Cucumbers and zucchini look remarkably the same to an untrained eye.
However, these vegetables are entirely different.
Let’s take a closer look at them to understand the differences between them.
- How Are Cucumbers Different from Zucchini?
- 1. They belong to different plant families.
- 2. They differ in physical appearance.
- 3. Their textures are different.
- 4. There are differences in their cross-section.
- 5. They grow differently in a vegetable patch.
- 6. Their flavor is different.
- 7. They are consumed differently.
- 8. Their nutritional value differs.
- 9. Their origins are different.
- 10. Different parts of them are edible.
How Are Cucumbers Different from Zucchini?
Cucumbers and zucchini are long, cylindrical, green vegetables.
While they look similar, they have different characteristics and uses.
Here are some of the ways in which cucumbers differ from zucchini.
1. They belong to different plant families.
Cucumbers and zucchini belong to different plant families.
Zucchini are squashes, and they belong to the cucurbit family.
Other members of this family include pumpkins and summer squashes.
Meanwhile, cucumbers belong to the gourd family.
They belong to the same group as watermelons and snake gourds.
There are different varieties of both cucumbers and zucchini.
Nonetheless, all cucumbers are gourds, while zucchini are squashes.
2. They differ in physical appearance.
Some varieties of cucumbers and zucchini look very similar.
However, you can spot stark differences if you observe them closely.
One of the most prominent differences is the presence of woody stems in zucchini.
One end of a zucchini will always be brown and raised.
It may or may not have a yellow flower on the other side.
When present, the large golden flower is the plant’s female flower. These flowers are edible.
Meanwhile, cucumbers have a smooth rounded appearance on both sides. They don’t have any raised areas.
Both sides of the cucumbers look the same.
3. Their textures are different.
A cucumber is generally softer than a zucchini. You can touch the vegetables and differentiate between them easily.
Zucchini has thicker skin that doesn’t easily yield to touch. Meanwhile, cucumbers are hard when they are unripe.
However, it’s easier to press into cucumbers and even puncture the flesh compared to zucchini when it ripens.
Apart from this, a cucumber has a cool and waxy surface. The skin of a zucchini is hard and less-yielding.
It feels rough and dry to the touch.
You will find that the surface of a zucchini is grainy.
It isn’t as smooth as cucumbers when you run your fingers along the skin.
Depending on the variety, cucumbers may have smooth or bumpy skin.
4. There are differences in their cross-section.
While cucumbers and zucchini resemble each other on the outside, they look entirely different on the inside.
Both vegetables have creamy white flesh. However, the flesh of zucchinis is whiter than cucumbers.
A cucumber’s flesh always has a green tinge. The flesh is darker when it’s raw.
As a cucumber ripens, the color of the flesh becomes lighter.
Nevertheless, it will still be greener than a zucchini.
Another factor that will help you identify whether a vegetable is a zucchini or a cucumber is the positioning of the seeds.
The seeds in zucchini blend into the flesh. So it doesn’t look too seedy when you cut it open.
However, cucumbers are very seedy. You will see a clear line of seeds running along the center in a cross-section.
Related Reading: 8 Simple Tips to Store Cut Cucumber Properly
5. They grow differently in a vegetable patch.
Both zucchinis and cucumbers grow on vines. They are dark green and look similar.
However, you can identify if you are looking at a cucumber or zucchini by observing their plants.
The shape of the leaves of both plants is heart-shaped. However, cucumbers vine out and spread all over the space.
The fruits hang from the vines, and they ripen and grow with age.
Cucumbers hang off their vines just like grapes hang off.
However, zucchini grows differently. In this case, the vegetables look like they are growing out of the stems.
Zucchini plants tend to grow into bushes. They don’t vine out or spread too far.
The fruits don’t hang down, but they look like they are stuck to the plant.
It’s important to harvest zucchini at the right stage.
If you leave them on the plant for too long, they will become big and seedy.
They lose their flavor when left on the plant for too long.
Related Reading: 15 Cucumbers that Climb While Growing
6. Their flavor is different.
Zucchini and cucumbers taste different whether you eat them raw or cook them.
Both are juicy vegetables with high moisture content. However, cucumbers are cool and crunchy.
They are mostly eaten raw. They have a distinct bite and are refreshingly cool.
Meanwhile, zucchinis are creamier. The flesh is soft and lacks the crunch of cucumbers.
Additionally, zucchini may taste bland or bitter depending on the stage you harvest them.
They are seldom eaten raw. Zucchini is generally used for cooking.
7. They are consumed differently.
Cucumbers taste best when they are fresh. You can eat them raw when they are still green.
They are usually added to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes where they are used raw.
Cucumbers are also used to make pickles and relish.
Baby cucumbers are pickled in brine solutions of salt and vinegar.
Large cucumbers may also be sliced and added to brine solutions for pickling.
These can later be eaten raw or added to salads, wraps, and sandwiches.
Another way to use cucumber is in cucumber water which is widely used as a detox drink.
The distinct flavors of zucchini don’t make them a good choice for raw eating.
They are rarely eaten raw or added to salads or wraps.
However, the creamy flesh of zucchini absorbs flavors well. Hence, this vegetable is widely used for cooking.
Zucchinis are commonly used in casseroles, curries, and other recipes, where they are cooked in sauce or gravy.
Zucchini is also used for baking and making zucchini pasta.
It’s one of the best vegetables that works with a spiralizer.
8. Their nutritional value differs.
Both zucchini and cucumbers are low in calories.
One serving of 100g of zucchini has 17 calories, while cucumber has 15 calories.
Cucumber is often consumed without the skin, in which case the calorific value further drops to 12 calories.
Cucumbers are a rich source of fiber and roughage. Hence, they are widely used to make salads.
Meanwhile, zucchini is rich in minerals and vitamins like Vitamin C. It also provides Vitamin B6.
Both vegetables have a high moisture content.
They are 95% water and don’t contain more than 2% of any vitamins or minerals.
9. Their origins are different.
Cucumbers were first reported to be growing in India and China. They grow well in warm and humid climates.
These vegetables are now commercially cultivated all over the world.
Zucchini is supposed to have Italian origins. The name “zucchini” also has an Italian link.
However, these plants reached the United States in the 1900s.
Since then, they have been grown commercially all over the country.
They are also called courgettes in some places.
10. Different parts of them are edible.
In both cucumbers and zucchinis, the main edible part is the fruit.
However, zucchini also produces large golden blossoms that can be eaten.
The flowers of zucchini are a delicacy. You can eat them raw.
These flowers appear at the rear end of the fruit.
When present, the fruit is usually harvested with the flower and sold together.
Cucumber plants also produce bright yellow flowers. These are usually smaller than those produced by zucchini plants.
However, the flowers of cucumbers are inedible. They usually fall off and are rarely harvested.