how-to-pick-cucumbers

When and How to Pick Cucumbers for the Best-tasting Harvest

The TLC you’ve lavished on your cuke patch is paying off big time in vines laden with rapidly growing fruit. Your seed packets have indicated when the cukes should be ready to harvest, but you know that’s just a guideline. Our answers to these FAQs explain when your cukes are ready to pick and the proper way to pick them.

When Is a Cucumber Ready to Pick?

Your cucumbers’ varieties dictate the time to pick them. Although most are harvest-ready as soon as they become deep green, some cultivars are white, yellowish, pale-green or striped. Their seed packets’ pictures and days-to-harvest numbers give good indications of when to pick them.

Expert gardener’s tip: A cucumber vine continues producing fruit over a period of weeks. Once a female flower has been pollinated , the baby cuke at its base should be big enough to harvest within eight to 10 days.

Why Can’t I Wait until My Cucumbers Get Really Big?

Cucumbers taste best before they ripen completely. Waiting for yours to get really large might seem to be the best payoff for your time and labor but allowing them to ripen on the vine will make them too bitter to eat.

Do Pickling and Slicing Cucumbers Have Different Ripening Times?

As a general rule, slicing cucumbers should be harvested when they are between 7 and 9 inches long, and at 2 to 4 inches long:

  • Harvest at 2 inches for gherkins or sweet pickles.
  • Harvest at 3 to 4 inches for dill pickles.

Length doesn’t apply to burpless varieties of cucumbers; most of those should be picked when they measure about 1.5 inches around.

What’s the Correct Way to Pick Cucumbers?

Snip cucumbers off the vine with sharp scissors or pruning shears. Leave a 1-inch section of stem on the ones you intend to store; otherwise their stem ends may rot. Twisting cukes off by hand could pull a vine from its trellis or the stem from the fruit.

Expert gardener’s tips:

If your cukes are prickly, wear gloves while harvesting them and remove the spines with a vegetable brush before slicing or pickling.

Burpless cucumbers bruise easily. Set them gently in a basket or container and handle them as little as possible after harvesting.

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