Why Cucumbers Become Bitter
If you have ever come across a bitter-tasting cucumber, you know that it can spoil an entire dish. But why do some cucumbers become bitter while others don’t? And what should you do if you get a bitter one?
5-Minute Crafts has answers to each of these questions.
What makes cucumbers bitter
The compound that makes some cucumbers bitter is found naturally in every cucumber bush. There is more of it in wild cucumbers and less of it in domesticated versions. A significant amount of this substance (called cucurbitacin) is found in the stems and leaves of plants and protects them from being eaten by animals.
Since people don’t eat cucumber tops, they are unaware of its taste and only notice bitterness when it spreads to the vegetable.
Why some cucumbers are bitter and others are not
It is believed that the bitterness in cucumbers is caused by poor growing conditions:
- Dry weather and a lack of proper watering can increase cucurbitacin production in cucumbers. If you grow vegetables in your garden, make sure to moisturize and shade them properly.
- The lack of nutrition can also affect the taste of cucumbers. These vegetables are quite whimsical, and poor soil can negatively affect their taste, as well as high competition with other plants for resources.
When growing cucumbers, pay attention to their fertilization and proximity to other crops.
- The lack of light can also affect the taste of cucumbers. In order to minimize the chances of having them appear bitter, cucumbers should be grown in places with enough light.
What to do with bitter cucumbers
- Remove everything that has a bitter taste.
Oftentimes it’s the cucumbers stalk and peel that take on a bitter taste, not the whole vegetable. In order to remove the bitterness, cut off the bitter areas and use the rest of the cucumber for cooking.
- Try adding salt.
If you feel that the entire vegetable tastes bitter, try salting the cucumber. At low concentrations, salt reduces bitterness and makes the dish more neutral in taste.
- Add sugar.
Try adding sugar to bitter cucumbers to make their taste softer. This method can be used for cooking salads, sauces, and other dishes. You can also try to soak cucumbers for several hours in sugary water to allow the sugar remove the unpleasant bitterness. After that, wash the cucumbers with fresh water.
- Use marinade.
Vinegar-based marinades can also make bitter cucumbers taste better. It may take some time to marinate, but the result will definitely please you.
- Use ice.
Soak bitter cucumbers for 5 minutes in water with ice and you’ll soon notice that their taste has become much better.
- Cut off the ends and rub on the cucumber.
Cut off the stem or blossom end of the cucumber with a sharp knife and rub the end of the cucumber in a circular motion. Soon you will see a white foam-like substance emerging from the inside of the cucumber. Repeat the same from the other end. Wash the cucumber. it should now have much less bitterness.
❗ If you notice that all the cucumber pulp is very bitter, it is better to not use it.