Apple Cucumbers are an apple size cucumber with sweet taste and crisp juicy flesh that can be eaten skin and all. When ripe the fruit has small white spines (soft prickles) and faint green markings running from the blossom end to the stem. As a cucumber it is the most nutritious one.
Selection: As cucumbers are very sensitive to heat, choose ones that are displayed in refrigerated cases if buying from the supermarket. They should be firm, rounded at their edges, and their colour good. Avoid cucumbers that are yellow, puffy, have sunken water-soaked areas, or are wrinkled at their tips.
Storage: Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator where they can kept for several days. If you do not use the entire cucumber during one meal, wrap the remainder tightly in plastic or place it in a sealed container so that it does not become dried out. For maximum quality, cucumber should be used within one or two days. Cucumbers should not be left out at room temperature for too long as this will cause them to wilt and become limp.
General Use: Young cucumbers have a mild and tender skin and it is unnecessary to peel them. Many European recipe books advocate peeling and removing the seeds, but in New Zealand the whole cucumber is usually enjoyed.
Raw: Cucumbers are most popular as a salad vegetable, but they can be prepared in a surprising number of other ways. Slices of cucumber with a topping such as salmon or paté can be used as you would crackers when serving nibbles with drinks.
Dip: Mash the feta cheese with a fork, you still want small chunks and not a smooth mixture. Combine with sour cream, mint and grated apple cucumbers.
Boiled/Steam: Boil or stream thickly sliced cucumber in salted water for 5-10 minutes, then drain and toss in butter.
Sautéed: Sauté sliced cucumber in a little butter for 5-10 minutes, add a little lemon juice and serve sprinkled with chopped fresh herbs such as chervil, dill, chives, fennel, parsley, mint or paprika.
Stuffed: Cucumbers can be hollowed out and filled with a savoury filling eaten raw, microwaved or baked.
Cold Soup: For a refreshing cold gazpacho soup that takes five minutes or less to make, simply purée cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and onions, then add sea salt and pepper to taste.