Few vegetables are more refreshing than a crisp, cold cucumber. This member of the melon family adds a clean taste to salads and sandwiches, yet all too often the cucumbers you find at the grocery store are bitter, rubbery specimens. Knowing what to look for is more important to picking the right cucumber than most other vegetables, since there is a big difference between the good and the bad.
Pick up the cucumber. It should feel heavy for its size.
Squeeze the cucumber gently. It should not yield to light pressure.
Examine the skin of the cucumber. It should be taut and thin, not heavy and waxy like many store-bought cucumbers are.
Avoid any cucumbers with soft spots, cuts or bruises that will make it rot more quickly.
Look for any signs of shriveling at the non-stem end of the cucumber, which usually indicates it is old and starting to dry out.
Avoid buying the largest cucumbers you can find, since they tend to be less flavorful and more rubbery than smaller ones. Sometimes the best cucumbers are the miniature ones used for pickling.