By: Amy Grant
Cucumbers are fairly easy to grow and depending upon the variety, a staple in salads or a must have for pickling. The types of cucumbers found in the grocery store have thin palatable skins, but sometimes those grown in the garden have cucumber skin that is tough.
What makes cucumber skins tough? A tough cucumber skin is most likely the result of the variety of cucumber being grown. Of course, if the cucumber skin is too hard, it can always be peeled; but if you would rather grow fruit without a tough cucumber peel, keep reading.
What Makes Cucumber Skins Tough?
Cucumbers grown for eating fresh from the garden are of two kinds. There are cukes suited for growing in the greenhouse and those that are more suitable for growing outdoors. Cucumbers that are meant to be grown outside are called ‘ridge cucumbers.’
Ridge cucumbers tolerate cooler temperatures and are often spiny or bumpy, hence they have a tough cucumber skin. If you dislike that tough cucumber peel, then try growing greenhouse varieties. These are the types of cucumber found at the grocers and have a thin, smooth skin.
Another Reason for Tough Cucumber Skin
If you have cucumber skin that is tough, yet another reason may be that the fruit has been left on the vine too long. Cucumbers that are left to grow larger will have tougher skin. Just because the cucumber skin is too hard doesn’t mean the fruit is lacking in any way, however. If the cucumber skin is too hard for you, simply peel and enjoy the delicious fruit inside.
The exception to this is pickling cucumbers. If they are left to grow large, they become increasingly bitter, not to mention their unpleasantly tough cucumber peel. In the case of pickling cucumbers, bigger isn’t better!
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How to Avoid the Problem of Bitter Cucumbers
If you have ever bitten into a bitter cucumber, you know it’s not something you want to do again. If you grow your own cukes, a few simple techniques will help you avoid bitter fruit.
Why Cucumbers Taste Bitter
Cucumbers contain the natural compound cucurbitacin, which causes bitterness. Bitterness varies by variety of cucumber and by temperatures during the growing season.
Uneven watering increases bitterness, as does cool weather. Fertilization, plant spacing, and watering may also affect bitterness, although plant scientists have not found consistent cause and effect.
Growing Great Cucumbers
Plant cucumber varieties that are less bitter. Studies in eastern Washington State found that Burpee Pickler produces four times as much bitter fruit as National Pickling.
Plant cucumbers in warm soil in warm, sunny locations. Since misshapen fruit tend to be more bitter, and uneven watering contributes to misshapen fruit, it’s important to provide adequate and consistent irrigation.
Mulching helps maintain even soil moisture. Inadequate nutrient levels also contribute to uneven growth, so ample fertilization can help prevent bitterness. A soil test can provide guidance on the fertilizer and amendments your soil needs.
Peel Away the Cucumber Bitterness
Bitterness varies in the different parts of a cucumber. The stem end, the peel, and the light green area just under the peel have higher concentrations of the bitter compound than the interior flesh. While not everyone agrees about this, some gardeners say you can peel away the bitterness this way:
* Start at the blossom end of the fruit.
* Slice off one strip of peel, stopping about one inch from the stem end.
* Wash the knife, then continue slicing off strips until the cuke is completely peeled.
* Wash the knife again before cutting up the cucumber.
Want to learn more about preventing bitter cucumbers?
The following extension websites have excellent information about bitterness in cucumbers and how to prevent it. Since local growing conditions affect bitterness, it’s a good idea to check with your extension service about the best varieties and growing methods for your area.
Cucumber Bitterness Explained from Oregon State University Extension Service
Creative Commons Flickr photo courtesy of David Davies
Will canned bitter cucumbers still taste bitter and is this healthy to eat ?
Shirley Darby says
The bitterness will remain no matter what. The biutter cucumber isn’t dangerous, although inedible because of the bitterness.
Elaine Boyle says
As a child I was taught to rub the cucumber when the first slice was made, seals in the sweetness, try it found it works
Janet C. says
I have a ton of cucumbers and this worked great…thank you…
Using stainless adds to bitterness…use ceramic bladed knives help…also helps to keep food from turning as fast using ceramic blades….just so you know
Janet C. says
yes this worked great…I used my ceramic knife and viola…no bitter cucumbers…thank you…
Laird M Leverenz says
Bill Scudero says
Try growing “Lemon Cucumbers”. they grow to about softball size, are very sweet and never bitter. They pickle great and always are crunchy and sweet. The only drawback is that they do not last but 2 days in the fridge before they start drying out. The skin is more edible than regular cucumbers. My kids pick them and eat them, after washing, right from the vine. Theya re a great novelty when given away to frinds and family. The vines continue to provide cucumbers later into the year than regular cucs. You can order them online.
Never bitter? Hogwash. They are the reason I’m here. The bitterness increases as the season progresses. Also, the yellow lemon cukes tend to be more bitter.
My cucumbers are sunburning…my armenian cucumbers hold up much better to this central california heat. Less seeds if i harvest them when they are smaller.
Duke G Collins says
Fewer seeds….not less seeds.
All cucumber-melons (melons picked immature as cucumbers) hold up better in the heat. However, the texture and juiciness vary depending upon variety. The light Armenian are some of the most hard and crunchy (like a hard carrot) unless you pick them earlier. Then they are tender but often dry.
Many carosello remain juicy and crisp yet tender much longer than Armenian cucumbers.
Cut an end off cucumber rub two pieces of cuke together in circular motion. It will foam. Do this till it stops. Rinse in cool water. Repeat at other end.
This was tested at a university. It is proven to work.
Shirley Darby says
I hope I remember this when I have cucumbers this summer!
Yes, you have to “milk” the cucumber to get the bitterness out. Funny, I have never found anyone who knows this little trick
Anne Wong says
Funnily enough, Chinese people do this with cucumbers. Perhaps not so much now that cucs are better and one doesn’t encounter butter cucs as often.
Shelia Jestes says
I’m with Marie, My dad showed us how to take the bitterness away by rubbing the the ends together. This was back in the 60’s. I never have bitter cucumbers. Really works.
Debby is right! Regular cucumber varieties will become bitter when exposed to hot dry conditions. Cucumber-melon varieties have always solved this problem for me. In my experience, Carosello and Armenian cucumbers are always bitter-free and burpless (don’t cause indigestion). They also tend to grow faster as the summer wears on.
Though there are other seed suppliers who may carry a few of these cucumber types, Cucumbershop.com tends to have some of the most varieties at a very reasonable price.
Dear friends. In surinam we used to take away the bitterness out of the cucumber by slicing off the top where the fruit was attached to the plant. About 2cm thick. Don’t peel the ccumber yet! than start rubbing the top that you cut off over de cucumber (the other open side where you just cut off the top). As you rub in rounds you will notice that a white substance is creating between the two sides where you cut the ccumber. The more you rub the more white foam will appear. You can taste the white foam: it is bitter. Rubbing about a 1/2 minute is enough. Cut again the top with the white foam. If you slice the ccumber and you find it still bitter than you can peel it. But i’m sure the bitterness is gone now after ‘foaming” :). Succes and kind regards.
To get rid of the bitterness, cut off the stem end, then take that piece and rub it in a circular motion against the place it was just cut off of – you will see a white foam start to appear. I do this for 30 seconds or do- then throw stem piece away and take another slim slice off the cucumber, the only white foam is the bitter being drawn out
Rita Roberts says
So glad to have the advice.Before this year I was never troubled with bitter cucumbers and have been putting them in the compost!!what a waste.
I grew up using the method of rubbing the cucumber end to get the bitter out. My grandmother taught my Mom and she taught me! But a couple of years in a row I grew cukes so bitter that this method didn’t even work! So then I tried something I had read about: growing sunflowers and cukes together! It worked! I kept the lower leaves of the sunflowers trimmed so the cukes got the sun they needed and we have been getting lots of sweetness and no bitter!
I have found that if you completely peel the cucumber and sprinkle salt on it then rub the salt with both hands it will ‘sweat ‘ the bitterness out. This only takes seconds on each but will remove bitterness.
Barefoot Emmy says
I recently had a disappointing experience with a bitter cucumber, and wondered if salting it would work like it does with eggplant. Thanks!
Sheila Anderson says
I have thrown away a ton of bitter cumbersome in my life time. . Thank for all the info. I will plant them again this spring after several years hiatus.
1. Increases Urination
Cucumbers are natural diuretics. 2 It means they encourage urine production. When consumed in moderation, they are helpful in fighting fluid retention. However, you should also be aware of the symptoms of excess cucumber intake, such as dehydration due to the excess loss of body water. Talk to your doctor, if you experience these symptoms when you use cucumber medicinally. 3
If you are pregnant, you know what it means to have diuretics in your diet. Cucumbers are mild enough to use safely during pregnancy. One or two servings a day will not do any harm. 4 However, unrestricted consumption of cucumbers may increase your visits to restrooms.
Is Cucumber a Fruit or a Vegetable?
In a supreme court case in 1983 (Nix vs hedden), it was deemed that cucumber was to be legally categorized and taxed as a vegetable. The supreme court made this decision based on the usage of cucumbers, which was similar to that of vegetables such as: carrots, potatoes, parsnips, cauliflowers, cabbage, lettuce, beets, and celery.
But is it really a vegetable, or is cucumber a fruit? Cucumbers fit the typical definition of a fruit meaning that they develop when the flower is fertilized and also contain the seeds of the plant. Cucumbers are even part of the same genus (cucumus) as Cantaloupes which are definitely a fruit. However, according the supreme court in 1983, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other "fruits of the vine" that are grown in kitchen gardens and used in main courses in meals, rather than in desserts as fruit are, are to be considered vegetables.
Dry and peeling
The skin around nails peeling off due to:
Various form of allergic substances can stimulate various serious skin reaction. Exposure to nail polish, use of too much soapy water, being allergic to nickel and latex or irritation caused by solvents and detergents can all cause peeling fingernails.
A low-level chronic infection, which is usually caused by the moisture of yeast, can lead to the peeling of skin around the cuticle.
Cucumber Remedies for the Skin and Hair
Cucumbers are not only a healthy addition to your diet, but they also have a string of surprising uses around the home and garden, and you can learn more about those here. This great vegetable has one other skill that needs sharing though because it is also extremely beneficial for your skin and hair - especially when used alongside some other basic ingredients you can find in your kitchen.
This list runs through 10 great skin and hair care remedies you can easily make at home using a humble cucumber. And yes, they are entirely appropriate for both sexes, so there is no excuse for the men out there not to look after their skin too!
1. Cucumber Eye Brightener
We might as well start off with the most obvious use of cucumbers for skin care. We have all seen people put slices of cucumber over their eyes, but it's no pointless practice. The phytochemicals in cucumbers help collagen tighten and reduces puffiness, while cucumbers also encourage a subtle, skin lightening effect to reduce dark circles.
For best results, apply the cucumber when its cold (so straight from the refrigerator) and cut thick slices, and place them over your closed eyes for 10 - 15 minutes. As it's a completely natural process and chemical free, you can repeat the process as often as you like!
2. A Cucumber Skin Toner
Many people ignore toners as part of their skincare regime, but toning can have major benefits for your skin. Toners help soothe and tighten the skin and close open pores so that dirt and grime cannot enter. This cucumber-based toner is great at calming and tightening your skin, especially as you get older. Simply use:
• ½ a chopped cucumber, with the skin
• 3 tablespoons of witch hazel
• 2 tablespoons of distilled water
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture through a sieve to remove any remaining solids and then transfer the toner to a clean container with an air-tight lid. The mixture will last for several weeks, and you can apply it to your skin daily using cotton balls or pads.
3. Oily Skin Remedy
If you suffer from oily skin, you may well find yourself prone to blemishes and spots. This mixture uses a few natural ingredients to create an oil-eliminating mask. You will need:
• Equal parts turmeric and cucumber juice
• A couple of squeezes of lemon
Mix the ingredients together and then apply directly to the face. Leave for 15 minutes before rinsing off. Repeat as regularly as necessary.
4. A Cucumber Rejuvenator
Cucumber is fantastic at rejuvenating tired skin and improving a damaged complexion. In many ways, this is the very best use of cucumber as a skin care product. This mixture could not be simpler. You will need:
• The juice of one whole cucumber (blended or processed)
• A few drops of lemon juice
Apply the mixture directly to your face and try to leave it there for a good amount of time before washing off. You should find that you have a smoother complexion and added glow. Repeat regularly for best results.
5. Refreshing Cucumber Skin Tonic
Cucumbers contain numerous properties that can help give your skin a lift when it is feeling lifeless, or increasingly damaged by the rigors of the modern day world. This remedy provides an instant tonic for your skin:
• Chop one cucumber and puree it in a blender with 4 tablespoons of mint
• Strain and sieve out the juice, and place it in a clean, sealed container
• Apply to the skin as soon as the mixture is cool
• The remedy will stay fresh for up to 24 hours
6. Cucumber Cellulite Fighting Scrub
Cucumber mixed with a natural, mild abrasive and a gentler, soothing product can help strengthen areas of skin prone to cellulite build-up. That's why this recipe works so well:
• Juice a whole cucumber and strain away most of the remaining solids
• Mix with coffee granules and honey to create the scrub
• Scrub cellulite prone areas thoroughly, rinse off after use and moisturize
7. Cooling Summer Bath Oil
During warmer months, you might not fancy a piping hot, steamy bath. But your skin will definitely need to be revitalized after spending so much time in the heat of the sun. This mixture is just what the doctor ordered:
• Fill a bath with warm water (not too hot)
• Add 2 cucumber (sliced), 5 sprigs of peppermint and 2 cups of Epsom Salt
• Get in, soak and relax
• As an added bonus, aromas released by the mint and cucumber will also help you de-stress after a hard day
8. Cu cumber Hair Conditioner
If you enjoy swimming, you will be aware of the damaging effects that chlorine can have on your hair over time. You should also know that cucumber has widely accepted powers that work wonders to re-condition damaged hair. You will need:
• ¼ cucumber (peeled)
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 egg
Don't juice the cucumber this time, pop it in the blender with the egg and olive oil and give it a blast until it turns into a thin paste. Spread the resulting mixture evenly and smoothly throughout the damaged hair and leave it on for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly before drying. If you are a regular swimmer, repeat this treatment at least once a month.
9. Cucumber-Avocado Moisturizing Face Mask
There are good reasons why both cucumbers and avocados are used in a variety of skin care products. This face mask allows you to harness the power of both ingredients for fantastic results! You will need:
• ½ cup chopped cucumber
• ½ cup chopped avocado
• 1 egg white
• 2 teaspoons of powdered milk
Whizz all the ingredients through a blender until they take on the consistency of a smooth paste. You can apply the mask immediately but may achieve better results if you put it in the fridge for half an hour before using. Massage the mixture on to your face using smooth circular motions. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes, until it dries, and then rinse off.
10. Cucumber Treatment for Combination Skin
Cucumber combined with plain yogurt provides a great solution for people who have separate patches of dry and oily skin on different parts of their face. It's really easy too, just take:
• ½ cucumber
• 1 tablespoon of plain natural yogurt
Puree the cucumber in a blender and then mix in the yogurt. Massage onto the face and neck, and leave the mixture on for 20 minutes while relaxing. Rinse off with warm water, before splashing yourself with cold water. Your skin will feel smooth and replenished.
Try out some of these great remedies and see what a difference they make. Aren't cucumbers fantastic?