GardenTenders

Something Learned #5: Bitterness in Cucumbers

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Radicalfarmergal posted 01-21-2014 07:00 PM 1575 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) Seed Germination Part 5 of Something Learned series no next part

I have been educating myself about breeding vegetables and saving seeds this winter. As I was reading Suzanne Ashworth’s book, Seed to Seed, I stumbled across an explanation for bitterness in cucumbers. The cucumbers I grow often taste a bit bitter so this information really caught my attention.

The bitterness in cucumbers is caused by chemical compounds called cucurbitacins. Cucurbitacins are toxic to humans and the bitterness is a warning not to eat them. According to Ashworth, the amount of the cucurbitacins found in the fruit is genetically controlled. Although environment can play a role in the level of compounds present and therefore the amount of bitterness, plants are only “slightly influenced” by the amount of water the plants receive. Additionally, she explains that bitterness in cucumbers is not caused by crossing with a melon or a squash which is actually botanically not possible. Her recommended solution is to not save seeds from plants that produce bitter fruit.

Next year, I will plant cucumbers where they get regular moisture (Perhaps right below a swale?) and I won’t save seeds if the fruit tastes bitter.

If anyone is interested in saving seeds, particularly from plants that readily cross pollinate, Suzanne Ashworth’s book is a great source of information about recommended isolation distances and techniques, seed collecting and preserving and potential breeding partners.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout



View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1924 days
hardiness zone 5b

Entry tags/keywords

cucumbers bitterness seed saving zone 5

View Blog Archive
Subscribe to blog entries (RSS)


By subscribing to the RSS feed you will be notified when new entries are posted on this blog.


6 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14683 posts in 2661 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 01-21-2014 10:51 PM

my cucumbers were bitter a couple of years ago and I had read that it was because of inconsistent water.
We used to grow acres and acres of cucumber (oh the memories of picking.. grrr). I told my mom about the bitterness and watering relationship and she wasn’t believing the connection as we never had bitter cucumbers, regardless of the season.

But, “just in case”, regular watering (or your swale idea) can’t hurt, right?

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1924 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 01-22-2014 12:36 PM

Debbie, does your mother remember the kind of cucumbers you grew? I am looking for a hardy, open-pollinated, non-bitter cucumber to grow. Do any GardenTenders have a favorite variety to recommend? The size of the cucumber is less important to me than the taste and ease of growing the fruit.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14683 posts in 2661 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 01-22-2014 06:40 PM

no
she didn’t remember.
We are talking 40 years ago. That’s probably a factor in the variety search.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1924 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 01-23-2014 10:38 PM

Thanks for asking her, Debbie. : )

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View justjoel's profile

justjoel

1063 posts in 2041 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 01-27-2014 07:02 PM

My family and friends and co-workers loved the Richmond’s Green Apple (an heirloom from Australia), which are very similar to most lemon cucs. I bought the seeds from Baker Creek (rareseeds.com), a couple of years ago, but don’t carry them anymore, but others do. The plants produced tons of fruit and were easy to grow.

-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1924 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 01-30-2014 12:52 AM

Justjoel, after reading your post, I remember that you wrote about these cucumbers last summer. I will have to look for a seed source. Thank you for the recommendation.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: All views and comments posted by members are not necessarily those of GardenTenders.com or of those working on the site.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

LumberJocks.com :: woodworking showcase

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com