Small, tender, and sweet lemon cucumbers are a unique fruit. Though their name makes it seem like they’re a hybrid of two very different fruits, they’re actually just one type of cucumber. But they happen to look like lemons!
Keep reading to find everything you need to know about these small cucumbers, including what they look like, how they taste, and how to grow them yourself.
Lemon Cucumber Characteristics
What They Look Like
As their name suggests, lemon cucumbers look like lemons. They’re round and yellow on the outside, and they have a small protrusion at the end where they blossom.
But unlike lemons, this fruit has faint stripes, and on the inside, it looks more like a typical cucumber. When you slice into it, you’ll find that the flesh is a pale yellow-green with seeds throughout.
The fruit is typically 5-7 centimeters in diameter, just a bit smaller than a baseball. Because of their smaller size, you can easily finish a whole lemon cucumber in one sitting without having to waste any leftovers like you might with more standard cucumbers.
Eating Lemon Cucumbers
How They Taste
Despite their name, these cucumbers don’t actually taste like lemons (or any citrus, for that matter). Instead, their flavor is similar to other cucumbers.
They’re crisp and refreshing but perhaps a bit milder than typical cucumbers. Plus, they’re sweeter due to lower amounts of cucurbitacin, which is what makes most cucumbers taste a little bitter.
The cucumbers’ skin and seeds are edible, too.
How to Use Them
Like regular cucumbers, lemon cucumbers can be prepared in many different ways.
To keep it relatively simple, add raw lemon cucumber to a salad. Try this lemon cucumber tofu salad or a lemon cucumber and heirloom tomato salad.
You can also make lemon cucumber pickles. As an added bonus, these will last much longer than raw pickles, so it’s a great way to preserve them if you have more than you need.
The possibilities don’t end here, though! Get creative with drinks, cocktails, dipping sauces, and more.
Lemon cucumbers are a tasty, healthy option. Like regular cucumbers, they’re low in calories and fat, and they have a high water content, which makes them great for hydration.
They’re also a good source of many important vitamins and minerals, including potassium, Vitamin K, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. This means that the fruit is helpful in improving heart health, bone strength, blood clotting, digestion, gut health, and disease prevention.
Growing Lemon Cucumbers
Lemon cucumbers are relatively easy to grow, making them a great option for home gardeners. Keep reading to find everything you need to know about planting and caring for this crop.
Lemon cucumbers need plenty of space to grow, as they grow on vines that grow six-to-eight feet tall. However, if space is an issue, you can use a trellis to help your cucumbers grow vertically.
They generally require full sun, six to eight hours per day. The exception is the hottest summer months, in which some shade in the afternoon might be ideal.
Your soil should be rich, moist, and well-drained.
Once the weather begins to warm, and soil temperatures reach 65 degrees Fahrenheit (usually in the latter half of May), you can begin to plant your cucumbers.
If you’re planting directly outdoors, add compost or a fertilizer with low nitrogen levels to your soil before you plant your seeds. Then, plant seeds a half-inch deep, with about three feet between each planting site. Add a layer of mulch to help the soil retain moisture.
If you prefer to start your seedlings indoors, you can plant them a few weeks before the last frost. Use a seed tray, and fill it with rich, moist soil. Add your seeds and cover with a thin layer of soil.
For more information, visit our blog about How to Plant Cucumbers.
Typically, lemon cucumbers should be watered every other day. However, if you live in a moist climate, you can stretch this out with an additional day between waterings. If you’re planting your seeds indoors, you should water them daily.
The plant’s leaves retain moisture and are susceptible to mildew, so I recommend watering your cucumbers at the base of the plant, instead of from above.
Adding compost or fertilizer can also help your plant grow and produce more healthy cucumbers.
Pests & Diseases
When it comes to these cucumbers, the most common pests to watch out for are aphids and spider mites. If these pop up in your garden, you can spray your plants with insecticidal soap.
You should also keep an eye out for mildew, which most commonly attacks the leaves of the cucumber plant. To minimize the risk of mildew, ensure your plants have good air circulation, and try to avoid excess moisture. If you do start to notice mildew on your plants, remove the infected leaves so that it doesn’t spread further.
When your cucumbers begin to turn from green to pale yellow and reach the size of a lemon, they are ready for harvest. If your lemon cucumbers are a deep yellow, they are overripe and will likely taste bitter, so don’t wait too long once they seem ready.
Harvesting is simple. All you need to do is pluck the fruit from the vine. You can use garden shears to cut them off the vine, but they’re not required.
Where to Buy Lemon Cucumber Seeds
Finding these cucumbers in stores may be tricky, but many people find that they’re relatively easy to grow at home. Several retailers, including Hoss Tools and True Leaf Market, sell the seeds.
The Perfect Small, Mild Cucumber
If you’re looking for something new to add to your garden, the lemon cucumber is a great option. It’s small, has a mild taste, is great to eat, and is easy to grow.
Ready to continue discovering these funky fresh vegetables? Then learn more about cucumbers by checking out my planting guides, recipe tips, brand suggestions, and more!