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Cucumis sativus, the cultivated cucumber (literally, the Latin means the “sown cucumber”)*, is a stealth vegetable, common worldwide, barely noticed anywhere. Mostly water, mild and grassy in taste, the cucumber can be and often is eaten raw. Anyone looking for a fresh vegetable in Germany will have gratefully discovered cucumber salad, Gurkensalat, an omnipresent first course on simple menus.

All three recipes are for uncooked cucumbers (unless you count the hot water bath for the pickles as cooking). The trick is to leach out as much of the water from them as possible (for the pickles, which are meant to be preserved without desiccation, the brine infiltrates the flesh and stabilizes it through the benign action of bacteria that can survive in a salty medium that suppresses the bad microbes, which would otherwise rot an untreated cuke).