Cucumbers and Cold
On the vine or in the kitchen, cucumbers hate to be cold. They won’t grow below 65°F (18.3°C) outdoors and they have little tolerance for temperatures below 50°F (10°C) indoors. For most foods, the ideal refrigerator temp is 37°F (2.8°C) — far below what cukes handle without injury.
Storing your cukes below 50°F (10°C) for more than three days damages their cells. The results?
- Pitted skin
- Discolored, water-soaked flesh
- Acclerated rotting
Not exactly the crisp, sweet salad addition you were expecting.
Expert gardener’s tip: If refrigeration is your only option, store your cukes on a middle or upper shelf toward the front of the fridge and eat them within three days.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, cucumbers stored at room temperature on a countertop hold their color and crispness far longer than they do in the fridge. Even cukes refrigerated for three days, however, last longer on the countertop. Store them:
- In a perforated plastic bag
- Out of direct sun
- Away from ripening tomatoes, bananas, melons or any produce that releases the ethylene gas damaging to cukes.
Extending Storage LIfe
No matter how long or where you store your cukes, they’ll hold up better if you follow these cucumber-picking tips:
- Water the cuke plants well prior to picking
- Harvest in the early morning or late evening, but never when it’s very hot.
- Keep the harvested cukes out of direct sun.
- Always cut with a clean, sharp knife or pruners.
- Leaving a ¼-inch (.63 cm) piece of stem on each fruit to seal out disease pathogens.
The Best Cukes for Prolonged Storage
When it comes to chill-injury resistance and prolonged storage life, two cucumber varieties are absolute superstars. In commercial testing,’Marketmore 76’and ‘Dasher II’ survived eight days of refrigeration at 36.5 °F (2.5°C) followed by six days at 68°F (20°C) with minimal damage. Both are great for pickling; ‘Marketmore 76’ is popular for slicing as well.