Whether you want an attractive dish, or just want to slightly alter the taste of the vegetable, scoring a cucumber is simple to do. Scoring consists of cutting shallow lines in the vegetable. Cucumber skin can have a slightly bitter taste that may overwhelm the mellow flavor of the flesh. Removing some skin helps you retain some of the flavor and vitamins found in it without drowning out the mild cucumber taste. Removing the dark green skin also reveals the light flesh, which creates an appealing contrast. From stripes to smiley faces, it’s the tool you use and how you use it that determines the resulting look.
You can use anything relatively sharp to score a cucumber. However, the handiest tools are a fork, for thin lines; a knife, for thicker lines and precise shapes; and a vegetable peeler, for the thickest lines. Scoring a cucumber with a fork adds a decorative edge, but doesn’t remove enough skin to alter the taste. Scoring the cucumber with a knife or peeler tends to remove enough skin to slightly lessen the bitter flavor of the peel in the overall dish. Whatever you use, scoring involves cutting lightly into the cucumber and dragging the cutting tool across the skin.
Draw the Line
The most common way to score a cucumber is to create thin lines down the length of the vegetable. This way, the scored lines show up as a stripe pattern whether the cucumber is sliced or speared. Making long straight cuts is also easier than making cuts around the width of the cucumber. Scoring a cucumber around the width leaves a uniform pattern when cubing or spearing the vegetable, but can result in an uneven pattern if the vegetable is sliced.
Cross the Line
Cross-scoring cuts the cucumber with a square or diamond pattern. Score the cucumber vertically, and then horizontally, to create a basic square pattern. Alternatively, score the cucumber at the left diagonal, 45 degrees to the left of the tip, to cut evenly spaced ribbons around the vegetable, and then score the cucumber at the opposite diagonal, 45 degrees to the right of the tip, to create a diamond pattern.
Circle the Line
Scoring circle patterns in a cucumber takes some practice, but it’s a relatively simple way to add pizzazz to the plain vegetable. Keep one prong of a fork in the same place as you move the remaining tongs around in a circle. This subtle shape works well for thick slices. Use a knife to cut small circles from the peel to make a vivid polka-dot pattern that works for small slices or thick chunks. Scrape large swirls from the peel with a peeler to decorate large chunks of cucumber, such as cucumber cups.
Shape the Line
Scoring specific shapes in a cucumber is possible with a little patience. However, it's very difficult to cut miniscule shapes in cucumber, so cutting the decorated vegetable into thin slices isn’t an option if you want your scoring to show. Stick with large slices, such as spears, so that there’s enough surface area to reveal the design. Use a knife to cut small petal shapes around a center spot to create a floral design on the cucumber. Use one tong of a fork to score small smiley faces around the vegetable.