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Why Do Cucumbers Have Thick Skin

Cucumbers are a fresh and tasty fruit enjoyed by many, especially when it’s sunny outside. Cucumbers can be eaten plain, in pickle form, and in many different dishes. They are a great addition to salads. Cucumbers are packed with lots of nutrients, and their skin holds many of those. Like many fruits and vegetables, you can leave the skin on a cucumber for added nutritional value. If you decide to, you might wonder why cucumbers have thick skin.

Cucumbers tend to have thick skin when left not the vine for too long. When they become overripe, their skin will toughen. Also, some varieties are made to have thicker skin than others. Most outdoor garden cucumbers will produce thicker and tougher skins. Greenhouse varieties are better for those who prefer softer and thinner cucumber skins. 

Do what you can to eat your cucumbers with the skin left on them. You consume more nutrients that way. Continue reading to learn why cucumber skins may become thick and ways to make them easier to eat. 

What Type Of Cucumbers Have Thick Skin?

Cucumbers that are grown outside typically have the thickest skin. Outdoor-grown varieties are most commonly called ridge cucumbers. Ridge cucumbers aren’t typically sold in grocery stores but are the thick slicing varieties you may be growing in your home garden.

Outdoor temperatures are usually colder and less controllable than greenhouse growing. The ridge cucumbers must adapt to the environment; therefore, they will grow a thick skin that may be unpleasant to some fruit eaters. It’s easy to remove cucumber skin, but many prefer to ingest the nutritional value of the skin. 

Greenhouse cucumbers, also known as English cucumbers, are always grown in a greenhouse setting. Growing indoors in a warm climate produces thinner skin, making them more desirable to many. The long, thin, dark green cucumbers in grocery stores are typically English or greenhouse cucumbers. 

Marketmore 76 cucumbers are a variety that typically comes with a thicker skin texture. You’ll want to make sure to peel before you eat these. Whether you grow this variety outdoors or in a greenhouse, you’ll probably run into thicker skin.

American Market cucumbers are also known for their thick skin. It’s the standard cucumber you can find at a grocery store. They don’t have that curvy shape that you find in some garden cucumbers, and they were bred to having thicker skin to protect them during shipping.

In general, outdoor cucumbers tend to come with thicker skin. Ideally you’ll need to slice or peel them before consuming as some can come out spiky or bumpy.

Should Cucumbers Be Firm Or Soft?

Cucumbers should be fairly firm once they are ripe and ready to be picked. If your cucumbers are too soft, they might be rotten or overripe.

Typically, as a cucumber grows in size, the skin will naturally become thicker. The taste of your harvest will be just fine, but chewing it may be a bit of a struggle. If you know that you’re growing a thicker skin variety for sure (for example the Marketmore 76) then it would be best to pick your cucumber while its younger.

Also, keep in mind that sometimes, only one part of a cucumber may be too soft. If so, then simply cut off the end or part that is soft, and you can eat the rest that’s firm. Also, if you don’t eat your firm cucumbers soon after picking them, they can eventually get soft and become inedible.  

How To Avoid Thick Cucumber Skin

Harvest your cucumbers regularly. If they are left on the vine for too long, they will grow to be very large. As a cucumber grows, its skin will toughen and become very challenging to chew and swallow. Sometimes the taste may even be affected.

If you pick your cucumbers when they are perfectly ripe and ready, you should prevent the skin from becoming too thick. The list below will help you decide when your cucumbers are ready to be picked. 

How To Soften Thick Cucumber Skin

  • Before slicing or eating your cucumbers, cut them into halves and coat them in a thin layer of salt. Place them on a plate or paper towel and let them sit for 10 minutes or so. This will remove any excess moisture from the skin, causing it to soften. 
  • If your cucumber skin is too thick to eat, try grating it or cutting it into much smaller chunks. It won’t soften the skin, but the smaller pieces will make it easier to eat. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, like most fruits and vegetables, cucumbers grow in wide varieties, all different from one another. Some have thicker skin, and others have thinner skin. Thick skin can make cucumbers hard to eat and digest. Try picking your cucumbers from the vine a little earlier to avoid tough skin.

Also, try growing greenhouse varieties indoors to guarantee you are growing thinner-skinned cucumbers from the start. Of course, don’t let your tough-skinned cucumbers go to waste. Simply peel their skin off and use them for salads and snacking. They will still be packed with nutrients and flavor.