The Best Cucumbers for Eating or Pickling

Cucumbers in the garden

The Best Cucumbers for Eating or Pickling (Plant A Few Different Varieties)

When choosing cucumbers, the question is really "to burp, or not to burp?" Cucumbers that make you burp are the ones that make great pickles; the burpiness means they have higher levels of cucurbitacin. Cucumbers that are best eaten fresh are called "burpless", "eating", or "slicers", since so many of us slice them into salads or onto sandwiches.

The refreshing aroma of cucumber says summer, and it's the second most popular vegetable with home gardeners (after King Tomato, of course). In our video Tricia plants and grows cucumbers (and fights pests organically). Tricia likes pickling cucumbers, but most gardeners want eating cukes too. armenian cucumbers

Grow these cucumbers for fresh-from-the-garden flavors

The Armenian cucumbers shown above are a prized variety for eating and slicing (without burping). Suyo Long grows up to 16 inches of burpless tenderness. The celebrated Straight Eight is reliable and smooth, with heavy yields. Plus, it's easy to slice. Lemon cucumbers are round and yellow just as their name would suggest. Their delicate skin and light flavor mean lemon cucumbers often get eaten in the garden.  

Grow these cucumbers for the perfect crunchy pickle

Okay, we made this one easy for you. If you want great pickles, you get a big hint if the word "pickle" is in the cucumber seed's name! Homemade Pickles grows 5 to 6 inches long. Feeling patriotic? National Pickling came from research sponsored by the National Pickle Packers Association and works both when picked gherkin-small at 2 to 3 inches, or at standard 5 to 6 inches.

Cucumbers that play on both teams

Some burpless cucumbers also make good pickles. They call the variety Muncher because it's good straight from the vine, but it's also a nice pickler if you pick it small (4 to 6 inches). Tendergreen is a burpless and you can grow it to 8 inches as a slicer, but if you want to pickle it just harvest the cukes when they're small.

Cucumber vocabulary


The prickly hairs on certain cucumbers can certainly make their presence felt, as in you might need to wear garden gloves when you harvest your crop. The flavors of some spiny cucumbers make that little inconvenience worthwhile.


Those little bumps on some cucumber skins (shown above) have a special name. When reading seed pack information about cucumbers, watch for this word, if the bumpiness is a pro or a con for you.


Cucumbers are in the cucurbit family, along with pumpkins, squash, and melons. Why do you need to know that? First, because the name is fun to say. Second, because you can avoid many soil borne diseases if you rotate your crops and don't replant family members in the same place for 3 years. We have an intro to vegetable families and crop rotation here.

Additional Information on Cucumber Types

Cucumbers are a versatile and popular vegetable that come in various types, each with its unique characteristics and uses. One of the most well-known uses of cucumbers is in making pickles, such as dill pickles and bread and butter pickles, which are essential components of charcuterie boards and snacks. In this article, we will explore different types of cucumbers, including those ideal for pickling, and discuss their various attributes.

  1. National Pickling Cucumbers: National pickling cucumbers, also known as National Pickling or Chicago pickling cucumbers, are a widely grown type for making dill pickles. These cucumbers are relatively short and have bumpy, dark green skin. They are known for their crisp texture and are perfect for slicing into spears or chips for pickling.
  2. Boston Pickling Cucumbers: Boston pickling cucumbers are another popular choice for pickling. These cucumbers are known for their uniform size and shape, making them ideal for canning. They have thin skins and a refreshing crunch, which is perfect for creating delicious bread and butter pickles or classic dill pickles.
  3. Plants Producing: Cucumbers, including pickling cucumber varieties, thrive in small gardens. These plants are relatively easy to grow and can produce an abundant yield even in limited garden spaces. They require well-drained soil, adequate sunlight, and consistent watering to thrive.
  4. Angular Leaf Spot: When cultivating cucumbers, it's essential to be aware of diseases like angular leaf spot, which can affect cucumber plants. Proper care and disease prevention measures, such as crop rotation and selecting disease-resistant cucumber varieties, can help maintain a healthy cucumber garden.
  5. Cucumber Mosaic Virus: Another challenge that cucumber growers may face is the cucumber mosaic virus, which can affect the leaves, fruits, and overall health of the cucumber plant. It's essential to monitor for early signs of this virus and take appropriate measures to prevent its spread.
  6. Types of Pickling Cucumbers: Pickling cucumbers come in various shapes and sizes. Some are more suited for whole pickles, while others are ideal for spears or slices. Knowing the different types of pickling cucumbers and their characteristics can help you choose the right one for your pickling needs.
  7. Thin Skins: Many pickling cucumber varieties are prized for their thin skins, which allow them to absorb pickling brine and spices effectively. This results in pickles with a satisfying crunch and a balanced flavor profile.
  8. Dark Green Skin: The dark green skin of pickling cucumbers is not only visually appealing but also an indicator of their readiness for pickling. When cucumbers reach their peak ripeness, their skin will typically have a rich, dark green color.
  9. University of Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin has been instrumental in cucumber research and development. Researchers at the university have contributed to the breeding of cucumber varieties, including those suitable for pickling.

Cucumbers are a diverse group of vegetables with various types and applications. When it comes to pickling, National Pickling cucumbers and Boston Pickling cucumbers are top choices due to their unique attributes. Whether you have a small garden or ample space for cucumber plants, with proper care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of cucumbers, perfect for making your favorite type of pickles. However, it's crucial to be aware of potential challenges such as diseases like angular leaf spot and the cucumber mosaic virus and take preventive measures to ensure a successful cucumber crop. So, whether you're planning to create dill pickles for your charcuterie board or experiment with other pickling recipes, understanding the different types of cucumbers and their characteristics is essential for a successful and delicious outcome.

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Alex, I really cannot advise about which is better between National Pickling and Sumter. My suggestion is to grow one of each and decide for yourself. I do not grow cucumbers for pickles but for eating fresh instead. We are out of the National Pickling for 2022, so maybe that makes your decision a little easier!


I would like to know which is the preferred pickling cucumber between National Pickling and Sumter? I am trying a few different varieties this year. I have 4 beds designated for pickling cucumbers. I have three varieties chosen and need a fourth. The National Pickling and Sumter are available and I need to chose between the two. Any advise would be appreciated.


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