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Why Are Burpless Cucumbers Called Burpless

Cucumbers today have so many different varieties, looks and even tastes. In fact there are nearly 100 varieties of cucumber being grown today. You may have heard of the term “burpless” cucumbers whilst searching for a cucumber to grow. These are just another variety of cucumber that has been genetically modified by scientists.

Burpless cucumbers are cucumbers that have little to no cucurbitacins and are seedless. Cucurbitacins are compounds found inside vegetables like cucumbers, squash, zucchinis, gourds etc. and they are essentially what make the vegetable taste bitter. They are actually called “burpless” because you don’t burp after you eat them, since the cucurbitacins aren’t there to upset your stomach.

To learn more about what cucurbitacins are exactly and there role in burpless cucumbers, please keep on reading.

Cucurbitacins

To understand the burpless cucumber, first we must understand cucurbitacins. This compound found in a handful of vegetables, tends to show up more when the plant is stressed out, so if your crop was battling disease, or drought or something of that nature, your harvest may taste a little more bitter.

Cucurbitacins have been found to be both toxic and actually good for you, in small amounts. Long ago, ancient peoples would use cucurbitacins to heal inflammation, and in recent studies it has been found that these compounds actually can kill or stunt the growth of cancer cells. However, when they are eaten in excess amounts, they can be toxic. They could cause indigestion, upset stomachs, diarrhea and are not recommended for people with sensitive stomachs.

Cucurbitacins, because they are found in all cucumbers, scientists have since created version of cucumbers without them for more enjoyable consumption, which brings us to our topic today.

How To Grow Burpless Cucumbers

Burpless cucumbers are fairly easy to grow and are great for people with limited space. Here are some burpless cucumber gardening tips.

  1. Great For Limited Space- Burpless cucumbers grow in bushes, rather than stretching out in a vine formation like regular cucumbers. This means they are great to put in a planter box, or you can even plant them in a larger pot.
  2. Fast Growing– these cucumbers are ready to harvest within 60 days of planting
  3. Disease Resistant– Not only are they free of cucurbitacins, they also tend to be more hardy against powdery mildew
  4. Trellis– These plants are a bit bushier as they grow, however the do still grow on a vine, but these two qualities make for a great trellising plant. Throwing up some trellis for the plant to climb, or using tomato stakes with string, is a great way to keep your cucumbers off the ground
  5. Pollination- although it depends on which variety of burpless cucumber you have, usually they do not need to be pollinated and are bred to have almost all female flowers (the ones that actually make the fruit)

Overall Flavor of Burpless Cucumbers

Since these cucumbers are free or almost free of the substance that makes them bitter, you can leave bitterness out of the description for these ones! Most times burpless cucumbers have a more mild, sweeter flavor. They are still just as juicy and mouthwatering, but they are without that thicker skin and tinge to them that most other cucumbers have.

How To Eat Burpless Cucumbers

A great thing about burpless cucumbers is that they can be eaten raw or be pickled. If they are pickled, expect them to have to be more of a sweeter pickle (like a bread and butter pickle almost) and the skin will be a bit thinner.

Otherwise, these cucumbers can be just eaten raw, right off the vine. They are also a great addition to any salad, sandwich, tossed into tuna, anything your heart desires. They are extremely versatile.

Different Varieties of Burpless Cucumbers

Burpless cucumber is just the term for the large variety of cucumbers that fall under it. There are a good amount of cucumbers that have been created that are all free of cucurbitacins. These are some of the most popular burpless cucumbers.

  1. Burpless #26– one of the more popular types of burpless cucumber, Burpless #26 is a very long Japanese style slicing cucumber
  2. Tendergreen– another long cucumber (about 6-8 inches long), used for both slicing and pickling
  3. English Cucumbers– you will commonly see these at the grocery store wrapped in plastic to protect their very thin skin, they are better for slicing and make great salads, however can be used for pickling as well
  4. Lebanese Cucumbers– A slicing cucumber known for it’s extremely smooth, dark colored skin, actually great for skin care (dry skin, pimples etc.)
  5. Summer Dance– Grows to be around 9 inches, very sweet flavor, a Japanese variety of cucumber

Main Differences Between Regular Cucumbers and Burpless Cucumbers

Let’s look at all the key differences between burpless cucumbers and regular cucumbers.

Burpless CucumbersRegular Cucumbers
Modified to have no cucurbitacinsNaturally grow with cucurbitacins
Seedless (or very few seeds)Can have few or many seeds
Thinner skins (do not require peeling)While some varieties have thin skins,
generally the skins of regular cucumbers
are thicker than skins of burpless ones
and usually require peeling
Sweeter, more mild tastingRegular cucumbers have a spectrum of
flavor from sweet to more bitter, however
in general the flavor of regular cucumbers
is much more bitter than burpless because
of the amount of cucurbitacins

Final Thoughts

Cucurbitacins have their place in the world. For cucumbers, they are there to protect the plant and give off bitterness to whatever eats it. For us, in small doses can actually be a healing compound and great for inflammation and other things. However, is toxic in large quantities. It’s a fine line with cucurbitacins. Luckily, we live in a world where we don’t have to worry about bitter cucumbers and can simply grow the ones modified to be without cucurbitacins. Both regular and burpless cucumbers have their place and they are all wonderful additions to any vegetable garden. Happy gardening!