The Q&A Archives: Bitter Cucumbers

Question: We picked our first cucumber today and it was horribly bitter. What have we done wrong? Did we pick it too soon or watering problems?

Answer: Cucurbitacin B and Cucurbitacin C are the names of the compounds which cause bitterness in cucumbers. These compounds are found in all plant parts, but are concentrated in the stem end of the fruit. There is some in the blossom end, as well. Different varieties of cucumbers seem to contain more bitterness than others. You can cut off the ends to remove the bulk of the bitterness, but there will still be some under the skin of the cuke. Some people believe that if they peel a cucumber from the stem end to the blossom end, they'll remove more of the bitterness. There have been scientific studies, and the direction of peeling doesn't really make any difference in the amount of bitterness in a cucumber.

Fluctuating soil moisture may contribute to bitterness in your cukes, so be sure to water regularly and deeply while the fruit is developing.

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