If you don’t know how to store cucumbers, this guide we have here today can lend you a helping hand.
Everyone is familiar with cucumbers. You can find them in a wide range of recipes from salads and soups to sandwiches. Cucumbers can be eaten raw, juiced, or in spa treatments, in addition to being used in cookery.
But this guide wouldn’t have been necessary if keeping cucumbers fresh and crunchy is an easy task. Contrary to popular belief, it’s a pretty tough vegetable to store correctly.
The Water Content of Cucumbers
Cucumbers are one of the most water-rich foods out there. Depending on the variety, a cucumber can contain around 96% to 98% of its weight as water. The rest are composed of fiber and nutrients like beta-Carotene (provitamin A), several types of B vitamins, and antioxidants.
Vegetables with high water contents like cucumbers typically do not last very long if improperly stored. The water flesh of a fresh cucumber is the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria.
If you plan to eat them raw, it’s good practice to finish them as quickly as possible (ideally within 2 or 3 days).
Any further than that and you will have to be more vigilant of spoilage, especially if you decide to store them at room temperature. Watch out for any visible mold growths on the skin of the cucumber.
Use your senses, too. If the cucumber looks bad (discolored, wrinkled skin), feels bad (slimy skin), and smells bad — it’s off. Don’t even bother to taste it.
The Best Ways to Store Cucumbers
1. Countertop vs. Fridge
This is a highly contentious issue. If you were to browse online and look for similar storage guides, you would find conflicting information everywhere.
Some will tell you that cucumbers fare better and longer at room temperature, while others will tell you that your cukes would have significantly better mileage once thrown into the fridge. Both sides have good reasons to back their claims.
For the folks who advocate for storing at room temperature, their argument is based on a phenomenon known as “chill injury”.
It is a known fact that cucumbers despise cold temperatures. When stored in conditions that are colder than 50°F, cucumbers can be “chill injured”. The cucumbers decay quicker, become slimy and soft, and develop pits.
On the other side, people who believe in their refrigerators rally behind the fact that fridge-chilled cucumbers remain fresh for longer. They also believe that chill injuries can be avoided with the use of proper techniques.
Ultimately, we believe that both arguments have their merits. The compromise is that you should select one of two methods based on how long you plan to store your cukes.
Stored on the countertop, cucumbers will remain healthy and crunchy for 2 to 3 days. If you think you can finish up your cukes before the third day, this method will work.
As mentioned earlier, if you keep your cukes around on the countertop for longer, be vigilant of spoilage. In this instance, use the fridge. Despite the risk of cold injuries, they will last significantly longer. Fridge-chilled cukes will maintain their peak condition for up to a week.
2. How to Store Cucumbers for the Long Term
The answer to this query is to freeze your cucumbers. Once frozen, you can keep them around for up to 3 months.
Bear in mind, there’s a caveat: frozen cucumbers won’t be a good addition to your salad and you can’t eat them raw, either. When they are thawed, frozen cucumber slices are very mushy. Instead, you can throw them in the blender to make a cucumber smoothie or strain them to make cucumber water.
How to Store Cucumbers: Detailed Instructions
Before storing your cucumbers, it is extremely important to wash them. Unwashed cucumbers aren’t just caked in soil and fertilizer, but they may also be filled with bacteria.
Once the cucumbers are washed, dry them with a dry towel. Make sure that the cukes are completely moisture-free by the time you’re done.
1. Store Fresh Cucumbers on the Countertop
Find a breathable basket and put your cucumbers inside. Place the basket on the kitchen countertop and away from direct sunlight.
Do not put your cucumbers together with other ripening fruits and vegetables that you may have on the countertop. Cucumbers are extremely sensitive to ethylene — a gas that every ripening fruit and vegetable produces. If your cukes are overexposed to ethylene, they will quickly spoil.
2. In the Fridge
Storing in the fridge is slightly more complicated because of the added risk of cold injuries. However, there are certain things that you can do to protect your cucumbers before storage.
Wrap up each cucumber with paper towels and put them into a resealable plastic bag. The towels, combined with the plastic bag, will keep the cucumbers moisture-free.
Do not seal the bag, however. For the cucumbers to stay dry, they must be allowed to breathe.
Next is the most important part: store the cucumbers on the fridge’s door shelves. The door is the warmest part of the fridge and can help protect your cucumber from chill injuries.
3. Store Cucumbers After Cutting
Once the cucumbers are cut, you must use them up within the day after or they will spoil.
Fortunately, storing cut cucumbers is simple and very similar to storing whole cucumbers in the fridge.
Wrap up all of the cucumber slices in paper towels, then put them into a resealable plastic bag. Store in the fridge.
4. Freeze Cucumbers
There are two freezing methods that you can use. They net the same results and there really aren’t many advantages between them. So, pick whichever that suits your fancy or is most convenient.
Freeze in Ice Tray
Cut your cucumbers into cubes that are small enough to fit into the slots of an ice tray. Place the cubes into the slots and fill each slot with filtered water.
Pop the tray into the freezer and allow them to freeze overnight.
Check on the cucumber cubes the day after and if they have frozen properly. Transfer the cubes into a freezer-safe plastic bag. Before sealing the bag, make sure to squeeze out all of the air within the bag.
Label the bag with the name and the frozen date. Use within 3 months.
Freeze on Baking Sheet
Cut the cucumbers into thick slices and lay them in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Do not allow the slices to touch one another. If they do, they will clump together.
Put the tray into the freezer overnight.
Transfer into air-free and labeled freezer-safe plastic bags the day after, then put back into the freezer. Once again, use within 3 months.
And that’s how to store cucumbers for maximum freshness! If you follow the steps carefully, you can easily build a supply of fresh cucumbers to use even during the off-season.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.