How to Get Rid of Bitterness in Cucumbers: Causes and Proven Methods

Cucurbitacin is a natural compound whose concentration in cucumbers varies depending on the conditions of growth and development of the crop. High temperatures destroy it, so bitter cucumbers can safely be canned. With fresh vegetables, it is optimal to peel them to get rid of the bitterness.

What cucumbers lack, if they are bitter – the causes

As we said, the culprit of bitterness in cucumbers is the substance cucurbitacin, which accumulates in the leaves and then spreads throughout the vegetable. This substance is toxic, which is why, centuries ago, people considered cucumbers poisonous and did not eat them. Now the concentration of cucurbitacin in this crop is safe for health and only affects taste.

There may be several reasons for the increased concentration of cucurbitacin in cucumbers:

  • lack of moisture;
  • heat;
  • sudden changes in temperature outside;
  • clay or sandy soil;
  • pests;
  • improperly selected fertilizers.

Experienced gardeners believe that most often bitter cucumbers grow from the seeds of bitter cucumbers, so when planting it is better to choose varieties that are resistant to bitterness. The second point is that it is important to observe the timing of sowing cucumbers. If you ignored these rules and planted the crop on a bad day or in the scorching sun, you will most likely end up with a bitter crop.

You can fight cucumber bitterness while they are growing in the bed – to do this, water the crop with warm water on a sunny day to avoid temperature fluctuations. You should also treat the plants regularly to protect them from pests, and apply the right fertilizer.

Can you eat bitter cucumbers and what to do with them

If you bought vegetables at the market or in the store, and they turned out to be bitter, there is an opportunity to correct the situation. Cut off the skin and leave only the flesh – it is usually not bitter. If the rule is broken and the cucumber is bitter all over, then sprinkle salt on the flesh or soak the cucumbers for 3 hours in warm water.

Any heat treatment also gets rid of the bitterness of cucumbers, so such vegetables can be used for canning or cooking. Some housewives use “failed” cucumbers for cosmetic procedures, making masks and baths with them, beating them with a blender to the consistency of puree.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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