If you’re familiar with Hendrick’s, then you’re likely familiar with the brand’s affinity for cucumbers. A cucumber is often the perfect garnish for a Hendrick’s G&T due to how it brings out the flavor in the gin, so perfect that the brand can sometimes be seen at events in “The Grand Garnisher,” a truck-sized bike-powered device that cuts up cucumbers to make them cocktail ready.
Today Hendrick’s is taking that love of cucumber a step further by offering a “Curious Cucumber Collection” from Farmer Jones Farm, highlighting some of the rarest cucumbers on the planet, some of which are near extinction. Cucumber enthusiasts can purchase limited-edition variety packs of the rare cucumbers for $48.
So, what are rare cucumbers? Hendrick’s Master Distiller Lesley Gracie worked with Professor Lenore Newman, PhD & Director of the Food and Agriculture Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley and one of North America’s foremost experts in agriculture to identify the species included. Seeds for each were sourced from around the planet and then cultivated in greenhouses across North America and Europe (although none from Cucumber Creek).
“As someone who has devoted my career to the discovery and preservation of rare fruits and vegetables, I can say with conviction that what Hendrick’s has done for these cucumbers is a tremendous scientific accomplishment,” said Newman “These seeds represent a microscopic amount of the global cucumber population and without this project, they remained in danger. It’s remarkable to see them restored to such great scale, and it’s such a joy for people to now be able to taste these marvelous fruits.”
If you want to taste them, here’s a rundown of the selection (what you get in a pack might vary based on harvest availability).
The Six Rare Cucumbers
● The highly curious Cucamelon (Melothria scabra) is cultivated as a minor crop in Mexico and Central America, and very rarely experienced elsewhere. Flavors are similar to a cucumber, yet sweeter and citrus-like, with an uncanny exterior resemblance to a mini-watermelon.
● Particularly unusual in appearance donning a peculiar mix of bright orange & green with horn-like spikes, the African Horned (Cucumis metuliferus) is a close relative of our beloved cucumber that primarily grows wild and in local gardens across southern Africa, carrying delightful notes of melon, kiwi, banana and citrus.
● The Hmong Red (Cucumis sativus) is grown by the Hmong people in intimate gardens adorning the mountains of Northern Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar, where upon maturation, this miraculous fruit transitions in color from a pale green to a golden orange, and offers a tart flavor.
● The Aonaga Jibai (Cucumis sativus), a treasured family gem from the island of Kyushu, Japan, can only be found in the quaint town of Beppu, where it’s known for its unusually long and narrow shape and splendidly sweet taste.
● Only found tucked away in the country of Bhutan, the Gagon Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is quite distinct – as it matures, it shifts from containing the characteristics of a common cucumber to marvelous honeydew.
● Generally unknown outside of Eastern Europe, the ancient Muromsky Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is oddly covered in black spikes and prized for its pleasant scent, crunchy texture, and punchy flavor.
“You could say I have a healthy obsession with cucumbers, they truly are quite fascinating fruits,” said Gracie. “When we were first developing Hendrick’s, experimenting with cucumbers and figuring out how to get that curious cooling sensation into a gin was a big moment in my career. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing so many diverse and wonderful varieties of cucumber in different parts of the world. The chance to cultivate some of the more peculiar styles on the brink of extinction has been an extremely fun and welcomed challenge.”
If you want to take a few of these cucumbers out for a spin in your next cocktail you can grab a kit from Farmer Jones Farm now.