Cucumbers are enjoyed best when eaten right after picking from the vine. They taste fresh, sweet, and juicy. But what will you do if you have a lot of them? How do you store them for later use? Let’s see.
To store cucumbers from the garden, it is best to pick them when they are firm and have a bright green color. Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a damp towel to prevent dehydration. It is recommended to use cucumbers within a week of picking them for the best flavor and texture.
These veggies might not remain fresh for too long, but they are enjoyed the best after you preserve them. Please read this article till the end to know about some exciting methods to store cucumbers and enjoy them for later usage.
Importance of proper cucumber storage
Cucumbers are best enjoyed when eaten fresh.
But if you have too many of them, you will want to use them for later use.
That is the time when proper cucumber storage becomes an important task.
Here are some importance of storing cucumbers:
- The cucumbers are 96% water. So, they can dehydrate if not stored well. Proper storage will maintain their hydration and keep them fresh. However, if you want them to enjoy raw, eat them up within a week.
- Cucumbers are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Proper storage guarantees the retention of these nutritional values so that you can consume them for as long as possible and receive all the nutritional values.
- Proper storage increases the shelf-life of the cucumbers to a great extent.
- Cucumbers can develop mold and decay when exposed to excessive moisture. Storing them correctly so they don’t get exposed to such conditions will keep them from decaying.
- When you store the cucumbers correctly, you also store their taste and flavors. Moreover, some cucumbers taste even better after storage.
Harvesting the cucumbers at the right time for storage
You must harvest the cucumbers at the right time for proper storage.
Harvesting the cukes too late leads to a bitter taste. Sometimes, they will have too many seeds.
Storing these cucumbers will be useless in these conditions because you cannot enjoy them later.
The cucumbers become ready for harvest after 50 to 70 days of planting.
Some early maturing plants get ready at 47 to 48 days.
Keep checking the cucumbers.
You can identify them by their size, texture, and color.
The cucumbers have a light green color, the texture is slightly rough or bumpy, and the size is 2 to 4 inches for the small varieties and 6 to 9 inches for the larger varieties.
For confirmation, pick one cucumber and check its taste.
Others are ready for harvest if it tastes sweet, fresh, and juicy.
Sometimes, gardeners pick the cucumbers a little early.
It is okay because early cucumbers are sweet and slightly crunchier than full-mature fruits.
Preparing the cucumbers for storage: Cleaning and sorting
Before you store the cucumbers, you need to prepare them for storage.
Examine the cukes and remove the damaged ones
Once you have collected the cukes from the plant, examine them closely to find damaged signs like mushy cukes, bruises, soft spots, or mold.
You must discard the damaged cukes.
They are neither edible nor good for storage.
Collect the good cucumbers and keep them aside.
Remove the wax
If you have bought the cucumbers from a store, you will find them coated with wax.
The coating is given to extend the shelf life of the cucumbers.
Remove the wax from the cucumbers by scrubbing the body with a soft cloth or vegetable peeler.
Be careful and gentle so that you don’t peel off the cucumbers.
Clean the cucumbers
After you have harvested the cucumbers from your garden, please give them a good rinse to wash off any remaining dirt and grime from their body.
Do not use any soap or detergent.
Wash the cucumbers with plain room-temperature water.
The cucumbers are ready for storage if they are fresh and in good shape.
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Dry the cucumbers
Once you have washed the cukes very well, it is time to let them dry.
Storing the cukes while they are still wet will spoil them.
Wrap them with a clean paper towel or dish towel very well.
The wrapping will stop them from sogginess, mold, and other problems.
Once the cucumbers are dry, they are ready for storage.
Before approaching the storage steps and techniques, learn that raw and fresh cucumbers are stored best in a cool and dark place.
1. Storing at room temperature
If you live in a colder zone, everywhere outside will be too cold.
But inside the house, your kitchen can provide a perfect room temperature where gas gives some heat during the kitchen activity and balances out the temperature.
For storing the cucumbers at room temperature for short-term storage, you can cut them and put them in a bowl.
Cover the bowl and leave it on the shelves.
If you are using them soon but not immediately, pour cold water into the bowl to keep them fresh while eating.
You can even keep them in a basket.
This storage method is for extremely short-term storage.
But the method will keep the cucumbers fresh and crunchy for a few days.
2. Refrigeration for short-term storage
It is one of the common ways to store cucumbers.
But unfortunately, like the previous one, this is also for short-term storage.
Raw and fresh cucumbers are stored best in a cool and dark place.
And a refrigerator can provide you with just that.
The method is perfect if you live in a warm zone and the temperature inside the house is too hot for them.
The cucumbers will stay fresh for a week or two as long as they are stored correctly.
The right place is generally towards the front of the refrigerator because the backside is too cold.
Keep the cucumbers in the crisper drawer.
After washing and drying the cucumbers, wrap them with a clean paper towel and place them in a perforated bag for air circulation.
Cover the exposed part with plastic wrap if you have cut it into halves and need to store the other half.
Once sliced, the cucumbers should be eaten within a few days.
Store the cut cucumbers in an airtight container or a sealed bag, and keep them in the refrigerator until you want to use them.
With this method, the cucumbers will last up to 2 weeks.
3. Freezing for a long-term storage
Cucumbers do not always get frozen because of their texture.
Since the cucumbers have a lot of moisture, freezing them can be worrying.
There are two ways to freeze the cucumbers, based on how you want to use them.
If you want peeled cucumbers, peel them off before freezing. Freezing will make the peeling harder after they thaw.
Slice the cucumbers and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Please put them in the freezer for a few hours and flash them freezing.
Keep the cucumbers in a plastic Ziploc back and label them before storing them in the freezer.
In the second technique, gather some ice cube trays and make cucumber cubes from the cukes.
Slice the cucumbers and put them into the cubes of the tray.
Cover them with water and put them in the freezer.
It will make great smoothies and drinks in the summer.
Once you have frozen the cucumbers, store the cubes in a plastic bag.
You can even save the whole cucumbers right from the garden.
Wash them and peel them (if you want).
I prefer peeling off the cucumbers before freezing because when you thaw the cucumbers, peeling becomes too hard.
Put the cucumbers in plastic bags or a tight container in the freezer.
4. Pickling cucumbers to preserve
Pickling the cucumbers is another common way to preserve the cucumbers for a long-term basis.
There are so many pickle recipes, and you can make any single one to store the cucumbers.
For typical recipes are:
- Vinegar pickles
- Lacto-fermented pickles
- Sweet refrigerator pickles with small cucumbers
- Homemade canned dill pickles
- Bread and butter style pickles
- Spicy garlic dill pickles
- Sweet cinnamon pickles
Another way is to shred the cucumbers and cover them with vinegar or brine solution to make them relish.
For lacto-fermented dill pickles, soak the cucumbers in a natural salt-brine solution where the bacteria converts sugars into lactic acid to preserve the pickles.
5. Fermenting the cucumbers for probiotic richness
Fermenting involves storing the cucumbers in a salt brine solution to release carbon dioxide and moisture.
In this way, you can ferment the cukes for several days or weeks, based on how much fermentation you want and how long you want to store them.
The salt brine solution creates a tangy flavor.
Eating fermented cucumber pickles gives you an excellent immune-boosting probiotic richness.
Use small cucumbers with thin skin for this purpose.
You can also use seeds like fennel, mustard, coriander, dill, celery, allspice, and peppercorns with fermented cucumber pickles.
Add some pepper for heat and garlic for flavor.
6. Dehydrating the cucumbers for shelf-stability
You can dehydrate the cucumbers and store them by making cucumber chips.
Cut the fresh cucumbers into thin slices and dry them in a food dehydrator for about 12 hours until they reach the right crisp level.
You can also do this in an oven at around 135°F for some hours until they reach the desired crispness.
Once you dry them out well, add whatever spices and flavor you prefer; for example, toss them in oil or vinegar and sprinkle your preferred spices.
Store them in a cupboard in an airtight container.
You can store the cucumbers for several weeks and even months.
7. Canning the cucumbers to preserve a whole
Canning is an excellent way to store cucumbers for the long term.
Multiple recipes like cucumber relish, pickles, salsa, and jelly are made in large batches to get canned for future usage.
When you prepare the cucumbers with suitable recipes, you can store them for over a year.
You also don’t need to worry about the pressure canning.
The water-bath method follows Most canning instructions because pickles, jams, and other recipes require high addition of acidic ingredients like vinegar.
So, it is essential to accept a recipe formulated for home canning.
In maximum recipes, people combine the strained cucumber juice with vinegar, sugar, or pectin and then process it in a water bath canner.
Add fresh lemon, mint, and ginger for extra flavor.
The canned cucumber pickles have a soft texture that can make them limp.
So, get crystals designed to maintain the pickle texture in the canning part.
8. Storing with lemon and salt
Salt is considered a natural preservative for meat in the kitchen.
And adding lemon makes a powerful preservative combo for all vegetables, and cucumbers are no exception.
The cut cucumbers will go sour if not stored well.
You can store the sliced cucumbers with salt and lemon for a week.
Besides keeping the cucumbers fresh, the method will make them taste better.
9. Cucumber powder
In this method, dehydrate the cucumber slices and then make a powder.
Put the dehydrated chips into a blender and pulse until they are smooth and no chunky remains are present.
Store the powder in an airtight container.
Make sure not to use an oversized container. Otherwise, the powder will go rancid.
Add an O2 absorber if you do not want to use them for now.
You can use this powder to make veggie dips or add them to sauces for a different flavor.
You can store the powder for several months.
10. Other methods
Before refrigerators and dehydrators came, people still used to store cucumbers.
As time has passed, the world has evolved, and so have the ways of preserving cucumbers.
The traditional methods may now appear peculiar.
But you can try these methods.
If you are unsure, choose one method about which you are sure, and try storing a few cucumbers with the methods in this section:
In a pond or reservoir
Place the cukes in a small bag with small cells and suspend a weight at the bottom. Now, keep the bag in a reservoir.
The bag will lower into the reservoir. The reservoir won’t freeze even during the winter.
Collect earthenware pots, and wash them well.
Also, collect some dried sand.
Put a layer of sand in the pot, then the cucumbers, and then sand again.
Keep doing this until you reach the top layer of the pot.
Close the pots and keep them in a cellar.
The method will store the cucumbers for a long time.
This technique will help store the cucumbers for more time if you bury the pots in the ground.
In the well
If you have a well, cover a bucket of cucumbers with a natural cloth, and immerse the bucket in the water by 1 to 2 cm.
Pour some vinegar into a clean, enameled dish with a 3 mm layer.
Now, place a colander or grate inside the dish and then place the cucumbers over it.
Make sure the fruits don’t touch the vinegar.
Cover the container or dish with a lid and store the cucumbers in the cold.
The cucumbers are 96% moisture that can evaporate at low temperatures. So, you need to maintain a condition to delay the evaporation. That is why storage becomes an essential factor. Storing the cucumbers keeps them fresh as you have recently picked them from the garden. You can store them in a bowl of cold water at room temperature, wrap them in a paper towel and store them in a refrigerator or with salt and lemon.
However, to enjoy them fresh, you must consume them within a week. To use the cucumbers more than a keep, you cannot enjoy them fresh. But there are other ways to preserve them for future use, such as pickles and relish, freezing, fermentation, dehydration, and canning. Make sure to harvest the cucumbers at the right time.
Storing the late-harvested cucumbers won’t be helpful because they will eventually taste bitter. For fresh cucumbers, proper refrigeration helps store the whole cucumbers for a week. The older methods can store them for several months. They may seem uncommon but try them once with a few cucumbers.
Are cucumber seeds healthy?
Cucumber seeds are a good source of fiber and contain vitamins C, K, and B6. They improve digestion, help in weight loss, and have high moisture contents that keep them dehydrated.
Can I store cucumbers by making salsa?
Making cucumber salsa is a great way to preserve the cucumbers. You can store them for a long time and use them in the future for parties and cookouts.
Reference: Cucumber Storage through Pickling Wikipedia