Reason Behind Cucumbers Bitterness

Reason Behind Cucumbers Bitterness
Reason Behind Cucumbers Bitterness | image source: Adrienne Legault

Rare is the gardener who hasn’t grown a cucumber that was bitter and questioned why few things are as annoying as spending the entire season caring to your vegetables, only to discover when you finally harvest them that they don’t taste very good. It’s well known that cucumbers produce abundantly, even to an extreme. But if the cucumbers aren’t delicious, what good is a cornucopia of them?

Cucurbitacin, a chemical found in other gourds like zucchini, is the actual reason of the bitterness in cucumbers. Cucumbers always contain it, however the amounts vary depending on how the crops are raised. The cucumber will taste more bitter the more cucurbitacin it has.

Cucurbitacin, a chemical found in other gourds like zucchini, is the actual reason of the bitterness in cucumbers. Cucumbers always contain it, however the amounts vary depending on how the crops are raised. The cucumber will taste more bitter the more cucurbitacin it has.


Can I eat a cucumber that is just a little bit bitter? It should be fine if the cucumber has a slightly bitter flavor (and read the following tips on how to improve the taste). Toss the cucumber if it is extremely bitter and nearly inedible since the increased number of bitter-causing components in the vegetable could induce severe indigestion.

Cause of Cucumbers Bitterness

Cucurbitacin B and Cucurbitacin C, substances that are believed to make cucumber leaves bitter and less appetizing to chewing animals, are present in all cultivated cucumbers. We are typically unaware of the presence of these compounds since they are typically restricted to plant components humans do not eat, such as the leaves and stems. We don’t first taste anything bitter until they enter the fruits. Typically, only a portion of the fruit becomes bitter. The area directly under the skin and the stem end are more frequently where the bitterness will be focused.

Prevention of Bitter Cucumbers

Although there is still some debate on the reason why the bitterness spreads to the fruits, it appears to be related to different kinds of stress experienced by the cucumbers as they mature. Therefore, even though the issue cannot be resolved after the fact, we may try to prevent the three developing situations listed below that may be to blame for bitter cucumbers.

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Dry Conditions:

Long stretches of hot, dry weather can make cucumbers more bitter. To prevent your cucumbers from becoming bitter, keep them well-watered. Give them a thorough soak every week in at least an inch of water, more in times of extreme dryness. Add drip irrigation if you want to make sure the plants get enough moisture consistently.

Insert your index finger about an inch into the ground. If you notice that soil is wet don’t apply water at the moment. It’s time to drink if the earth is dry. When temps rise, add mulch to the area around the roots to help retain moisture and prevent weeds. Consider adding a shade cloth when the temperature reaches the mid-90s to provide the plants filtered light throughout the hottest part of the growing season. High temperatures strain plants, which promotes bitterness.

Lean Soil:

Leaky soil and a general deficiency of nutrients are additional causes of bitter cucumbers. Since cucumbers require a lot of food, soil that is rich in organic matter will help the plant grow healthier, more flavorful cucumbers. When making beds, add compost; later, side-dress the plants all through the growth season. Give your cucumbers balanced fertilizer every four to six weeks if your soil is less than optimum. On order to help immature plants avoid stress brought on by cool soil, consider planting cucumbers in raised beds or mounds. Both choices allow the earth to warm up earlier in the season. Less stress is equal less bitterness.

Too Much Competition:

Cucumbers are heavy feeders, therefore they detest competition for water and nutrients from weeds or other cucumber plants. When planting cucumber seeds in the spring, keep the bed free of weeds and leave adequate space between each cucumber plant. Place caged or trellised cucumbers 8 to 12 inches apart, and space mounded plants 3 feet apart. Well-spaced cucumbers typically avoid bitterness because they have enough of area to grow and access to nutrients.

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Lack of Sun:

Due to the lack of sun, overcast regions, such as the Pacific Northwest, have reported bitter cucumbers. Again, you have no control over how long the sun will shine, but you may place your plants where they will receive as much sun as the environment will allow. Growing your cucumbers under cover, as in a polytunnel, will increase the heat and light that is available if the weather is cool, damp, and cloudy. Unless you live in an extremely warm climate, avoid planting cucumbers in areas that will be shaded by taller crops in the garden. A little afternoon shade may help prevent bitterness during the hottest days.

Because of this, even though cucumber plants can produce a large amount of fruit from a small number of plants, you must give them ideal growing conditions, such as lots of sunshine, frequent watering, and rich soil, in order to ensure both quality and quantity.
Additionally, search for types that are non-bitter and appropriate for your region. Among the most dependable cultivars are Marketmore 97, Diva, Eversweet (any variety with the word sweet in the name), Long Green Improved, and the heritage Lemon.


The key to cultivating healthy, fruitful cucumber plants, as with all plants, edible or not, is to learn what growing circumstances the plant prefers and do your best to offer them. Even a short period of stress can have negative effects. While ornamental plants will probably grow back, with cucumbers and other edible plants, you only get one chance to get it right. That is why picking your growing location and edible varieties should be carefully considered.

Use of Bitter Bitter Cucumbers

Do not immediately grab for the compost pail if you have bitter cucumbers. The fruit’s flavor should be enhanced by peeling it. Taste the stem end after cutting off the first inch or two. If it’s still bitter, try slicing the cucumber toward the center to see if it tastes sweeter. More than enough should still be available for a salad.
Take the steps outlined above as soon as you see a bitter cucumber to protect the remainder of your crop from the same fate.

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TINOLOADED is an online platform where the founder "Ali Kenneth" shares to you "Garden Care Made Easy" tips which helps you Keep Your Garden Healthy and Beautiful All Year Round. Garden Equipment For Houseplants, Landscaping, etc.

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