By Kerri Conan
These are the best field cucumbers ever. Fighting words to be sure. But after growing lemon, Armenian, bush champion, sweet marketmore, and Mideast prolific Sean and I know what we like. And this summer we’re high on Poona Kheera.
The pulp-to-flesh ratio is not too important to us, since we remove the seeds before eating anyway. Overall crispness is way more valuable. And any cuke that keeps cranking all summer long—despite the heat, the beetles, and the threat of disease—will be our BCF. The Poona (which comes from India) fires on all cylinders: You can eat them when they’re pickler-size or when they grow to over a pound. The flavor is clean and slightly sweet (like limestone spring water) and the texture is super crunchy. So they’re a lot like eating melons.
And Poonas have ugly-duckling appeal. They start out chartreuse, then turn yellow, and finally brown; their skins crackle and turn the color of paper bags when fully mature.
The vines just conked out a few days ago, but the veggie bin in the fridge is still loaded. We’ve been eating them plain with a sprinkle of sea salt. Sometimes we add splash of balsamic or rice vinegar. Last Saturday I combined them with an under-ripe swan lake melon and a judicious amount of habanero for a bracing taco salsa. I’m so confident about the crispness of our PKs, I even cut them into spears and put them up as shiso-pickles. We’ll crack open a jar on Thanksgiving and will report back. In the meantime we’re in fresh cucumbers for at least another couple weeks. That’s an all-time record by a mile.