Bitter cucumbers--ugh

kathy9norcalJuly 11, 2014

It is my first year growing them. I have a great spot which gives them full sun. I got the plants at the nursery--they were called Persian cucumbers. I had hoped they would be like the ones at the fruit stand, about 6 inches, matte skin, not bitter at all.

Unfortunately, these are shiny skinned. I have been trying to pick them small, about 6--7 inches. Even when totally peeled, they are bitter. I can't stand the taste. Also, they don't have that classic cucumber taste. Never did.

These 3 plants are so happy and healthy. I hate to rip them out. Anything I can do to prevent this or to get the bitterness out of the existing cukes? I have about 10 sitting in my dish drain just washed.
I read that it may be too much heat and yes, we have been in the high 90's and even 100's some days. Nothing I can do about that!

Anyone know the name for the kind of cucumbers that are picked small and have matte, sweet skin? I thought they were Persians but I guess not so. Any varieties that don't get bitter?

Any help would be appreciated!

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ju1234((8 Dallas TX))

Persian are excellent. You can eat them with the skin. Bitterness usually is due to lack of water. Just water the plants regularly and enough. They will sweeten up.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 2:56PM
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ju1234, these are not the same Persians I buy at the farm stand! You cannot eat them at all right now even peeled. I do not think they are water starved. The ground is always damp.

I even tried soaking them in a salt water solution and they are more bitter than ever. It just figures that these vines look perfect and are producing so well (inedible cukes!)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 5:58PM
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My first cucumber was bitter. I ate it right off the vine, still warm. After that one, I stuck them in the fridge and they are much better cold. Did you try letting them cool in the fridge?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 6:38PM
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Okay, I take that back. I just peeled two out of the fridge. One is really bitter and the other is fine. Weird! The bitter one was smaller. My cucumbers are Burpee sweet burpless hybrid.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 7:56PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Bitterness results from erratic supply of water in the soil.

See the link -

Here is a link that might be useful: why cukes get bitter - Purdue Univeristy

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 8:30PM
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I know folks agree it is the erratic watering, but they get watered every other day automatically and in between if the soil looks dry, I give them more. This is too depressing. I am about to give up growing cukes. I will have to rip them out as they are producing so many! What an ironic bad situation.
Thanks for the responses, none the less!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 9:36PM
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Alright, brainstorming here. If you've got one of those automatic CA watering systems, could it be that they are not being watered deeply enough? You could try picking all of the cukes off that are on there now, then try watering the plants very deeply a couple of times a week and see what happens with the new crop. Worth a try, since the plants are so healthy?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 10:22AM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

My guess is that it's the heat making them bitter. And from a previous discussion linked below, "Persian" is just a marketing term for Beit Alpha type cucumbers. There are different varieties (hence why yours looks different than the farm stand's).


Here is a link that might be useful: Are Persian Cucumbers for real or a gimmick?

This post was edited by theforgottenone1013 on Sat, Jul 12, 14 at 10:50

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 10:49AM
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Just wanted to add that I may have somewhat solved the problem. I cut off both ends of the cuke and peeled off the skin very deeply. No more bitterness. They are crunchy but still no cucumber taste. Oh well, at least they are edible.
I do think it may be the recent heat spell. It is only going to get worse in the next few days. I will be supplementing the water each day to make sure it isn't lack of water. I will also be more careful of what variety I plant next year.
Thanks to all of you for trying to figure this out for me! Jean and Rodney, thanks for the link. Who knew there could be so many types of these persians! I feel much more prepared right now.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 2:23AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Number one reason for bitterness is lack of water and high heat. Cucumbers need real deep watering. I don't know how drip system delivers water and how deep.

Bitterness is usually on the stem end not the skin so much. to get the bitterness out try this:

-- cut about 1/2" from the stem end with sharp knife.
-- Rub the cut surfaces in circular motion together. You should see white cream coming out. That cream carries the bitterness. (use it as skin lotion)

If you do this properly the bitterness should be reduced drastically if not eliminated.

Additionally, you can salt that cut surface. It should draw the bitter juice out.

Just try it. Fresh smooth skin cucumber needs not to be peeled. JMO

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:21AM
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loribee2(CA 9)

Kathy, I'm in the North Bay, don't have a problem with bitter cucumbers and water on a drip system. I grow a brand called Corinto. Get the seeds from Johnny's. They are never bitter, and my garden gets into the 100's when we have our heat waves. I have raised beds, native clay soil is about a foot down. Water every 3 days, mulch heavily.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 9:01AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Make sure you test eat all parts of the cucumber. I've learned to automatically cut off about an inch of the stem end before eating the rest. The stem end always seems to be bitter. I grow County Fair cucumbers.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 9:22AM
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