Cucumber

The Right Way to Store Cucumbers (So They Don't Turn to Mush)

Learn how to keep your cukes fresh and crisp for as long as possible.

July 21, 2021
Photo by Suthep Wongkhad/Getty Images

Cucumbers are easy to find year-round, but they’re really at their peak come summer (May through August). Once you get home from stocking up on them at the farm stand, grocery store, or even a grocery delivery service like Instacart, which you can shop here, it’s important to know how to store cucumbers. If you take care of these green gems properly, they should last up to a week. Ahead, we’re sharing our top tips for storing cucumbers the right way.

Shopping for Cucumbers

Before you grab any cukes off the shelves (we’re close enough that we can give them a nickname, right?), choose carefully. The best cucumbers will be pure green (not yellow) and have no soft spots. Any signs of wrinkles, shrinkage, or dimples signal that the cucumber is overripe. Overripe or rotten cucumbers will have a sour taste and funky smell, so, unlike overripe bananas or apples, which are great for baking, pass on past-peak cucumbers.

How to Store Cucumbers

According to the Hmong American Farmers Association, your average supermarket cold cucumbers are generally coated with a food-grade wax that makes them safe to store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for up to 1 week, uncut. Unwaxed cucumbers, which are the kind that you’d pick in your own garden, are best when used within 3 days.

Store the cucumbers away from avocados, bananas, tomatoes, or melons, as the cucumbers are more likely to yellow quickly due to the exposure of ethylene gas. Although not harmful, ethylene is a gas that is released from fruits and vegetables that causes produce to ripen more quickly. Produce experts recommend that produce like cucumbers should not be stored in plastic bags, like the kind you would pick up in the grocery store, as this will cause them to ripen more quickly. (Though if you’re trying to move an avocado along faster, or ripen bananas for a quick bread, then storing them at room temperature on the kitchen counter in a bag is perfect.)

Using Plastic Wrap

One trick for keeping cucumbers fresh is wrapping them in plastic wrap. Storing them this way will help to slow down their ripening. According to Cook’s Illustrated, wrapped cucumbers lasted longer than cucumbers stored loose or in a Ziploc bag: "The plastic wrap formed an airtight second skin, keeping moisture from leaving the fruit and nearly preventing moisture loss from occurring."

Once the cucumbers are tightly wrapped in plastic, store them in an airtight storage container in your refrigerator. Groundbreaking? No. But a surefire way to prevent mushy cukes? Yes.

How to Store Cut Cucumbers

If you’ve pre-cut or sliced cucumbers for snacking or a salad but have some left over, don’t just throw them out or put them in a plastic bag. The best way to store cut cucumbers is to wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in an airtight storage container. The tight, locking seal on the cover of the container will help to keep them extra fresh. Place the container in your refrigerator or in the crisper drawer and use the cut cukes within five days.

Do you have any produce storage hacks? Let us know in the comments below!
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21 Comments

judy September 21, 2021
Plastic wrap storage: Still continue to be frustrated at the ongoing recommendations to store produce in plastic, which is NOT sustainable. Try DebbieMeyer Green boxes and bags. They are reusable --have had my boxes for more than 8 years! and bags for a year or more. They can be used many times more than the 10 suggested on the packaging, rinse well, and can be washed with a little soapy water if necessary. Even the Bag tears, can wrap it around the produce to keep. My current batch is about 3 year old. I haven't bought plastic wrap for about a decade since discovering this product. Also try vinyl bowl covers to use on cut veggies. I get mine from Vermont Country Store :https://www.vermontcountrystore.com/reusable-bowl-covers-set-of-8/product/18554
 
Diane September 17, 2021
Over the years I have struggled to find a way to store my freshly picked cucumbers for more than a few days. The idea of using plastic wrap may work, but I prefer not to use this method. I have found Stasher silicone food bags keep cucumbers crisp for over several weeks. They are expensive, but work so well in extending the shelf life of produce and they are good for the environment!
 
kevinpietersen July 31, 2021
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nancyf18 July 30, 2021
Thank you
 
[email protected] July 30, 2021
If you’re picking cucumbers from your garden no need to refrigerate! They actually stay really well at room temperature for at least a few days.
 
Ellen G. July 29, 2021
Does any one else cut the tips off the cucumber then rub the ends together to reduce bitterness? the rubbing seems to pull foam out of the capillaries under the skin. I learned this is Mallorca and a Tibetan is the only other practitioner I have met so far
 
Pamm L. July 30, 2021
My cousin told me about rubbing the bitter away. I told her she was cracra. So I Googled it , sure enough Miss Martha Stewart confirmed my cousin's nonsense. Now whenever I open a cucumber I give a little rub. Who knows maybe a Genie will appear as well.

 
Shelle August 1, 2021
I learned that trick from German exchange students who insisted that it must be done when you prep a cucumber. They looked at me like I was cracra when I didn't do it.
 
Joyce R. July 29, 2021
Do you think that dill could be substituted for mint in the salad?
 
Kate July 29, 2021
Wrap them in PLASTIC WRAP??? So, you have taken one of the few vegetables that is not sold in plastic and added plastic? The cuke lasts up to a week, and the cling film lasts up to a thousand years and often winds up as plastic particles that wind up back in our food! Come on F52! You can do better.
 
TerryRk July 29, 2021
🙄
 
rbrock1225 July 29, 2021
First of all, I have _no_ financial involvement w/BluApple.

Several years ago our daughter gave me one of the BluApple kits for my refrigerator produce drawers. It contains two plastic containers that you change an inner packet every quarter. They help slow the ripening/ethylene gas issue. They make a _huge_ difference in slowing down food ripening/food waste. Each year my daughter sends me another set of refills (2 sets of 4). To replace the packets, you pry open the bluapple and swap out the packets. The old packets can be cut open and the innards used as plant food.

During the last year, they've added two other lines to their products: storage bags w/a liner and a foam sheet to place in the bottom of the produce drawer. On the bags w/liner, sometimes you wet it and wrap the new produce in the damp toweling; sometimes you wrap it in dry toweling. I wish they sold just the toweling as refills (they don't), but I ended up using some heavyweight bamboo toweling as a replacement and am using the same perferorated plastic bags 6 months later. The (plastic) foam sheets cut down on bruising of fruit like pears.

If you go to the BluApple site, you can scroll down and see how they recommend storing different fruits & veggies. https://thebluapple.com/pages/produce-storage-tips



 
Louisa July 29, 2021
I recently began storing farmer’s market cucumbers in a basket on my cold basement floor. I’ve been able to keep them for a week.
 
Cindytozer July 29, 2021
Amanda used her fingers to taste the cucumber salad and then stuck her hand she had in her mouth back into the salad. Even my children know better than that.
 
Linda G. July 29, 2021
She is cooking in her home for her family, I'm sure they have no problem with that.
 
Makramer July 29, 2021
Love all your suggestions. One issue, though. Please try to find alternatives to the use of plastics. Could our cubes be stores in glass containers? Wrapped in wax paper? We all have to find alternatives and use some old fashioned ways
 
Author Comment
Kelly V. July 29, 2021
Hi Makramer! Of course the storage containers can be glass or even stainless-steel. This is a great set from the Food52 shop that would totally do the trick: https://food52.com/shop/products/6356-borosilicate-glass-storage-containers-set-of-3
 
Katherine July 29, 2021
I agree with the previous comment. NO MORE SINGLE USE PLASTIC in the thoughtful kitchen. The idea that each cucumber should be wrapped in plastic wrap is wasteful, oblivious, self-centered thinking. A better approach is to purchase the amount of cucumbers you will eat within a reasonable time, then EAT THEM. Please, please -- with your food tips -- try as much as possible to stay away from single use plastics.
 
Brooke July 29, 2021
No more single-use plastic!
 
robin L. July 26, 2021
In another food52 article, it's recommended to store a head of celery wrapped in foil. It really does keep the celery fresh. I've been doing this w cucumbers too, and it works.
 
Author Comment
Kelly V. July 29, 2021
That's a great tip! Glad it's working for you!