Most garden cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae. However, there are a few vegetables we refer to as cucumbers that are actually members of the melon family, e.g. the Armenian cucumber and several varieties of Oriental cucumbers (Cucumis melo var. flexuosus). Cucumber plants are creeping vines which bear cylindrical, edible fruit when ripe. There are three main types of cucumbers: "slicing", "pickling", and "burpless". Within these types, many varieties exist. Cucumber content usually consists of about 90% water.
1. Slicing cucumbers are grown to be eaten fresh. They are mainly eaten in the unripe green form since the ripe yellow form normally becomes bitter and sour. Slicers are generally longer, smoother, more uniform in color, and have a thicker skin than pickling cucumbers.
2. Pickling cucumbers can be pickled for flavor and longer shelf-life. Although any cucumber can be pickled, those intended specifically for pickling grow to about 3 to 4 inches long and about 1 inch wide. Compared to Slicers, the Picklers tend to be shorter, wider, less regularly shaped, and have bumpy skin with tiny white or black-dotted spines. Their skin is never waxy. Color can vary from creamy yellow to pale or dark green.
3. Burpless cucumbers are sweeter and have a thinner skin than others and are reputed to be easy-to-digest and to have a pleasant taste. They can grow as long as 2 feet and are nearly seedless.