Will Cucumbers Ripen Off The Vine?

There are so many types of cucumbers, and they produce so much throughout their growing season that you will wonder what to do with so many of them. Now, the question that most growers have is, will these cucumbers ripen off the vine?

As a general rule, cucumbers will not ripen off the vine. Once picked, cucumbers will not continue to ripen or change color. Instead, they will deteriorate and lose flavor and texture over time. It is best to harvest cucumbers when they are fully mature and at their peak of flavor and quality.

The goal is to receive ripe, fleshy, and sweet cucumbers. So, read this article till the end to know whether the cucumbers can ripen off the vine and how to receive sweet and ripe cucumbers. 

cucumber harvest 3

Understanding the ripening process of the cucumbers

The ripening process in cucumbers is quite a physiological method that happens when the fruit becomes mature. 

Over time, the cucumbers become ripe and change their color and texture once they reach maturity. 

Hormones, like ethylene, control cucumbers’ maturity or ripening process. 

These hormones further activate the enzymes in the plant to break down the cell walls and convert the starch into sugar. 

The more you let the cucumbers stay in the plant, the more it becomes soft due to these hormones converting starch into sugar. 

So, it is essential to harvest the cucumbers at the right time.

When you keep the cucumbers with other fruits and vegetables that can ripen off the vine, the ethylene released from them will turn the cucumbers yellow. Still, it won’t be able to ripen them.

The cucumbers should be harvested 50 to 70 days after planting. 

Check the cucumbers’ firmness, size, color, and texture before you pick them up. 

Do cucumbers ripen off the vine?

As a starter, you might think cucumbers can ripen off the vine for some reason. 

As a beginner, when you see the cucumbers falling off the vine or there is a burst of cucumbers in multiple plants. 

Cucumbers fall off the vine because the plant drops them off. 

These cucumbers do not have many seeds, and the plant needs to use its energy to mature and allow them to make seeds.

Without seeds, the fruit becomes distorted.

Removing the cucumbers from the plant is tempting when there are too many. Ripening them off the vine might feel significant.

You’re mistaken if you think to pick and ripen them off the vine like tomatoes and avocados. 

Ethylene and several other hormones convert the starch of the cucumbers into sugar. 

It will keep converting as long as it stays in the plant and ripens the cucumbers. 

The moment you pick the cucumbers, the ethylene will stop working. So it will no longer ripen the cucumbers.

So, cucumbers do not ripen off the vine. 

Long ago, when I picked some unripe cucumbers, I thought I could ripen them off the vine. So, I kept them away for some days. 

But, after some days, they were still hard, but the color became yellow.

After consulting one of my vegetable grower friends, I discovered that cucumbers do not ripen off the vine. 

The yellow color is deceiving because the overripe cucumbers also turn yellow. 

In this case, the yellowing was because I had kept that with other veggies which were releasing ethylene.

The difference in the taste and texture between the ripened and unripened cucumbers

There is a lot of difference between a ripe cucumber and an unripe one.

Even though you can differentiate from the size and color, the taste and texture allow you to differentiate much better. 

The taste of the unripe cucumbers is slightly bitter but not as bitter as the overripe cucumbers.

Sometimes, the young unripe cucumbers taste mildly sweet. Still, the flavor won’t be as intense as the ripe cucumbers.

The texture of the unripe cucumbers is too smooth and shiny. 

The unripe cucumbers will also be hard and crunchy, and there will rarely be any seeds.

The texture of the ripe cucumbers is primarily bumpy. Additionally, their taste will be delightful with robust flavor. 

The ripe cucumbers will be crunchy but not as hard as the unripe cucumbers. 

Is there any difference between the nutritional value of ripened and unripened cucumbers?

There is no significant difference between the two based on the nutritional value. 

Both will have a sweeter taste and enough water content. 

However, the unripe cucumbers may have a slightly less-intense flavor and be too crunchy compared to the ripe cucumbers.

Both are low in calories and give you enough hydration, vitamins, and minerals. 

Cucumbers are primarily high in potassium and vitamin K and C.

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When and how to harvest the cucumbers?

cucumber harvest 5

Cucumbers get ready for harvest after 50 to 70 days of planting. 

After 50 to 70 days, when the female flowers are opening up, the cucumbers will take only 7 to 10 to reach a proper ripe stage. 

There is a fragile line of difference between maturity and ripeness.

A matured cucumber means they are ready for ripening but still not ready to be eaten. On the contrary, a ripe cucumber means it has become edible and ready for harvest.

Many people confuse these two and pick the cucumbers when they mature. But that is wrong. 

You must give the cucumbers enough time to enter the ripening stage and become edible before harvesting.

To confirm whether the cucumbers are ready for harvest or not, follow up for some signs, like:

  • Mature cucumbers are green with a light hue.
  • They are firm, and some will have a bumpy texture. 
  • The size will differ based on the type. For pickled cucumbers, the mature size is 2-4 inches. For sweet pickles, harvest the pickler cucumbers when they are 2 inches long; for dill pickles, pick them when they are 3-4 inches long.
  • For the splicing, it is between 6 to 8 inches. Some mature cucumbers may become 10 to 12 inches. Do not let them become too large, as that will give you overripe and bitter fruits. 

For harvesting the cucumbers, wear gloves and get a pruner. 

Leaving 1 inch of the stem in the plant, cut the cucumbers and collect them in a basket. 

Avoid keeping them roughly or topping them over any other fruits and vegetables. 

Even the slightest bruise can damage the fruit, especially the burpless varieties. 

Do not pull or twist the vines to pick the cucumbers. 

That will create wounds in the stems and lead to damage and infestation. 

During the peak or off-peak season, check and harvest the cucumbers every day or every other day. 

The best time is to harvest the cucumbers in the morning when the weather is excellent, and the stems are damp.

How to store ripened cucumbers for optimal freshness and flavor?

Generally, most people toss the cucumbers straight into the refrigerator’s crisper drawer after harvesting. 

It is an ideal method, and the cucumbers last for 3 days like this.

The ideal temperature for storing the cucumbers ranges between 50 and 55°F. 

You can extend the lifespan of the harvested cucumbers for a few more days with a trick.

Wash the cucumbers, dry them, wrap them with plastic wrap, and store them in an airtight container. 

The plastic will work as a shield and lock the moisture in the cucumbers. 

If you are pre-slicing the harvested cucumbers, wrap them in a damp paper towel and store them in an airtight container in your fridge. 

The pickling cucumbers can last longer than the slicing cucumbers. 

So you may not have to store them in the refrigerator. Instead, store them in a cool and dark place anywhere in your house. 

These methods allow the cucumbers to be stored for at least 7 days. 

It would be best to eat them up after. Otherwise, they will become wrinkled and tasteless.

If you cannot give the cucumbers an adequate temperature for storing, you must eat them up within 2 days.

Avoid storing the cucumbers close to any fruits or vegetables. 

They contain and release ethylene while becoming ripe, affecting the cucumbers and making them yellow and bitter.

Other fruits and vegetables that ripe off the vine

Several other fruits and vegetables can ripen off the vine. 

And you should be careful about them and keep them away from the cucumbers during storage. 

These fruits and vegetables ripen off the vine and continue to release ethylene gas. 

Keeping the cucumbers close to them will turn these cucurbits yellow and damage them. 

Here is a list of some fruits and vegetables that ripe off the vine and should be kept away from the cucumbers:

  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Peaches
  • Plums 
  • Papayas 
  • Mangoes 
  • Tomatoes
  • Hot chili peppers
  • Apricot 
  • Winter squash
  • Cantaloupe

Common myths and misconceptions about cucumber ripening and storage

cucumber harvest 2

There are several myths about cucumber ripening and storage. 

In this section, I will be clearing some misconceptions I came through while growing cucumbers over these years to help you know the facts about cucumbers relating to ripening and storage:

Misconception 1 

My first misconception was that cucumbers should always be stored in refrigerators. 

I once stored some of them in the freezers and lost them all.

The conception is true, but only sometimes. Cucumbers stay best when they are kept at room temperatures between 65 and 70°F. 

The temperature should neither be too warm nor too cold. 

If you keep it in the refrigerator, it should be 50 to 55°F. 

Temperature below 40 to 50°F will damage the cucumbers and make them lose all their moisture. 

Misconception 2 

The second misconception I had as a beginner was to harvest the cucumbers when they were fully ripe. 

There is no need to let them fully ripe for harvesting. You can harvest them just before they are fully ripe. 

The ripe cucumbers can give you a good taste. 

Still, the cucumbers harvested before they turn fully ripe give you a crunchier taste if you enjoy it.

Misconception 3 

The third misconception is that cucumbers can ripen off the vine. 

It is what the whole article is about. 

The cucumbers never ripen off the vine. They will continue to ripen as long as they are in the plant. 

Once you harvest, they stop ripening further. 

However, that does not mean you should keep them in the plant for too long. That will lead to bitter cucumbers. 

Misconception 4 

One common misconception most cucumber growers have is that bitter cucumbers are bad for health. 

Bitter cucumbers taste unpleasant, but they are not harmful to your health. 

Sometimes, some cucumbers are naturally bitter. 

The result of the bitterness is overripeness and extreme levels of cucurbitacin. 

Cucurbitacin is mainly found in the leaves, stems, and roots that transfer to the fruits when the plant is under some stress, for instance, dryness, lack of sunlight, bad soil, or too much competition for water and nutrients.

Misconception 5 

People think that you can store cucumbers with other fruits and vegetables. But it is not valid. 

Vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, avocados, and peaches can ripen off the vine and continue to release ethylene. 

If cucumbers are kept with these vegetables and fruits, the ethylene released from them will turn the cucurbits yellow. 

Final thoughts 

cucumber ripening for seeds

Cucumbers do not ripen off the vine. When they are in the plant, they keep ripening due to ethylene production. Once you pick them, the cucumbers will stop ripening. Check the color, texture, size, and taste to understand the difference between ripe and unripe cucumbers. 

A ripe cucumber is firm, has a bumpy texture (smooth and rough for some varieties), and is dark green with a light green hue. When the cucumbers become ready for harvest, use a pruner, and leaving one inch of the stem, cut them off the vines. 

During the peak and off-peak seasons, check them regularly and harvest them every 1-2 days in the morning when the weather is cool. Avoid keeping the cucumbers with vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, bananas, avocados, peaches, and apricots.

What to do with an unripe cucumber?

If you have harvested an unripe and hard cucumber, you can use it in pickles or stir-fry them with onions to make some dishes or add them to some meals.

Will eating an unripe or overripe cucumber harm your health?

Unripe cucumbers are slightly crunchy, and overripe cucumbers are bitter to taste. Eating them may feel unpleasant, but they won’t harm your health.

Reference: Cucumber Wikipedia


Hello everyone, My name is Richa and I am here to make you a better gardener by creating an in-depth and helpful resource for all the fellow gardeners out there. If I could help even a few people understand their plants better then I call it a success for my efforts.

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