At first glance, the Suyo Long cucumber may look rather unconventional compared to the average cuke. Regardless, this long, prickly, tasty fruit deserves a spot in your fridge or home garden.
Keep reading to learn all about these delicious cucumbers, including what they taste like and how to grow them!
History of the Suyo Long Cucumber
While the first cucumbers were found in India roughly 3,000 years ago, Suyo Long arrived a few hundred years later. This heirloom cucumber is believed to have originated in China around 100 BC.
Naturally, the Chinese would use Suyo Long and other native varieties in medicine, due to their many health benefits. Today, the cucumber is used in the same way but also throughout Sichuan and Taiwanese cuisine.
Over the years, they have become especially popular throughout home gardens, as they are relatively easy to grow. Suyo Long is not only heat tolerant but also resistant to downy mildew and other common diseases.
Characteristics of Suyo Long Cucumbers
The Suyo Long cucumber has an appearance unlike that of any other cucumber. At full maturity, it typically measures 10”–16” long but may grow up to 18” in some gardens. The cucumber is known for its distinct C-shaped or S-shaped curve and often draws comparisons to the painted serpent cucumber.
As for the cucumber’s color, Suyo Long is primarily dark green throughout. There may be shades of light green or white around the fruit’s ribs or towards the ends.
The Suyo Long cucumber is a burpless variety, so it has no trace of acidity or bitterness. Its flavor is mild and even slightly sweet.
While somewhat tender, Suyo Long still possesses the crispness and satisfying snap that you might expect from a cucumber. Its thin, bumpy, and ribbed skin is covered with small prickles that can be removed by hand.
About the Suyo Long Cucumber
Suyo Long cucumbers are slicers, meaning they are best used for raw eating, salads, and sandwiches. While you can pickle them, they are not traditional pickling cucumbers. Due to their length, you will likely need to chop them before jarring them.
Because these cucumbers have a relatively short shelf life, you should aim to use them shortly after they are picked. They will last roughly one to two weeks in the refrigerator before spoiling.
Suyo Long cucumbers are packed with various nutrients. In addition to vitamins A, B, and C, these fruits contain calcium, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. Especially rich in antioxidants, they are often used to promote healthy skin. They can even be applied topically for inflammatory purposes.
The cucumber is also a popular low-calorie snack for those who are wanting to lose weight. As is it high in both fiber and water, it can help regulate digestion and hydrate the body.
While these cucumbers are mostly used for fresh eating, salads, and chilled soups, you can also add them to certain hot recipes.
Suyo Long is especially popular throughout Sichuan, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean cuisine. Work them into a stir-fry or feature them in the sweet-and-sour cucumber side!
If you want to grow your own Suyo Long cucumbers, there are a few things to consider before you start.
First, these cucumbers are warm-weather fruits and are best grown in USDA zones 4–12. For the best results, wait until the last frost has passed and once temperatures are consistently 70 degrees or higher. This will typically occur around mid-April or early May.
When preparing your garden bed, keep in mind that Suyo Long cucumbers are heavy feeders that require rich, fertile soil. Use both compost and an organic fertilizer throughout the area.
Since Suyo Long is a vining plant, consider providing a trellis for it to climb. Doing this will not only conserve space in your garden but it may also yield straighter fruit.
Once you are ready to sow, space groups of three or four seeds roughly two to three feet apart. Cover them with approximately ½” of fertile soil and offer one inch of water per week. While Suyo Long requires six hours of full sunlight per day, partially shading the area when temperatures are especially high.
Seeds will typically germinate between five and seven days, as long as soil temperatures remain above 60 degrees. Your cucumbers will reach maturity in approximately 60–70 days—as early as July and as late as September.
Cucumbers perform best when they are planted outdoors. If you need to begin production early, however, plant your seeds indoors no more than 3–4 weeks out from transplanting. This will allow you to move the seedlings before their roots take hold, preventing shock to the root system.
Plant a few seeds per cell and keep temperatures in the 60–80 degree range. When moving your Suyo Long plants outdoors, use compost and fertilizer liberally. Gradually increase exposure to sunlight, and water consistently to prevent any deformities.
Suyo Long cucumbers reach maturity around July and August, and sometimes up until mid-September. They are usually ready to pick once they measure 10”–12” long or once their skin has become ribbed.
Keep in mind that Suyo Long cucumbers need to be harvested quickly once they have ripened. If they are left on the vine and turn a shade of yellow, the plant may stop producing fruit entirely.
Where to Buy Suyo Long Cucumbers
Because most supermarkets are stocked with American and European varieties, Suyo Long may not be available at your local grocery. If you can’t spot Suyo Long at a nearby farmers market, you may need to grow your own.
Fortunately, seeds are easy to find and purchase online. True Leaf Market sells Suyo Long cucumber seeds!
Wrapping Up Suyo Long Cucumbers
Ready to try Suyo Long cucumbers in your next salad or chilled soup? If you plan to grow them in your home garden, these sweet, burpless cucumbers are worth the wait.
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!