Long and green, both belonging to the gourd family - sometimes it can be difficult to tell zucchini and cucumber apart. Today, I'm sharing all the similarities and differences between the two.
Ever wondered what the difference is between zucchini and cucumber? Today, we're going to find out.
Zucchini and cucumber, from afar, share a lot of similarities. They're both long and green, and are frequently confused with one another, especially when placed side by side at the grocery store.
While they're treated as vegetables, did you know that both cucumber and zucchini are actually considered fruit? They are both developed from the flower of the plant, which means they are both fruits.
What is zucchini?
Long, cylindrical and green, with smooth skin and a woody stem, zucchini usually has a speckled dark green skin and pale, almost white flesh in side. However, zucchini can have bold stripes (like cocozelle zucchini), which helps set them apart from cucumbers.
Zucchini is a summer squash that is grown and harvested young, while the skin and flesh are still soft.
What does zucchini taste like?
Zucchini has a mild flavor, with an earthy outer skin and a mild, slightly sweet flesh. If a zucchini is overripe, it can taste bitter. When cooked, zucchini can add a mild "green" flavor to dishes like stews and casseroles.
Zucchini is popular when shredded and baked into recipes like zucchini bread because it doesn't add any noticeable flavor. It also adds structure and moisture, which can help reduce higher calorie ingredients, like oil and eggs.
What is cucumber?
Long, cylindrical, and green, cucumber often has a bumpy skin (although some varieties can be smooth) and pale green flesh inside. Most cucumber has dark green skin, and some have faint striping running the length of the fruit.
Cucumber is grown on a vine and comes in three main varieties - pickling, seedless, and slicing.
What does cucumber taste like?
Cucumber has a mild, slightly sweet "melon" flavor that's often described as crisp, cool, and refreshing. This crisp melon scent is much more obvious than that of a zucchini - a major hint that you have a cucumber on hand.
Often eaten raw, cucumber is popular when pickled or tossed into summer salads for a light, refreshing flavor.
Similarities and differences
- Zucchini is long and cylindrical, with a woody stem and smooth speckled green skin. The flesh inside is a pale off-white color with a velvety texture, and the seeds blend in with the flesh.
- Cucumber is long and cylindrical, with bumpy dark green skin (and sometimes faint green striping). The flesh inside is pale green with a more obvious cluster of seeds visible in the center.
- Zucchini has a mild, earthy, "green" flavor that can be hard to detect when paired with stronger flavors.
- Cucumber has a crisp, refreshing, cool "melon" flavor. This is the most obvious sign that you have a cucumber on hand, not a zucchini.
- Use in cooking:
- Zucchini is usually cooked into stews, casseroles, or bread. However, zucchini can be eaten raw or pickled, like cucumbers (although it's less common).
- Cucumber is almost always eaten raw. They're either tossed in a salad, pickled, or added to a pitcher of water for a refreshing flavor.
- Zucchini is high in fiber, Vitamin A, antioxidants, and potassium. There are 17 calories in 100 grams of zucchini.
- Cucumber is high in fiber, Vitamin K, and antioxidants. There are 15 calories in 100 grams of cucumber.
Can I substitute zucchini for cucumber? (and vice versa)
This is a difficult question because it depends on the recipe. I highly recommend reading the notes on the recipe to find substitutions suggested by the author. Or, try hitting up google to look for a recipe you can use without making substitutions.
In a savory salad - Raw zucchini and cucumber are likely interchangeable here. Take my summer vegetable pasta salad, for example. Both zucchini and cucumber would work well in this recipe.
In zucchini bread (or other baked goods) - I do not recommend using cucumber in place of zucchini in any baking recipe. Zucchini is popular in baked goods (like bread, muffins, and cookies) because it has a mild flavor that can't be detected after baking. Cucumber has a much stronger fresh "melon" flavor that would be overpowering in most baking recipes.
In pickle recipes - You can pickle both cucumber and zucchini. Try my recipe for refrigerator dill zucchini pickles! However, I'd recommend searching out a recipe for the vegetable you'd like to pickle instead of making substitutions, just in case.