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8 answers 14558 views
8a5161fb 3215 4036 ad80 9f60a53189da  buddhacat
SKK
added almost 5 years ago

According to Washington State University, the way you peel makes no difference. Cucurbits is what causes the bitterness and there appears to be more complaints of the bitterness in years with a cooler growing season. Personally, I have found that the most bitter is in the ends of the cucumber so I slice them off. Then I taste a bit unpeeled and if it is bitter I peel. If it is still bitter I scoop out the seeds. If that doesn't work, throw it away.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added almost 5 years ago

I always peel the regular "garden" cucumbers I get at the grocery store. Not for bitterness, but because the skin is waxed to preserve the "freshness". I don't peel cukes I get from the farmers market or from my CSA, nor do I peel the ones that are labeled as "English" or "hothouse" cucumbers. They're easy to spot, they're packaged in a plastic shrink-wrap. I've never found them to be bitter, regardless of peel or seeds.

Cbfb27ea 071f 4941 9183 30dce4007b50  merrill
Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

added almost 5 years ago

Sorry for the spam, everyone! We're still working to resolve this.

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added almost 5 years ago

Even good garden cucumbers sometimes turn bitter when they are stressed---generally hot conditions and a lack of water. The plant is often near its useful end, too; first cucumbers are never bitter. Sometimes, per SKK, cutting the end off does help, and sometimes, as she says, they're too awful to save. I think the long Asian kind, like Suyo (I grow them on a trellis), are less likely to turn bitter in the heat of August. The peel itself isn't a factor.

C0d1f1de 4134 43ba 9510 1d7a8caa31f3  scan0004
added almost 5 years ago

A friend uses this technique to take out the bitterness, purportedly Chinese: cut off about 1/2" from the end. Rub the cut surfaces against each other until it gets a bit soapy/foamy. Anyone else heard of this?

67544da8 1862 4539 8ec8 2d9dfc2601bb  dsc 0122.nef 1
added almost 5 years ago

Yes Susan G.. I grew up believing this. its second nature by habit to rub the cut surface with the bits cut off from the ends of the cucumber. So glad that some one else bought it up.. (was a bit embarrassed to share this first, silly as it may sound!)

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added almost 5 years ago

Interesting, like SKK says, according to Washington State University peeling makes no difference. Oregon State University, on the other hand, quotes a vegetable crops professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences who came up with the method I described in my initial question of peeling a cucumber to avoid serving bitter-tasting cukes. @ susan g / Panfusine: the "Chinese" rubbing trick is totally new to me and I'll try it just for fun, even though it might be as unscientific as the peeling trick. - So the best way to go about late cukes is to cut off both ends and have a bite before dumping it into the salad or whatever you are making. Sounds obvious but I have spoiled dishes that way. And, have a backup dish because if the cukes are bitter, there is nothing to be done.

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fhp
added over 2 years ago

I don't do this as I buy my cucumbers at the Farmers Market and they always taste deliciously. However, when I lived in Italy we had a sort of grumpy housekeeper who was a very good cook. When my mother finally came to visit after many years she earned Maria's affection one day when she prepared a cucumber with the rubbing/milking trick. Maria hadn't seen anyone do that since her grandmother in Sardegna more than 50 years ago. From then on they spent the afternoons in the kitchen cooking together, laughing and using sign language.