Making Pickles – What is the Difference between Cucumber Picklers and Slicers?I am going to start some dill pickles this week in preparation for a food preservation class on making pickles scheduled for early August. I found a local farming operation with a produce stand not far from our office who is selling pickling cucumbers. So what is the difference between a pickling cucumber and a slicing cucumber?
Pickling cucumbers are usually shorter, thicker and have bumpy skin with small prickly spines. They are not waxed, so the brine will penetrate more easily. Most pickling varieties are picked at 1 ½ inches for gerkins and 4 inches for dills. If the pickling cucumbers grow too large, they can still be used for bread and butter pickles.
Slicers are generally longer, smoother and more uniform in color. The skin is also tougher and if you purchase them at the grocery store, they usually have a wax on them to keep them from drying out. If you purchase slicers at a farmers market or produce stand or are part of a CSA, often they are not waxed. Typically slicers are eaten fresh in salads and sandwiches.
Whether the cucumbers are going to be used for pickling or eating, be sure to wash them well before consuming.