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What: Lemon cucumbers are an heirloom variety that is easily mistaken for summersquash at first glance. The spherical vegetables range from plum- to apple-sized and have thin orange- and yellow-streaked skin. The inside flesh is tender and has a white-green cast. Cleo Braver of Cottingham Farm in Maryland recommends them on aesthetic grounds alone. She sells them for $1.99 per pound at the Bethesda Central and Rockville Pike markets. Lemon cucumbers are also widely available at markets around the city and will be in season for the rest of the summer.
How to Store: Contrary to popular practice, the cucumbers should be stored at room temperature to prevent spoiling.
How to Prepare: Braver likes to stick a slice on the rim of a glass or bowl as garnish for cocktails or chilled soup. She also suggests cutting the cucumbers in half, scooping out the centers, and using them as edible bowls for appetizer-sized gazpacho. Assembling a simple salad is about as fancy as you need to get: thickly slice, then quarter 10 medium lemon cucumbers. Salt generously and let stand for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop half an onion, blanch it, and set aside. Drain the water that will have accumulated from your cucumbers and taste to check the saltiness. If it’s too salty, rinse and drain. Toss the cucumbers with the blanched onions and garnish with basil.
Photo by Phoebe Connelly