What to Do About Bitter Cucumbers

I harvested two hills of cucumbers this year. The fruit had a bitter taste. Can you tell me why? Thank you.

Bitterness in cucumbers is due to a naturally occurring compound called cucurbitin. All cucumber plants contain varying amounts. Sometimes this compound makes its way to the fruit. Hot temperatures, lack of water (cucumbers need at least an inch per week), poor soil and foliage disease can increase the bitterness.

It has been suggested that peeling your cucumbers from the blossom end toward the stem end, and stopping about an inch from the stem end, will eliminate some of the bitterness. This is because the cucurbitin is often concentrated in the skin, stem and light green layer under the skin of the cucumber. It is best to rinse your peeling knife after each slice so as not to spread the bitter taste.