Pay Close Attention To Color To Choose The Absolute Best Cucumber

A cucumber is a pretty versatile vegetable that lends itself to both sweet and savory dishes. You can saute it, grill it, blend it into a smoothie, and, most commonly, slice it up and enjoy it fresh as a stand-alone snack or in a bowl or green salad. But in order to experience the full potential of a refreshing cucumber, you must start by picking the absolute best cukes at the grocery store — the biggest freshness giveaway is the color.

The best cucumbers have a uniform dark green hue which indicates the veggie is young and fresh. However, some varieties like the English cucumber are slightly different. They usually have a lighter shade of green and in that case, pay attention to the uniformity; the color should be even all through without any spotting. And speaking of spots, cucumbers with zones of yellowing are a sign the vegetable has stayed for too long on the vine and is therefore overripe. Don't put those in your cart.

The whole point of picking the fresh, uniformly colored cucumbers over the yellowing versions is that you end up with the crispiest cukes with maximum hydration and crunchiness. When cut open, they reveal a thick, juicy interior with minimal seeds and therefore avail more cucumber flesh for your enjoyment. But that's not all — here are other indicators of freshness to look out for when shopping for cucumbers.

More signs of a fresh cucumber

Other signs of a fresh cucumber are its size and shape. It's easy to reach for the biggest produce when shopping thinking you're getting the best deal for your money; however, when it comes to cucumbers, that's not the case. The best cukes are the smaller ones since they're likely younger, crispier, and fresher than their larger counterparts.

Additionally, go for cucumber with a uniform oblong shape. Avoid those with uneven bulges, as those areas most likely have large seeds inside. And if you spot any prominent wrinkles or shriveling, that's a sign the cucumber is either dehydrated or aged. Fresh cucumbers have tight glossy skin which means they're holding maximum moisture inside.

After all the visual inspection, pick up the cucumber and feel the texture. You want a firm cucumber with hardly any give. Mushiness is a sign the cucumber has started to rot, while a solid feel indicates that the cucumber is full of water and will be crisp and delicious. Lastly, you can give the cucumber a quick sniff. A fresh cucumber is usually nearly odorless, so if you smell any sour or off-putting odor, that's a sign the cucumber might be spoiled. By following these tricks for finding the freshest produce at the grocery store, you can ensure that the cucumbers you choose will be fresh, flavorful, and perfect for your next recipe.