Why are some cucumbers bitter? There are several reasons


Surely you know what we talk about. You love great juicy cucumbers of course, but when you bite into one you are in for a surprise. It tastes very bitter. Unfortunately, this is a quite common, especially with cucumbers grown in your own garden. Well, did you know that the “original” cucumbers, and that goes for practically all varieties, were bitter? What is actually the reason for that unpleasant bitterness and what is behind it? We shall give you answer in the following lines.

Substances called cucurbitaceins are to blame

You may be surprised but sweet-tasting cucumbers were only cultivated in the 60s of the last century. Before that, virtually all varieties were bitter due to cucurbitaceins. These substances still exist in cucumber plants, but not so much in the fruit… but you can still find a bitter one.

Why are cucurbitaceins created?

Well, it may sound rather funny, but cucurbitaceins are mainly created because the plant is exposed to stressful conditions. It is a kind of a defence mechanism the plant employs.But what kind of stressful situations can cucumbers be exposed to? Well, there are several of them:

  • big difference between day and night temperatures,
  • unbalanced or irregular watering,
  • cross-breeding with other plants belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family,
  • incorrect cultivation from own seeds,
  • overripe cucumbers.

Are cucurbitaceins poisonous?

Many myths and half-truths circulate around these substances. There are basically two groups of people who have different opinion about these substances. The first group sees them beneficial to health. Supposedly, these substances can even can help you to fight cancer. But the second group feels that they are toxic. Anyway, no one consumes bitter cucumber because of the unpleasant taste, so we should be ok. To find out if a cucumber is bitter, taste the tip of the fruit first. Many cucumbers are bitter at the very tip, and the rest may be delicious. So, try first and you should be ok.

Preview photo: Pixabay

Radek Štěpán

Gardening is my hobby, I have a lot of experience and I am happy to share it.


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