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Why Do Cucumbers Get Rubbery

Growing cucumbers can take some time to get used to, though as soon as you get them to sprout, they won’t stop. They’re best picked when firm, giving that crisp crunch and fresh flavor that we all know and love. However, if left to sit too long, their firm feels and fresh flavor can change – turning mushy and sour. 

Cucumbers that turn rubbery are usually a result of improper storage. Letting them sit for too long or not storing them correctly can make them lose firmness and taste. The longer they sit out, the more water they lose, taking on a squishy, rubbery feel. They can also take on a rubbery feel if left on the stem too long after ripening. 

If you’ve thought, “why do my cucumbers get rubbery,” we’ve got tips and tricks to keep them in their best shape post-picking. We’ll share the best way to store cucumbers and proven ways to keep them from getting spongy. 

Why Do Cucumbers Get Spongy? 

Cucumbers get their fresh, crispy taste from their high water content. Allowing water to seep out results in loss of firmness and can make cucumbers feel slimy and spongy. There are two reasons why cucumbers start to feel spongy, improper storage and waiting too long to harvest. 

Keeping cucumbers in an area that’s too hot can cause them to become rubbery quickly. They lose water as soon as they’re picked, turning mushier and taking on a spongy consistency. Leaving cucumbers on the vine too long can also cause them to soften up. The longer it’s on the vine after ripening, the softer and more yellow the cucumber will turn. 

What Is The Best Way To Store Cucumbers? 

Because cucumbers have a lot of water, they thrive in cold conditions. However, you can’t just store them in the fridge and forget about them; there are some critical steps to storing cucumbers to last for weeks. 

Step One: Wash Them 

Right after picking all of the cucumbers that are ready (firm to the touch), the first thing you should do is wash them off. Give them a good rinse in the sink, paying close attention to any excess dirt piled on. 

Step Two: Let Em’ Dry 

Dab cucumbers with a paper or cloth towel to pat off excess water and allow them to sit for at least a few hours before moving on to the next step. Once they’re done sitting, pat them off to keep all moisture away. 

Step Three: Wrap Them Up 

Moisture buildup is what can make cucumbers rubbery. So, before storing them, it’s recommended to wrap them in a paper or cloth towel to keep any moisture away. 

Step Four: Seal Them 

After they’re wrapped, place cucumbers into a sealable bag. The bag will serve as an extra protector from any moisture and help to maintain the firm, crisp feel of the cucumbers for weeks.

How To Keep Cucumbers From Getting Spongy? 

Keeping cucumbers from getting spongy requires quickly putting them in favorable conditions after picking. Cucumbers have a lot of water and need to stay in cold, dry spaces that will keep them from excess moisture. Here’s what you’ll need to do to keep your cucumbers crisp and prevent them from turning spongy. 

Store Them Quick 

The longer cucumbers are left off the vine, the squishier they will become. Because of the large amount of water in cucumbers, they change consistency quickly, losing firmness due to evaporation. 

Store them quickly after picking to retain water and prevent cucumbers from getting rubbery. Be sure to follow our steps above for proper storage, keeping as much moisture as possible. That means washing them off and letting them dry completely before adding them to a tightly sealed bag and storing them in the refrigerator. 

Pay Attention To Temperature 

Cucumbers thrive in temperatures between 50oF and 60oF. Keeping cucumbers within this temperature range reduces the water they lose and keeps them crisp and fresh longer.

Keeping cucumbers in colder conditions can cause them to freeze, which takes away their signature crunch. Temperatures that are too warm can cause cucumbers to taste bitter quickly, leading to rot if left to sit too long. 

Preserve If Needed 

If you have a ton of cucumbers coming out of your garden each day, you may need to start preserving them so that they don’t go to waste. A mixture of vinegar, salt, and spices can preserve cucumbers for a long period, allowing you to enjoy them when you want. 

You can also turn them into pickles, choosing to make them sweet, sour, or spicy. Preserving is a great way to reduce waste once your cucumbers start to ripen, lasting in the fridge or the pantry for months up to years. 

Final Thoughts 

Cucumbers are a summer staple, filled with juicy, water-filled flesh that’s refreshing with each bite. Because of their high water content, cucumbers must be stored properly and picked soon after ripening to prevent them from turning rubbery or squishy.

Besides storing them in the fridge, growers can also preserve them with a bit of vinegar and spices – especially with continuously producing crops.