Yikes…bitter cucumber is the worst taste ever…kind of like when you get a little pecan shell.  And talk about a flavor that sticks with you..yucko indeed.

Here is the stage for this bitter flavor caper…I was having my parents over for dinner one night.  I was proud as a peacock to be cooking lots of veggie bounty from my garden.  You know the great southern summer recipes like grandma’s squash casserole and good old fashion cucumber’s in apple cider vinegar–still one of my all time favorite dishes.

I went out to the garden and collected my cucumbers.  I peeled and cut them up, not even thinking I should taste them before I mixed them all together and before I added my vinegar.  I added my salt and pepper and went on about my dinner preparations.  When we sat down to eat them.  OMG…my mom and I had a bitter bite from the cucumber…the worst.  And it appeared to be there was only one that was bitter so it was kind of like a game of cucumber “frogger”..can you dodge the bitter one?

So why on earth did one of my cucumber’s go to the dark side? Here is what I found out:

A bitter cucumber could be a result from 4 things:

1) Too hot. One of the most common is if the plant is stressed from too much heat.  This is a viable cause, with our record heat wave this summer.

2)Inconsistent watering. So the process of  over watering and drought stress the plant and causes it to produce bitter fruit. This is also a possible culprit because I have been trying to fight the heat and lack of rain, and it is possible I have had times of overzealous watering between limited watering(especially after I looked at my water bill this month OMG…it was rough. But this rain today will fill up my water barrels, so perhaps I can better have a better alternative.)

3)Temperature fluctuation.  If the temperature dramatically switches from one extreme to the other…a bitter fruit may result.  I don’t think this is the case, as we all know…it has been consistently 90+.

4)Heredity. Apparently there is a recessive gene that can cause a plant to produce bitter plants.  Just the way it is, doesn’t matter if you planted them from the same pack of seeds. The luck of the draw.  I don’t think this is my issue, but good to know.

So, what can you do about it now?  I can’t change the weather or the genes, so the only think I can do is try to be more consistent with my watering.  And taste a bite from each cucumber before I put them in the bowl to eat.

I hope yours didn’t go bitter.  Any other advice on bitter-cucumber prevention?

Happy gardening

melissa

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