My kids were eating lunch but they weren’t eating the cucumbers on their plate. “It’s bitter,” one said.

We were on the road and had bought two cucumbers at a farm stand. The first tasted great, but sure enough, the second was bitter — even in the middle, even after peeling it. “They’re growing the wrong variety,” I said.

Here are three cucumber varieties that I grew this summer that are never bitter and that I will be growing again. And I’ve also included one variety that is sometimes bitter but it’s good for pickling so it doesn’t matter.

Sweet Slice

Sweet Slice is the variety I would grow if I were a farmer selling at a stand because the cucumber looks like a regular cucumber but it never has a trace of bitterness and the plant is strong and highly productive.

Sweet Slice cucumber plant.

The skin of Sweet Slice is thin but has a few small spines. The shape of the cuke is beefy.

Sweet Slice cucumber on vine.

Summer Dance

If the beefy shape of Sweet Slice can be compared to a bomb, then the slender shape of Summer Dance is like a torpedo. Summer Dance is longer and sleeker, and to exaggerate this the skin has subtle longitudinal stripes. The skin is also glossy and almost devoid of spines.

The skin of Summer Dance is also thin, and the taste is crisp and without ever a hint of bitterness.

The Summer Dance plant is very productive.

Summer Dance cucumber plant.
Talk about production!

Summer Dance and Sweet Slice are two excellent, normal cucumbers for fresh eating that I will be growing again next year. They have shown no susceptibility to disease or heat in my yard. They have no powdery mildew, but then again my yard is hot and dry and I rarely get powdery mildew; I can’t say how they’ll do with powdery mildew near the beach.

Summer Dance and Sweet Slice also claim to be burpless although I’m not affected by cucumbers in that way so I can’t testify to this firsthand.

Striped Carosello Leccese

Onto two different types of cucumbers. Carosello (full name: Striped Carosello Leccese) is a cucumber-melon from Italy that I’ve grown for a few years now and am appreciating more each year. The plant grows strong and produces much fruit. The fruit grows so fast that I have a hard time keeping up with harvest: some are big as cantaloupe before I notice them.

The vigorous Carosello vine.
A Carosello fruit growing fast.

The shape of the fruit is rounder than a traditional cucumber, and the skin in striped and covered in a short fuzz.

The taste of Carosello is wonderfully mild, without the sticky texture that regular cucumbers can have. And I sometimes think I taste a hint of lemon.

National Pickling

Finally, we have a pickling cucumber. You can eat National Pickling cucumbers fresh — they have a dense texture, a nice crunch, but the skin is prickly and can have a bit of bitterness.

Stout National Pickling cuke on vine.

That bitterness disappears if you pickle the cucumbers though. You get all the pickle taste and the crisp texture only.

The National Pickling plant has been very productive for me this summer, as it has been in past summers.

National Pickling cucumber plant.

For fresh eating though, I will be growing the other three varieties again next year. I no longer take a chance on any cucumber variety that gets bitter, as the one from the farm stand was. With these varieties I grew, you can let them get huge and they still taste so clean that the kids stick their whole face inside!

He did not pose for this picture. I caught him eating a giant Sweet Slice like this and snapped a photo.

Seeds

I grew these cucumbers from seed. I got my seeds of these varieties from: ‘Summer Dance’ – Territorial; ‘Sweet Slice’ – Territorial; ‘Striped Carosello Leccese’ – Cucumber Shop; ‘National Pickling’ – High Mowing.

Other cucumber posts:

“Growing cucumbers in Southern California”

“Growing ‘Green Finger’ cucumbers”

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