumpkins, zucchinis, and melons. Comparing these veggies (well, technically fruits) side-by-side, you get your first clue why cucumbers are perfect for pickling.

A cucumber has a thinner skin and softer rind compared to a pumpkin or summer squash. This allows the flavorful pickling brine to penetrate the cucumber’s more permeable flesh. But its skin is still thicker and tougher than, say, a zucchini. This helps the cucumber maintain its shape and firmness as it pickles. It also helps keep its natural juices inside (cucumbers are about 95% water). That’s why a good pickle is both crunchy, and juicy!

A firm rind surrounds a spongy center containing the seeds. This is the juiciest and most flavorful part of the cucumber. Many pickle recipes, including Buckman Brines recipes, are formulated to preserve the unique flavor and experience of the succulent center.

Not all cucumbers are created equal. While all varieties can be pickled, some varieties work better with certain recipes. In general, the best “picklers” are smaller, thicker-skinned, and have smaller, softer seeds. Buckman Brines always selects flavorful pickles that synergize with our pickle recipes. However, you can pickle “slicer” cucumbers, which are larger. In this case, the cucumbers are sliced before pickling. Pickled slices can be quite delicious, as the whole slice is exposed to the flavorful brine.

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